Tuesday, June 5, 2007

SmartCars Are Coming

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.


banhmi said...

Yep, they're coming. I just took a test drive over memorial weekend. I even started a blog over it.


bpt said...

Cool! What did you think? Will Americans go for them? What appeals to you about them not that you've test driven one?

A Designer's Eye said...

We saw one parked in front of a restaurant in Hollywood yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Did you mean this motorcycle is a three-seater, or a three-wheeler? Looks like the latter. I doubt it would appeal to a wild teenage child with a life-long yen for a motorcycle, unfortunately.

bpt said...

Good catch! It's a 3-wheeler, not a 3-seater. No, doesn't look like a Hells Angel would like it much.

Anonymous said...

These are very expensive for a 2-seater.

By this spring VW will be back with 50-state approved diesels (TDi)

A basic 5-passenger Jetta TDi that gets 35+ city, 50+ highway will be only about $25K.