I saw in the paper today that Daimler-Chrysler was going to import their SmartCars into the U.S. market next year. The 4 cylinder gasoline 50mpg version. They must know more about future fuel prices than we do…Will people really pay $12,000 for one of those?
Fortunately, they’re not “Daimler-Chrysler” anymore.
Regarding the smart car, it will be interesting to see how they do in the U.S. I would be more interested if they sold the diesel version here. A VW TDI will give almost the same mileage with more passenger room, but they are cheaper and unique looking. I’m also not sure how extensive their dealer network will be. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Motor Trend I believe it was, tested one here in the OK panhandle (wide open flat spaces, 50 miles between towns) a year or so ago and 37 MPG was the best they got.
The editors were not impressed at all with their test bed version. Maybe the production model will be better, but the main complaint was that it was underpowered and this led to the auto trans shifting up and down non-stop.
Smart Cars are currently sold in Canada, although only the diesel versions.So far, from what I’ve heard and read, they aren’t that great for the following reasons:
- The diesel engine oftentimes will spew excessive soot from the exhaust.
- Mileage isn’t anywhere near as good as it is claimed.
- Extreme lack of space.
- Underpowered and relegated to solely an urban environment.
- Poor winter handling - has a tendency to spin out when braking.
However, they are small, and can be useful in an urban environment. However, Mercedes doesn’t want to sell them in Canada because not enough are being sold to make a profit. Overall, I’d say avoid them simply because there are other small cars available for a similar price that offer more features and capabilities.
I have seen a few in US (South CA). I feel safer driving my kids Barbie Jeep, might need to extend the length a bit to fit, but seems more sturdy! Seriously, anybody feels safe to drive in one of these in the fwy next to the trucks and hummers?
Bemz has been selling them in Canada for sevrel years now and demand outpaced supply for the first year. To see them going though a snow storm is sort of funny, so who knows how it will be received.
Besides the disappoining review in Motor Trend, when the Smart Car was tested by Consumer Reports a couple of years ago, they called it “the absolute worst vehicle we have ever tested”. Admittedly that was not the exact version that will be soon be marketed in the US, but with that same version as the starting point, it doesn’t sound promising to me except as something solely for very congested urban areas.
VDCdriver–perpetually logged out
A VW TDI will give almost the same mileage with more passenger room, but they are cheaper and unique looking.
The actual mileage I get with my VW 2002 TDI NB is better than the EPA mileage on the Smart Car. But it is cute and should fit in some parking spots even I would have to pass up.
Will people pay $12,000 for a Smart Car? Of course they will, or at least some of them will. C’mon, Caddyman, you know human nature better than that. Some people just HAVE to have the latest thing, and some people will probably pay MORE than retail to be the first on their block to have a Smart Car.
The Smart Car will be big in Hollywood, and could bump the Prius from its pedestal there.
Then, after a while, the “new” will wear off, and we’ll see what happens. I think it’s a nifty little city vehicle, but it should be priced WAY lower than it is.
I have no plans to buy one.
By the way, the issue of “safety” always comes up with a tiny car like this. A Google search will yield video of a Smart Car being slammed into a concrete barrier at about 60 mph. Both doors still opened, which is impressive, but that’s not the same as a collision with a much larger vehicle.
Motor Trend is generally biased toward big and fast cars. They always recommend a bigger engine. So you should take what they say about small and light cars economy cars with a grain of salt.
I have no plans to buy one either, but for the cost of a half decent motorcycle they may have a U.S. market. When they were being imported for $20K+ they were just too expensive, at $12K they are almost in the “impulse purchase” category. I’ve only seen a couple on the roads so far, I expect we’ll start to see a few more. Personally, I would be more tempted to by an old Isetta.
I fail to see where Motor Trend is ripping on small cars. A few examples, of many:
I hardly consider those cars “big and powerful”.
Many years ago, there was a cartoon strip about an old lady and her similarly old car. It was short, narrow and tall, rather like a telephone booth on wheels. Instead of a steering wheel, it had a tiller. One day, the old lady told a friend about her experience buying the car. She said that she had to choose between two models. One was short, high and boxy while the other was long, low and slinky. She said she chose the long, low, slinky one. The SmartCar reminds me of that cartoon.
In my opinion, the SmartCar is intended for people who consider despising the automobile to be a mark of moral superiority.
There’s one in a lot near where I work. It’s a “Supertan” company car registered in Ontario. I’ve taken a close look at it, and with the xA being $13.5K and all the other $13K+/- options coming on the market, there’s no way I’d pay $12K for a Smart car. In many areas of Europe, and in places like Tokyo and Okinawa, population density is high, parking is virtually nonexistant, streets are cluttered, and speeds are zip-stop-zip-stop. Smart cars would be perfect for those applications. In the U.S. they’ll be death cacoons.
just my humble opinion.
The one tested by M/T was probably a ZAP import, modified to meet U.S. emissions and safety standards. When you fool with the engine to meet CA emissions, performance is going to suffer. The ones being built for the U.S. market are 8" longer, have a 4cyl engine, and get a 3-star frontal and 4-star side impact safety rating. They are not made or intended for high speed, long distance travel. These are urban run-a-bouts. Five years from now, with gas prices somewhere between $5-$10 a gallon, I suspect these will be selling like hotcakes…
Five years from now, with gas prices somewhere between $5-$10 a gallon, I suspect these will be selling like hotcakes.
I agree, they are probably betting on fuel prices continuing to increase. I don’t know if they will catch on or not, it probably depends whether they obtain a “cult” following like the mini cooper and the new bug (at least for a while). Definitely an urbane car, probably not a practical first or second car for anyone, probably a third or forth toy for running local errands (like I use my motorcycle), maybe a good first car for kids who don’t drive on highways (an alternative to a scooter). I would still be concerned if their dealer network will be adequate.
If they actually get to market at $12K, the used market will be very affordable in a couple of years. I don’t know if I would pay $12K for a new one, but I do know that I wouldn’t pay $25K for a hybrid so they are probably a step in the right direction.
There are a few microcars like the Smart sold in Europe and Asia. The make sense in a congested city. Parking in Amsterdam on a trip in 2005 was awful, and many of the streets narrow. I saw many microcars there, including a few Smarts.