BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI - Mercedes-Benz USA LLC and Penske Automotive Group are discussing transitioning the distribution rights, management, sales, and marketing activities of smart USA from Penske Automotive Group to Mercedes-Benz USA. The companies said they expect the transition to occur by the end of the second quarter of 2011.

The companies said this proposed change marks a step in implementing the smart brand’s growth strategy. They said it also reflects last year’s reorganization at smart headquarters in Germany, where smart is now managed as an independent brand, but is fully integrated into Mercedes-Benz Cars business unit of Daimler AG.

“We are very excited about working toward integration of smart into the MBUSA organization, and look forward to working with our dealer partners to exceed customer expectations for this unique vehicle,” said Mercedes-Benz President and CEO, Ernst Lieb. “The addition of smart, combined with our Autohaus dealer initiative, will help us build upon the tremendous momentum the Mercedes-Benz brand had achieved here in the U.S.”

Introducing the smart brand to the U.S. has been a unique opportunity for us,” said Penske Automotive Group Chairman Roger Penske. “Over the last three years I’ve experienced the passion consumers express for the brand as we delivered over 45,000 vehicles. Aligning smart distribution with Daimler, as it is worldwide, is the logical next step for the smart brand in the U.S. This alignment will enable the smart brand to grow through the Mercedes-Benz dealership network and lead the way in conservation and meeting future fuel economy standards.”