The Smart Car, extremely popular throughout Europe, is coming to
America.  The cute little base model, now being distributed by Zap!, weighs in at 1,588 pounds, has a 3 cylinder engine, has a top speed of 85 MPH, holds about nine gallons of gas, and gets around 40 miles per gallon, maybe more.  Zap! Hasn’t actually got any US models ready to ship, but you can import a European model from Smart Car of America or try to get one on ebay.  The American Smart Car will be available in a variety of models, including a cabriolet and a slightly larger, sportier version, perhaps intended to compete with the Mini. 

 They call it the Roadster:

Pricing will likely be around $20,000, more or less, depending on the model. 

Here’s a photo I took of one in Europe  

 smart-car_.GIF

(sorry about the image resolution and large file size, but will provide a lot of detail if you double click to enlarge to original)

And here’s a photo of some that were recently on display in
Boston, as part of a Target promotion (“Target is about style,” the PR guy told me). 

 picture-001.GIF (ditto as above)

I sat in this and found it surprisingly roomy and comfortable and a little bit like sitting in a large eggshell.  And that’s the question—is it really an eggshell?  Is it safe, especially alongside the gas-guzzling behemoths that are on the road today?  Daimler-Chrysler, which is marketing the cars, says it is, at least based on the crash testing that was done.  I wonder if the crash tests pitted it against a Lincoln Navigator.  But, hey, if you’re driving mostly in the city, at lower speeds, safety isn’t as much of a concern.  The car is perfect for city-dwellers—think about the parking spaces you could finagle, to the envy of your neighbors! 

This is what the US needs to be doing—downsizing its vehicles.  This is the first step in releasing dependence on oil. 

 Much info is available on this:

MSNBC article

NY Times article

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