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Smart Car Coming To the US In Jan. 2008 575

Posted by kdawson
from the noisier-than-a-hybrid dept.
Blahbooboo3 writes "After many delays and missed promises, the Smart Car is finally coming to the US in January 2008. Smart Car uses a specially designed crash cage to protect the driver and gets upwards of 40 miles per gallon. Crash tests are very positive. The car is deceptively large inside, as showcased by this great ad from the Smart USA site. The second-generation Fortwo will be offered first, starting around $14,000. Unfortunately the slick roadster isn't coming any time soon."
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Smart Car Coming To the US In Jan. 2008

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  • For some reason when I look at the price all I think is that there are better cars for that price. Why would I buy one of those when I can get a yaris or scion that gets the same milage?
    • Firstly, you can change the bodywork easily for different designs. Secondly it's a Mercedes, Thirdly it can park in small spaces in cities which other cars can't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yeah, being able to park nose in between two parallel parked cars on the street would be great for cities. But what the crash test video didn't show was what happens when you get hit by someone in a big SUV. The biggest selling point of the big cars these days is still safety for the people inside. Soccer mom don't give a shit about gas milage when it comes to protecting their babies.
        • Soccer mom don't give a shit about gas milage when it comes to protecting their babies.

          That's okay; the Smart Fortwo only seats two people anyway (hence the name), so it can't carry soccor moms' "babies!"

          • by Original Replica (908688) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @02:22PM (#19533867) Journal
            No no no, I didn't mean that the soccer moms would be driving the Fortwo, but that the Fortwo would have to contend with giant SUVs. And do not doubt SUVs are killers.

            For every one life saved by driving an SUV, five others will be taken. Government researchers have found that a behemoth like the four-ton Chevy Tahoe kills 122 people for every 1 million models on the road; by comparison, the Honda Accord only kills 21. Injuries in SUV-related accidents are likewise more severe.Part of the reason for the high kill rate is that cars offer very little protection against an SUV hitting them from the side -- not because of the weight, but because of the design. When a car is hit from the side by another car, the victim is 6.6 times as likely to die as the aggressor. But if the aggressor is an SUV, the car driver's relative chance of dying rises to 30 to 1, because the hood of an SUV is so high off the ground. Rather than hitting the reinforced doors of a car with its bumper, an SUV will slam into more vulnerable areas and strike a car driver in the head or chest, where injuries are more life-threatening.
            http://www.alternet.org/story/14839/?page=2 [alternet.org]

            Just look at Fortwo, taller than it is wide, and figure out what happens when someone runs a red light.
            • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Saturday June 16, 2007 @02:31PM (#19533933)

              Just look at Fortwo, taller than it is wide...

              Well, considering that, you'd think it'd be safer than other small cars in side impacts, because the door reinforcements are higher off the ground. Also, because it's so short, the side impact actually hits the A and B pillars, the front and back wheels (at the same time!), etc -- the stuff that's rather more solid than the doors.

              In a side-impact crash, I would expect the Smart to be more likely to roll and get less smashed-in, meaning that the occupants would be at greater risk for whiplash but less risk for entrapment or getting crushed.

            • by mightyQuin (1021045) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @06:57PM (#19536035)
              We've had smartCars available in Canada since late 2004/early 2005, and I see them frequently on the road here (Winnipeg). It never fails, anytime I mention that I wouldn't mind getting one, people always bring up the crash/safety issue. Try to argue that I commonly ride my bicycle in heavy traffic, not willingly - there aren't many cycling paths here - that's dangerous. People ride motorcycles at high speeds - that's dangerous too. Why is everyone a safety freak when it comes to the smartCar? Incidentally, from my personal experience, males are much more opposed to the car than females are.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kanweg (771128)
          That chance that it gets hit is only half as large as with a regular car!

          Bert
      • bodywork easily for different designs

        Dunno about US but here in EU if you change the design of your car you have to get new documents. Btw, those bodywork parts are not cheap in any case, and I haven't seen anyone actually changing the color of their car by buying new bodyparts. Probably the most expensive color change ever.

        Secondly it's a Mercedes

        Reliability-wise I would own a Toyota over a Mercedes any day of the year.

        t can park in small spaces in cities which other cars can't.

        Valid point though. Even though, Yaris isn't that much bigger than a Smart.

        So what are the benefits of Yaris over Smart?

        Much better gear changing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by deacon (40533)
        A Mercedes? And you think that's a plus? Most of us laugh at the twits who think the mercedes gives them "status". The rest of us have pity for them based on the very low reliability record of mercedes in general as shown in every years Consumer Reports car issue. People in the know have been fleeing mercedes to go to Lexus for years.

        Please. If this was built by Toyota, it would be worthy of consideration. Considering the diaster of mercedes reliabiliy along with the outrageous cost of spare parts, the e

        • by mobby_6kl (668092)
          I don't drive a Mercedes, but honestly, what "status" car owner gives a shit about what Consumer Report says about them, or how much a repair manual costs? A DMC-12 might also suck according to CR, but I'd rather have it over any Toyota.
    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Saturday June 16, 2007 @01:57PM (#19533583)

      The Smart gets more than 40mpg; the most efficient Toyotas (in the US) get up to 36 (manual Yaris according to fueleconomy.gov).

      If you want a Toyota comparable to the Smart, you're looking at an Aygo [wikipedia.org], which is even smaller than a Yaris and not sold in the US.

      By the way, about those Scions: although the first-gen xA and xB had the same 104hp, 1.5L engine as the Echo and Yaris, the new xB and xD will have larger ones and will probably get less mileage.

      • by ls -la (937805)

        the most efficient Toyotas (in the US) get up to 36 (manual Yaris according to fueleconomy.gov).
        Might as well get a Honda then. My combustion-only Civic gets 30/35. You sure you looked at the hybrids and not combustion only?
        • I meant non-hybrid only, although I didn't say it, as I was only talking about cars of a similar size to the Smart (and Toyota doesn't make any hybrids that small).

          Of course, you aren't kidding about Hondas: why would anybody be impressed by the Smart car when they could have gotten a 70mpg Insight any time in the past 8 years?!

      • by hughk (248126)
        I really don't understand that 36mpg for a manual Yaris somebody must have fscked up the statistics (or had a lead foot). My wife has had one and if the consumption was ever that bad, it would be straight back to the shop. The normal real average is about 46+.
      • by jbengt (874751)
        I got a VW rabbit (diesel) in 1980 that got 55 mpg highway and 42 mpg city.
        How come I can't get a car with better mileage than that by now?
        • Because until very recently, most people weren't willing to pay extra for, or use as a selling point when choosing between vehicles, fuel economy.

          It's really only since the price of gas has hit $3/gal(US) that anyone here in the 'States has started to care about fuel efficiency. At least in the mainstream market -- the VW Diesels have always been popular with some folks I know (and I used to own one, great car) who were really into fuel economy, but the price-premium you pay for the diesel engine doesn't pa
    • Simply because it is cool! The Smart is the equivalent of the MAC.
      It is mostly used by young people that creativity related careers like architects and designers. It is also quite common as a company car for innovative dynamic companies.

      Besides, you can park perpendicularly in a street that only allows parallel parking.
      • Besides, you can park perpendicularly in a street that only allows parallel parking.

        You say that as if it's somehow difficult to parallel park any of the other cheaper small cars in the US (e.g. Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, etc.).

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The Smart is the equivalent of the MAC. It is mostly used by young people that creativity related careers like architects and designers. It is also quite common as a company car for innovative dynamic companies.


        That might be the stupidest statement I've ever read at Slashdot, and I browse at -1.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tompaulco (629533)
        Besides, you can park perpendicularly in a street that only allows parallel parking.
        Does Mercedes offer an address to send all your parking tickets to?
    • by dave420 (699308)
      You can park it sideways in a parking space, for one, so no more parallel parking. :)
    • Because it's beautiful, and they are different things.
      A Yaris is not a beautiful car, and a Smart is.
      Buying a car is not about saving mney in gas, if that was the issue, the only sane way to buy cars would be following a TCO study of each model, because the price of the car is an issue in fuel economy.
    • You've obviously never seen what happens to a Yaris when it t-bones a Volvo XC90 at 45mph. Just happened here in town yesterday, scared the heck out of me. The Volvo had some bent metal, and the driver walked away. The Yaris was scattered across the intersection, and the driver was pulled out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital by helicopter.

      The Smart car has Mercedes engineering behind it, and crashworthiness is superior to anything put out from Toyota.
    • I have no idea why you would purchase the Americanized smart car. It seems like a waste of space. I just purchased the Canadian/European model which uses a diesel engine. Instead of a sissy 40 MPG I get about 70-74 MPG. Its intense, now I get to scoff at all of the people who drive vehicles other than mine because there isn't much that can beat it for gas mileage. I'm just glad I bought mine before this crap happened.
  • $14,000 too high? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Bluecobra (906623)
    While I am all for more small and fuel efficient cars here, a $14K price tag seems like a bit too much. Why would someone spend that much on a car when they can get 4 door Toyota Corolla for around the same price with the same fuel efficiency? I would think that the $10K range would be more reasonable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by morari (1080535)
      Why would anyone buy any new car at all? They're all over priced and instantly loose a considerable chunk of their "value" the moment you drive them off of the lot.
      • by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @02:37PM (#19533973) Journal
        I used to think the same thing, but guess what? I'm driving a brand new Mitsubishi Eclipse right now. The argument that they "immediately lose a bunch of resale value, the minute you drive them off the lot" is technically correct. But realistically, it doesn't mean as much as people pretend it does. In reality, MOST people buying a new car plan on keeping it for a while. The initial loss in value only affects someone who makes a poor purchasing decision and tries to trade the almost new car back in after only a few months through maybe the first year or two of ownership.

        Meanwhile, loans on new vehicles tend to have much better interest rates than loans on used vehicles, so you're not giving as much of your money away to some bank as you pay off your car....

        My new car also included such "bonuses" as free roadside assistance during the warranty period. Used car owners generally don't receive benefits like this, and have to pay for a "motor club" membership like AAA to get the same thing.

        The warranty itself can be a factor, too. You may or may not get one with your used car purchase, depending on its mileage and all. But it could easily "make or break" the overall "value" of your purchase if something major like a transmission fails 2 or 3 years into the vehicle ownership.

        Ultimately, for me, the assurance that my new car doesn't have some worn out part just waiting to fail and greatly inconvenience me when I need my car the most is the *best* reason for buying new. I only own one vehicle, and I count on it daily. If I'm supposed to go to a customer site and can't make it because my car breaks down, that costs me income from both ends at once on a used car that's not in warranty. (Loss of income on a job I can't do, AND loss of income paying for a car repair.) Generally, the dealership will even give me a free rental car while repairing mine under warranty - which they'd never do on used car repairs.

        • It's not so much about the resale value, because you're right, most people won't resell it. But when you can save 20% by buying a car that's 2 years old, the odds of making that much up with things failing anytime soon are sufficiently low that it's usually a good deal. Sure, there's a tiny chance something will fail quickly, but personally the only cars I've known that needed bigtime repairs were several years old. If you think there's a good chance, maybe you should be buying a different car.
        • by deacon (40533)
          If you have to get a loan for a freaking car, YOU CANNOT AFFORD IT! You are going into debt for something that will be worth less than your loan value. If you want debt, buy real estate. A car? Feh! All those "bonuses"? You paid more for them than they are worth to the car dealer! You think the car company gave you those for free???? Warranty? You paid more for that than it is worth. The car company knows what the cost of the warranty to them is, and they charge you MORE than that amount. Gah.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SlashChick (544252) *
      The Smart "pure" model starts out at "under $12,000" according to their site. Also, to test your theory, I went to toyota.com and configured a Corolla. Once I added in an automatic transmission and power windows/door locks (which is a $500 option on the Corolla!), my MSRP was $16,325. I would imagine that the Corolla will still be a more popular car -- but it's certainly not cheaper.
    • "Why would someone spend that much on a car when they can get 4 door Toyota Corolla for around the same price with the same fuel efficiency?"

      Because people think they look cool and hip and fun. People buy cars as an expression of their personal taste as much as anything else, projecting an image, etc, not just on rational aspects like price/fuel efficiency. If that was the case we'd be following Henry Ford's line about having any car we want as long as it's black, we'd all be driving identical vehicles. Jus
    • by Alioth (221270)
      You have to parallel park a Corolla. You can just drive the Smart into an on-street parking space nose in, and the back end won't extend past the SUVs you're parked next to.
  • I dont think that means what Smart think it means in the US.
  • by KeithH (15061) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @01:57PM (#19533575)
    These have already been in Canada for a year or so and judging by the number on the road, they've been selling well. I've spoken to a couple of owners and they love them. Apparently they cope well in the snow (not that we had much in Ottawa this past winter) so they should be perfectly viable in the northern States. Mind you there is something ludicrous-looking about them, especially when you see them next to the ubiquitous SUVs. People thought the same thing about the Morris Minor and the Mini Cooper 40+ years ago. Now, the Cooper is trendy!
    • Smart have been on sale in Canada since 2004. There are zillions on the road here in Vancouver. Once again the U.S. is behind the times, while us Canadians are on top of things. :-)

      The current fad (everything is a fad in Vancouver) is for older Japanese imports. It started with Nissan Skylines [theskylineshop.com], but you also see lots of Mitsubishi Delicas [terra2imports.ca] and Nissan S-Cargo [japanoid.com] vans. I've even saw a Toyota Hi-Lux pickup, the same kind Top Gear [bbc.co.uk] failed to destroy...

      If they're more than 15 years old you can privately import th

  • by joss (1346) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @02:05PM (#19533665) Homepage
    You can stick it in the back of your truck for when you need to get somewhere
    inaccessible by normal means - like closer to the mall entrance than a
    regular parking spot.
  • Yeah, those smarts are really good.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfguxvWPRZE [youtube.com]

    or not.
  • montana (of all places) has had a dealer for a few years in bozeman.

    http://www.ecoautoinc.com/smart.php [ecoautoinc.com]
    • by pat_trick (218868)
      Thing about this is that if you RTFP, it talks about how these are import versions modified for the US market. The smart that's being sold in January is actually made for the US market from the beginning.
  • Last time I looked, nowhere in the USA is it legal to park nose-in when you're in a parallel parking zone. Further, it's generally illegal to "create" parking spots out of nothing, so anywhere there are painted slots or meters, forget about squeezing in.
    This isn't to say that an influx of microcars might not lead to a change in the laws, but it ain't that way yet.
  • by Moskit (32486) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @03:05PM (#19534247)
    "smart" with a lowercase "s" is the correct brand and car name.
  • is evident in many of these posts. The demonstrated lack of understanding in topics such as statics and dynamics, mechanics, mechanical engineering, crash dynamics, and automotive technology is astounding. Before anyone decides to flame me, I am an aerospace engineer, I build airplanes for one of the greatest living aircraft designers in the world. I am well educated in how cars are supposed to work. I am amazed at the number of Honda/Toyota fanboys that post in here saying things like tantamount to "my
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020)
      Sheesh. What an arrogant SOB you sound like.

      Not everyone has the same value system, or makes a large salary as you apparently do. Just because you're an aerospace engineer doesn't mean what you value is any more important than anyone else values. You seem to put an enormous value on safety. That's fine, that's a good thing to value IMO. Of course, not everyone makes the nice salary that I imagine an aerospace engineer makes, so we can't all afford expensive Volvos or Mercedes.

      Get a grip buddy and maybe
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dokebi (624663)
      I respect expert opinion, but as an engineer I value testing over hearsay. [consumerreports.org]
  • The crash test that is linked in the subject belongs to the first version of the Smart Car. You can find the Euroncap test information at http://www.euroncap.com/tests/smart_city_coupe_200 0/29.aspx [euroncap.com] (3 stars out of 5)

    The 2008 version hasn't been tested yet, but hopefully it will get 4 stars in the same test.
  • Back to the future! (Score:5, Informative)

    by PastaAnta (513349) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @03:20PM (#19534391)
    I am getting 33km/l (78 miles per gallon in twelve-finger units) in my Volkswagen Lupo 3L [wikipedia.org] from 2001.
    The Lupo can transport 4 persons and reach a top speed in excess of 165km/h (102mph in twelve-finger units). Read more here [vwvortex.com].
    Volkswagen has now ceased building this gem - and well, I guess it would never sell in SUV-loving States of America anyway.
  • by Oldsmobile (930596) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @03:49PM (#19534651) Journal
    I just rented out a Smart for two days this week.

    I was skeptical at first, but figured I'd rent it for the experience. Having driven it for two days I'm a total convert. When you get into it, you notice that it not only has plenty of room inside for two people and their stuff, but that you actually sit higher up than in most regular cars. The car seems quite stable, even at speed up to 100kmh and probably faster, but I didn't really have a chance to take it any faster an this.

    The suspension is maybe a bit too hard and sporty in it's feel, you can feel rough roads a bit too well. The interior quality was excellent and I like the dash design. The seats were very comfy and it was very easy to find a good seating position. Like I said, there's plenty of room for even big and tall people.

    The engine is small and turbo charged and has plenty of oomh, though only at higher rpm's and you have to wait for the turbo to spool. It has six gears and an automatic transmission. You can use the shifter to go up and down the gears on your own or switch it into automatic. My only gripe is the automatic taking way too long to downshift when you want to surge, but supposedly that's been fixed in the newer version (ours was the 1st gen).

    Really truly the best part was the pitiful amount of fuel it used. I filled the tank up as soon as I got it, and the gauge indicated a full tank (a very unscientific 5 bar gauge) when I returned it to the rental place. I actually felt a bit cheated by it, since I didn't use most of the gas I put in the tank :(

    Like I said, I have reservations about high speed handling in an emergency. I've seen the crash test videos, and I believe the car to be safe enough in crash, it's avoiding one I'm still not sure about. The car does have every electronic measure available, ABS, stability control and other stuff, but I didn't want to test it on public roads.

    On the other hand, most SUV's will flip easily if you do a high speed left-right, so it's a matter of being careful I guess.

    My other gripe is the transmission, though I can live with it and as I said, it's been fixed in the newer model.

    All in all, I'm seriously looking into buying one as a second car. A Smart would fulfill about 95% of my motoring needs, but I would still need my current large gas guzzler for transporting more than me and my spouse and driving to see our relatives through elk infested wintry roads at night.
  • by Jeff Kelly (309129) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @04:09PM (#19534805)
    The Smart roadster will not be released at all because it is no longer in production by Smart
  • by gelfling (6534) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @04:16PM (#19534869) Homepage Journal
    But at 40mpg and $14,000 it's basically a 2 seat Civic. And my next car will probably be a one year old Civic.

    And you can be sure that the rednecks down here in NC will pass some kind of law making it prohibitively expensive or uninsurable. Because as we all know, small is faggoty Eurocommunism. Down here in AMERICA, guldurnit, 75% all new Veee-hick-ul registrations are trucks and SUVs. Learn the damn rules.
  • Why only 40mpg? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrRobert (179090) * <rgbuice @ m a c . c om> on Saturday June 16, 2007 @04:33PM (#19535007) Homepage
    Am I missing something on fuel standards? I had an 89 Honda CRX which looks like it was bigger than a smart car and it got 50mpg even when I had run 250000+ miles on it. I now have a BMW 328i sport coupe that gets in the high 30s and has 267hp. Why would I want a little car like that if I only get 40? Other than it is cheap and cute. But just purely on economic and enviromental impact, I don't get it.
  • by PipingSnail (1112161) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @05:08PM (#19535303)

    I'm sorry to have to burst your bubble, but 40mpg is nothing. Most cars in the UK can do this. My 1987 Vauxhall Astra (1.3L engine, petrol) regularly gave me 43mpg (and lasted 13 years before it was written off by thieves. My girlfriends Skoda Octavia 1.9L diesel can get about 60mpg on a good run and averages 54mpg including urban commuting. If you don't know what a Skoda Octavia is it is an Audi A4 with a different skin styling - made by VW/Audi group - they own Skoda and Seat.

    It is a true indictment of how wasteful car designs and usage are in the US that you think 40mpg is newsworthy. BTW, your $3.50/gallon petrol is cheap. We pay £0.97 per litre - thats $1.94 per litre to you, or about $9 per gallon. So when you complain about your "high" US petrol, sorry, gas, prices, you are complaining about something that is not high at all.

    • by ctid (449118) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @06:52PM (#19536013) Homepage
      Remember, imperial gallons are about 20% larger than US gallons. Wiki page on gallons [wikipedia.org].

    • by shiftless (410350) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:19AM (#19541127) Homepage
      ...and another snooty European weighs in. I'm sure your comment makes perfect sense from the perspective of your armchair, but when you throw in a few actual FACTS about America, it doesn't make much sense at all. Do yourself a favor and go out in the world, come visit America and educate yourself. You Eurotrash insult us all the time saying we Americans as a whole don't know anything about the world, yet you don't know a damn thing about America and you insist on making ignorant comments regardless. Come here and see for yourself why your tidy little European armchair solutions for the US (how thoughtful, thanks!) simply ain't gonna work.

      When you see how big this place REALLY is, you'll shit yourself. $3.50/gallon (US gallon) might be cheap in the UK, but it is NOT cheap in the US. Do you know how many goods (vital goods, even) are transported cross-country by diesel truck at 12 MPG? Do you know how many people are forced to drive an hour (50-60 miles) to work each day because the only other options are to a) get a much lower paying job closer to home or b) move to a crowded, polluted, dirty, restrictive, crime-laden, expensive city? When (not if, but when) fuel gets up to $9 gallon, our economy will likely collapse.

      Yeah, I think it's stupid how a lot of Americans choose to live with their mortgages and SUVs and high debt, but that's besides the point- it is how it is, and it's not going to change overnight just because some European thinks it ought to. It's going to take a significant emotional event to effect the kick in the ass this country (in my opinion) so desperately needs.
  • Deja Vu (Score:5, Funny)

    by puck13 (102616) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @05:51PM (#19535601)
    No trunk. Less space than a Prius. Lame.

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