Personally, I think it's simply that in suburbia-dominated America, there's only so much of a market for a tiny, two-seat urban runabout, and it didn't take long for everybody who had a use for one to buy theirs. If your daily commute is a 50+ mile round trip dodging Kenworths on the interstate, a Smart is about as useful to you as an F350 crew-cab dually would be for me.
Some companies seem slow to pick up on this lesson, however:
These are problems we don’t encounter with hybrids and regular fuel-burning vehicles, and everyone’s learning something from the experience—some more than they’d like. After his first (and last) trip home with the electric Nissan, deputy editor Daniel Pund observed: “I had to drive like, well, like an electric-car driver, all right-lane and timid.” After driving 48 miles home, charging all night, and then returning to Ann Arbor, he got the low-charge indicator when the car reached our lot.In a land where 40-mile commutes are a lot more common than 4-mile ones, the Nissan Leaf has a tough row to hoe.