One of my favorite activities in Athens was SmartCar hunting. They were stashed in the most remarkable places, and appear in a rainbow of colors and designs. I learned from our driver that the name is an anacronym of Swatch Mercedes Art, since Swatch originally designed them, and Mercedes now manufactures them. They make a huge amount of sense. If you look around a highway, the vast majority of cars, no matter what size, are driven solo. Most of the precious, finite, polluting, war-instigating fossil fuel is used to transport the 2000 or so pounds of car, not the 150 pound driver. These cars are 2-seaters, with a little space in back.
The problem is that they aren't that fuel efficient. A Prius, a much larger car, gets better city mileage. According to Consumer Reports, they have a lot of other negatives, as well. So I'm hoping that a comparably cute, teensy vehicle comes on the market soon. I think there will be great demand for them. If the price stays down, I think people will purchase them as third cars - keeping the expensive-to-run SUV in the garage for special occasions. That is already happening with Priuses.
SmartCars are coming to the US, available in 2008. The so-called Smart Tour is underway, having just launched in California. It will be interesting to see if we super-sized Americans take to them. I spotted another curious vehicle in Athens, a three-wheeler motorcycle with a canopy. Somehow, I don't think this will take off in the States, but I have a hunch SmartCars will do pretty well.