Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 64

Thread: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    The Internet
    Beans
    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu

    Post Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20080109/ts_csm/osmart

    Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    By Robert Marquand Wed Jan 9, 3:00 AM ET

    PARIS - Behold, with a microscope if necessary, the Smart car. The Mercedes-built European two-seater turns on half a dime, loves to park where even MINIs fear to fit, and is counterintuitively comfortable.

    This month, after six years of delays, the panda-cuddly car comes to America.

    Europeans already have a love-hate relationship with the feisty little vehicle, designed partly by the Swatch watchmaker Nicolas George Hayek. But Daimler-Chrysler figures this is a perfect moment for the American market. The car combines French savoir-faire with German engineering, is cheap on gas at a time when oil is above $100 a barrel – and will target buyers concerned about emissions and ecology.

    Already, 30,000 US residents have plunked $99 down to reserve the first 3-cylinder two-seaters sold in their country.

    On the Upper West Side in Manhattan, promoters recently displayed 42 Smarts parked on a block that would fit 21 regular American cars. The US model is 7.5 inches longer than its European cousin, but still four feet shorter than the MINI Cooper, its main competition on the diminutive front. Smarts were also test driven in some Whole Foods store parking lots last year, which might say something about the intended market.

    "The Smart is as good for an 18-year-old girl as for her father," says Jean Fourier, a Smart owner in Paris pulling out his iPhone during an interview. "That's one reason I like it. But basically, it is the perfect urban vehicle."

    "If you want to be a chic urban Parisian you are driving a Smart, not a big car," says Christophe Petay, a Smart dealer near the Trocadero here. "In Europe, we don't think of it as a car for the countryside. But that's tradition. Americans can drive it coast to coast."

    All the rage in Europe
    It took some time for the Smart to catch hold in Europe. Now, Paris sports 30,000 Smarts, and Rome 50,000.

    On European city streets, the ubiquitous Smarts are like darting schools of tropical fish, or a swarm of flies, depending on the beholder's eye. Some are swathed in brightly painted ads. (Smart will lower the sticker price for buyers willing to drive around as a billboard.)

    Those who love the Smart can find no faults. On Smart e-forums, owners debate a Miss Smart contest, take part in a Smart world relay race, revel in what they call "the Smart spirit," and share secrets of successful long trips.

    Naysayers find the car "simply ridiculous," as one Parisan says, for reasons of aesthetics and cost. They find it a bourgeoise vanity vehicle driven by smug urbanites, and say it is family-unfriendly and pricey. "It's the car for people who won't take the metro … and who have another one to go on holiday," says Anne-Gael Moulin, a young financial consultant in Paris.

    At upwards of $20,000 for the Smart model popular here, the price pains Europeans who want cheap plus small. At a time when Indian automakers are designing a $2,500 car, and Chinese half-price Smart knockoffs are showing up in Italy, some Europeans hoped Smart would be more in reach of the ordinary pocketbook. The new small Euro Fiat city model, for example, is about $12,000.

    US Smarts will go from $11,590 for the basic "fortwo," to $16,590 for a deluxe fortwo convertible.

    Inside the Smart cockpit, there's an uncanny sense of spaciousness with full bucket seats and business class legroom – like Snoopy's doghouse, which supposedly contains pool tables and large sofas. As Mr. Petay points out, the design specs for the front are the same as any medium-sized European car, while the size savings are taken from the rear of the car. Some Smart dealerships even used former semi-pro basketball players to sell the vehicle.

    Americans first widely encountered the Smart through the 2006 Hollywood blockbuster, 'The Da Vinci Code,' in which a female French detective adroitly spins the little Smart through Paris streets to elude the bad guys.

    Selling a small car to America
    Daimler first planned to decode the American market by proposing a four-seat mini SUV. But tests showed Americans liked the original two-seater better. The American Smart is slightly longer, and has a slightly larger 3-cylinder engine than the classic Smart seen in Europe. The new Smart jumped from 61 to 71 horsepower, and 84 horse is also available.

    The Americanized Smart is what European dealers will be selling as the 2008 model.

    How Smarts will fare in the US is still uncertain. Daimler executives think it will be a big city hit. On Dec. 17 Daimler reported the 30,000 Americans who paid $99 to get on the Smart list exceeded expectations, and that US fortwo demand is outstripping supply. The unusual $99 car deposit is like a refundable waiting list reservation. The company will contact those on the list to see if they are still game, and put the money toward the car, if they are.

    "I think America is a country too big for a car as small as Smart," says Frederic Bidault, a political consultant in Paris. "I can't picture it in L.A. Maybe New York City."

    An auto writer in Business Week last year argued, perhaps wryly, that the Smart may be too smart for Americans in love with "preposterous" vehicles like the Hummer H2. "Vehicles like the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon are necessary for people who pull boats and horse trailers, just as many buy them because they have irrational and selfish insecurities about riding around in anything smaller than a tank."

    Some American expats in Paris suggest the Smart car will please women. Smart officials say buyers in Europe is evenly divided between men and women.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    UK
    Beans
    523
    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    The Smart is a great little car, my brother in the UK owns one. It actually does long journeys really well, though not very fast (60 MPH top speed).
    "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most " -- Ozzy Osbourne

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Beans
    230
    Distro
    Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    Quote Originally Posted by bonzodog View Post
    The Smart is a great little car, my brother in the UK owns one. It actually does long journeys really well, though not very fast (60 MPH top speed).
    The missus has a soft-top one. Top speed is electronically limited to 83mph, although it will read 90mph on the display. A plug-in module gives you more bhp via an increase in boost pressure and removes the limiter. Not sure I'd fancy doing 100mph+ in one though.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Beans
    371
    Distro
    Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    I would hate to even experience a fender bender in that thing. It could mean a life flight. Got to love the EPA estimates from 2007 to 2008 now that they're under new guidelines.

    40/45 (EPA 2007) ~ 33/41 (EPA 2008)
    Last edited by kamaboko; January 9th, 2008 at 04:46 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Brugge, België
    Beans
    2,933

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    Despite what the article says (for 18 year old girls and there father) I haven't seen any men driving that "girl power" car.

    I mean common wich man would drive this?:



  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    100acrewood
    Beans
    7,294
    Distro
    Kubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    Quote Originally Posted by billgoldberg View Post
    Despite what the article says (for 18 year old girls and there father) I haven't seen any men driving that "girl power" car.

    I mean common wich man would drive this?:


    Lol! No way...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Finland/UK
    Beans
    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    Quote Originally Posted by billgoldberg View Post
    Despite what the article says (for 18 year old girls and there father) I haven't seen any men driving that "girl power" car.

    I mean common wich man would drive this?:

    lolflag:
    Most likely not. NOt the pink one. However I wouldn't mind driving this one, fitted with engine from Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV4HdsDZX6c
    Last edited by mcduck; January 9th, 2008 at 05:30 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Beans
    809
    Distro
    Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    Quote Originally Posted by kamaboko View Post
    I would hate to even experience a fender bender in that thing. It could mean a life flight. Got to love the EPA estimates from 2007 to 2008 now that they're under new guidelines.

    40/45 (EPA 2007) ~ 33/41 (EPA 2008)
    That is because you haven't seen the crash tests.

    Also, if you want a fuel efficient car VW TDIs are the way to go. Mine could get 50mpg, and I kept a record of all fill ups. My avg mileage was 41mpg with 60%.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Beans
    Hidden!

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    I've driven one (surely not a pink one, I guarantee that), but I didn't really like the automatic transmission. I abhorr those things, I like to drive stick and that's it. I don't know how people in the US grow so used to driving automatic.

    There are actually a few companies here in Portugal renting Smarts at 1 euro per day (supported by advertising on the outside of the "car"), and you have to do a minimum of 30 km per day (around 19 miles).

    The steering wheel feedback is interesting, and it eliminates a few of the troubles of parking in narrow spaces, especially here in Europe... but I feel they're overpriced for what they are. I'd get the CDI one, but over 15.000 euros for one is way, way too much.

    Try checking out the Fortwo Brabus. That's a little beast of a car (98 bhp on such a tiny car), but I surely wouldn't drive one.
    Last edited by Onyros; January 9th, 2008 at 06:13 PM.
    N800 in my pocket, Acer 1410 in my backpack, Thinkpad X31 on a shrine

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Scotland
    Beans
    1,225
    Distro
    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    Re: Europe's little 'Smart' car to hit U.S. streets

    don't drive them in a cross wind. very scary.

Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •