Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Business smarts 2: Getting the smart message

The Messengers International
103 Richmond St. East, Suite 104, Toronto

Profile: A courier company that has a unique approach to the business.
"The Messengers International strives to always be at the forefront of the courier industry, and this is especially true with the two newest members of the Messengers' Fleet." They have a coupe and a cabriolet for environmental as well as promotional reasons.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Business smarts 1: Smart Business Promotions

When the smartcar was launched in 1998, European business owners jumped at the opportunity to have an eye catching promotional car. Many companies see the value in having the green and economical smart in their fleet of vehicles. This is the first in a series of SCOOT blog posts about Canadian businesses that use smart cars.

Steamwhistle Brewery, 255 Bremner Blvd., Toronto, have a small fleet of interesting promotion/delivery vehicles which includes a smartcar, a 1949 International Stake Truck and a 1967 Ford Econoline van. They hosted a rally on June 12, 2005 which was attended by over 30 smart cars and their drivers. The Toronto Star ran a great photo of the event on the front of their Wheels section on June 18, 2005 accompanied by 3 articles about the car: Love it, Hate it and Drive it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

High Gas Prices Prompt Driver to Trade in Truck for smart car

Commuter Parks F150, saves $7000 and 15 tonnes of GHG

Excerpt from:

Craig Brooks of Welland, Ontario

"I previously drove a 1997 F-150 4.2 litre extended cab. The truck is averaging about 15.5 litres/100 kms. At current fuel costs here ($1.037 gas) my commute to work would now be costing us $173.59 per week or $8,505.91 per year (49 weeks).
The smart is averaging 3.5 litres/100 kms. At current diesel cost here $0.939 litre it is costing us $35.49 per week or $1,739.01 per year. Based on 52,920 km, the smart is saving us $6,766.90 annually."

Read full article here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Keith Hebert begins 100 MPG Challenge in Victoria, BC

Photo by deezle.

"A group of fellow smart car owners from Club smart car will be getting together for the grand opening of the new smart centre in Victoria at Three Point Motors, 2546 Government Street.
After this event, a convoy of smart cars will go to mile zero with Keith, and then some will even head north to Duncan (home of Canada’s most enlightened parking regulations), as he logs his first of an anticipated 15,000 kilometres over the next 33 days.
Monday will see Keith travel from Nanaimo to the Kelowna area, with brief stops in Vancouver and Abbotsford."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Momentum Show and Shine For the Homeless

Hope Wheels Help Outreach hosted their third annual Momentum Show and Shine for the Homeless at Queensway Cathedral today. Unfortunately, the weather was not in their favour as the rain started part way through the afternoon. The show stoppers were a pair of tricked-out lowrider/hopper Impalas and a custom Harley chopper. We had interesting conversations with a Model-T owner from St. John's, Newfoundland and a GM salesman who answered our questions about the 2006 HHR which was on display. The "Heritage High Roof" is Chevy's answer to the PT Cruiser albeit five years late. We aren't sold on the name and although it's big on style it lacks image.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Dealer hopes coupe dwarfs competition

N.H. firm set to become only East Coast seller of Smart car
By Erika Lovley, Globe Correspondent | August 25, 2005

What's 5-feet high, 8-feet long, comes in ''phat red" and ''jack black," and gets 60 miles to the gallon?
As the employees of McFarland Ford in Exeter, N.H., will tell you, it's the Smart car. At only 1,558 pounds, the two-seat coupe is remarkably fuel-efficient and could go from Boston to Washington, D.C., with gas to spare in its 8.7-gallon tank. While aimed at consumers weary of paying $2.61 for a gallon of gas, the Smart car has another attraction: fun.

''It makes you a star," said Edward Tsang, the first customer to test drive the car at McFarland, the only Smart car dealer on the East Coast. ''Everybody looks at you."

McFarland Ford expects to start selling the cars by the end of the year, said Nancy Brewer, the dealer's general manager. Available in coupe or convertible, the cars will be priced in the mid- to upper-$20,000 range.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Smart way to cope with summer floods

As the old saying goes, " When life gives you lemons, go waterskiing!"

CP24 August 25 2005

"It was Toronto’s version of the perfect storm. And it came down during the height of the afternoon rush Friday. A torrential rain caused chaos across the city, as lightning, thunder, golf ball sized hail and high winds all converged on the G.T.A. to leave flooding in its wake.
In some areas, the rain fell so hard and so fast, sewers couldn’t contain all the water. Many drivers, heading home in the thick of it, actually had to be rescued from their vehicles after the roads turned into rivers."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Duncan adds tiny stalls for tiny cars

CREDIT: Debra Brash, TC
Duncan Coun. Sharon Jackson stands next to her borrowed Smart car outside City Hall.

Victoria Times Colonist
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

By Peter Cowan

After seeing Smart cars in Europe taking up half of a regular parking space by parking at right angles to the curb, Dr. Ron Jarvis tried the same thing with his Smart car in Duncan.

Instead of applauding his space-saving initiative though, the commissionaire gave him a $10 ticket.

"I was curious to see whether there would be any problems," said Jarvis. The city tore up the ticket after he challenged it and councillors then got thinking about alternative ways to park the small cars, which are becoming more popular.

This week, Duncan will add 12 new micro-car parking spaces around the city for Smart cars, motorcycles and mopeds after the idea was recently approved by city council.

Coun. Sharon Jackson had pushed for the new spots after she was approached about the issue last fall. She said it makes sense to try to find efficient ways to park tiny vehicles so they don't need to take up a giant parking spot, especially now that more of them are on the roads.

"A day doesn't go by that I don't see a Smart car," she said.

As well as making efficient use of parking space, Jackson said it is one way the city can encourage people to get smaller, fuel-efficient cars or take a scooter or motorcycle instead.

The new spaces are designed for any car shorter than 2.7 metres. At just 2.5 metres, the two-seater Smart cars will qualify to fit in these spots.

The new spaces, which are about four metres long, are being created in areas that aren't big enough for a regulation-sized parking spot, which is normally seven metres long.

Jackson went around with a measuring tape and a map figuring out where the spots could be added. She said the new ones will be in prime locations, with one spot right in front of Duncan City Hall. Other spots will be on Kenneth and Jubilee streets and in City Square.

"They'll be right downtown," she said.

Victoria Coun. Dean Fortin is impressed with Duncan's approach, and says Victoria should follow suit.

He said parking is always at a premium downtown and this might be a way, for very little money, to create some extra room. "It's a brilliant idea," he said.

For Duncan's Jackson, several days of driving a borrowed Smart car have her hooked and she is now selling her 1991 Honda CRX so she can buy a Smart car.

Her next step is to talk to B.C. Ferries about reduced rates for smaller cars.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Halton County Radial Railway gets smart

On our latest visit to the Halton County Radial Street Railway we noticed a silver and white smart car in the parking lot with the registration plate PWEZ. I happened to be wearing my black smart t-shirt with the skull and crossbones motif. I didn't take long for the smart car owner to ask about the shirt. Oswald is one of the street railway operators at the museum and is very knowledgable about the history of the cars, companies and routes. A visit to the HCRR makes a fun day out for families and train buffs. Each time we go, we find that they've added something to make the experience even more interesting.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cornfest Car Show, Jarvis, Ontario

We drove to Jarvis, which is just north of Port Dover on Hwy 6 via Hamilton. The annual Cornfest was in full swing and there were many interesting vehicles there. We met up with Chester Van Ness of Scotland, ON who, with his wife, has a collection of minis including a pick up truck and a panel van which he uses for business.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Newspaper Clipping 1

Sussex Express, Friday August 5, 2005

A Smart way to get kicks on Route 66
by Andy Thomas

Rupert Lloyd-Thomas, presenter on Rocket FM Lewes is more than half-way through an epic 4,000 mile drive across North America in his diesel-powered Smart Car – recently introduced to the new world.
The tiny vehicle achieves 85 miles a gallon and there is room for Rupert, his wife Annette and all their camping gear.
Rupert and Annette (who was born in Lewes) left Toronto in July heading for California via Route 66 and are now at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA.
The Smart will be serviced in Vancouver ready for the return trip east across the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Said Rupert: This is the trip of a lifetime and it’s been like driving through a lexicon of American popular music. Mixing it with the big trucks on the interstate has also been an experience. So far the Smart hasn’t missed a beat and we’ve been the centre of attention all along the route.
If he gets back safely, Rupert will be presenting on Rocket FM again this autumn.
His journey can be followed on Rocket’s website at
Pictured Annette parking the Smart car alongside a Mack truck.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Is this a Smart way to see the lions? I don't think so

Passengers eye view of 'petrol head' lion at Knowsley Safari Park

The Telegraph (London, England)
By Nigel Bunyan
(Filed: 17/08/2005)

This, then, is fear: not skydiving from 10,000ft without a parachute, but facing being eaten alive by lions while in a car slightly bigger than a vacuum cleaner.

The ultimate in white knuckle rides began with reports that, for some reason probably known only to Sir David Attenborough, lions have a fascination for the Mercedes-built Smart car.

Compared with most other vehicles it is the closest thing to providing a possible tasty snack: crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Read the full story here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Loonie a litre: Gas prices set to head higher

National Post
Tuesday August 16 2005

Front Page: THE COST TO FILL UP : With Canada's average gas price expected to reach $1.00 per litre today, here's what it will cost you to drive these vehicles.

Hummer H2 SUT $18.00 per 100 km
Dodge Carvan $12.20 per 100 km
Toyota Corolla Matrix $7.80 per 100 km
MB smartcar $4.10 per 100 km
Vespa Granturismo $3.80 100 km

Loonie a litre: Gas prices set to head higher

Nationwide Average: 'where's it going to end? I can't speculate on that'

By Rachel Sa

"The nationwide average price of gasoline is poised to break the $1 mark today for the first time, up from last week's average all-time high of 99.3 cents per litre for regular unleaded."

"Some SUV drivers have migrated toward Toyota's new hybrid Highlander SUV, Ms Moody said. " The Highlander hybrid meets the need [of] for SUV driving and offers large space in the back and flexibility, plus it's [a] highbrid and its fuel economy is outstanding," she said."
Of course they mean that the Highlander gets better fuel economy than your average gas guzzling SUV. Like other hybrids, it gets better mileage in the city with assistance from the electric drive. What amazes me is that, according to National Post figures, it costs only 30 cents more per 100 km to drive a smartcar than a Vespa scooter.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

100 mpg Challenge

Keith Herbert of Abbotsford, BC is about to embark on a cross Canada smart car road trip with the goal of achieving fuel consuption of 100 mpg as part of the One Tonne Challenge.

"The first goal of the trip is to make it from Victoria to St. Johns and back on $500.00 of fuel and/or achieve a fuel economy average of 81 mpg (3.5 L/100km) or better during the entire 16,000 kms on the trip."

You can read more about it here:
Good luck and travel safely, Keith.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

smart times 2005 (19 – 21 August)

Lots and lots of colourful Smarts can be found every summer at the Smart Meeting in Klagenfurt! More than 1,000 owners of this fun car come to the sunny south of Austria every year with their brightly coloured cars, and the Smart trip around Lake W├Ârthersee takes place after the Smart parade on Neuer Platz!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

smart sailing

The Chi-Cheemaun - South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island to Tobermory, ON

We bought our first smartcar, an all black 1999 passion, in Dusseldorf, Germany and drove it back to the UK. The fare charged by Hoverspeed varies with the size of your vehicle. We made the trip from Calais, France to Dover, England for the same price a motorcycle would.

At the end of our North American tour, we decided to "head for home" instead of spend another night camping or in a motel. We drove from WaWa, ON onto Manitoulin Island so that we could take the ferry accross Lake Huron/Georgian Bay to Tobermory. This would provide a break for the driver as well as be a fun experience. Unfortunately, the Chi-Cheemaun does not offer discounted prices for smartcars. We had dinner on board which was quite reasonable. As usual "Trudi" got a lot of attention as we waited to board. Many people asked what it was like to drive a smartcar on the highway and what the fuel consumption was like.
Back on terra firma we headed south for Toronto and did some grocery shopping on the way. En route we clocked up 872 km for the day and a total of 14,474 km for the five week tour. We had a fantastic trip but it's always great to be back home.

Monday, August 15, 2005

smartcar fans "Grand Prize"

Trudi Gets a Workout: ZAP! Santa Rosa, California

Woody Allen once said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up". We are firm believers in that maxim. If you just go on chance and show up there are no expectations to be lived up to so you'll not be disappointed. It worked for us several times on our North American smartcar tour.

On July 25th we "showed up" at Zap! headquarters in Santa Rosa, California. We were still trying to negotiate with a parking meter when Zap staff rushed out to greet us - and pay for our parking! We chatted about our tour & smartcars, had a look around their showroom and exchanged contact info. They couldn't have been nicer. Director of Communications Alex Campbell wrote about our visit on ZAP!Watch on the company's website.
"When it comes to Smart Car fans, we believe these two have taken the grand prize, driving for over a month with thousands of kilometers under their belts. California is the midway point for their journey, which is taking them across the United States, up the Pacific Coast to British Columbia and back across Canada to Toronto."

Smart Fuel Consumption & Cost

Total cost of (diesel) fuel on trip:
$448.34 CAD = $375.305 USD = £206.802 GBP
Total distance travelled:
8,984 miles 14,455 km

Fuel Consumption

In Canada: 4.66 l/100km
53.83 mpg (US)
64.59 mpg (Imp)

Average price per litre in CAD = $0.895($0.749 USD, £0.412 GBP)
= $2.84 USD per US gallon

In the USA: 4.37 l/100km
50.49 mpg (US)
60.589 mpg(Imp)

Average price per US gallon in US dollars = $2.57 ($3.070 CAD, £1.41613 GBP)
= $0.807 CAD per litre

Sunday, August 14, 2005

smart car Tour 2005 Accommodation

Fri July 8: Kitchener, ON - Family - The Smalls
Sat July 9: Stevensville, MI - Motel - Ray’s Motel
Sun July 10: Springfield, IL - Camping - Riverside Camping
Mon July 11: Rolla, MO - Hotel - Best Western Coachlight
Tues July 12: Stroud, OK - Hotel - Best Western Motor Lodge
Wed July 13: Amarillo, TX - Camping - KOA
Thurs July 14: Tucumcari, NM - Camping - KOA
Fri July 15: Gallup, NM - Camping - KOA
Sat July 16: Flagstaff, AZ - Camping - KOA
Sun July 17: Prescott, AZ - Hotel - Holiday Inn Express
Mon July 18: Prescott, AZ - Hotel - Holiday Inn Express
Tues July 19: Pomona, CA - Motel - Lemon Tree
Wed July 20: Santa Barbara, CA - Motel - Sandpiper
Thus July 21: Lompoc, CA - Family - The Porters
Fri July 22: Monterey, CA - Hotel - Holiday Inn Express
Sat July 23: Petaluma, CA - Camping - KOA
Sun July 24: Mill Valley, CA - Friend - The Smiths
Mon July 25: Eureka, CA - Camping - KOA
Tues July 26: Bastendorff Beach, OR - Camping - Municipal Camping
Wed July 27: Kelso, WA - Hotel - Best Western Alladin
Thurs July 28: Seattle, WA - Family - The Bareis
Fri July 29: Seattle, WA - Family - The Bareis
Sat July 30: Seattle, WA - Family - The Bareis
Sun July 31: New Westminster, BC - B & B - Dutch Dog
Mon Aug 1: North Vancouver, BC - Hotel - Best Western Capilano
Tues Aug 2: Princeton, BC - Hotel - Best Western Princeton
Wed Aug 3: Cranbrook, BC - Camping - Mt. Baker RV Park
Thurs Aug 4: Blairmore, AB - Motel - Best Canadian Inn
Fri Aug 5: Fort Macleod, AB - Camping - Daisy May
Sat Aug 6: Grassy Lake, AB - Camping - Municipal Camping
Sun Aug 7: Regina, SK - Hotel - Best Western Seven Oaks
Mon Aug 8: Winnipeg, MB - Camping - Welcomestop
Tues Aug 9: Thunder Bay, ON - Hotel - Valhalla
Wed Aug 10: Wawa, ON - Motel - Sportsman’s

Friday, August 12, 2005

smart comments: Week 4 & 5

1. Good luck in your little chariot. (Yorkshireman)
2. Want to trade? (Classic convertible driver)
3. My son's picking his up in Edmonton today. We ordered it on the web 5 months ago.
4. Were you at Waterton last weekend? There were a whole bunch of them there.
5. Those things really fly. A guy passed me the other day doing 130 kph.
6. I just bought my wife an Envoy and now I'm wondering why.
7. It's the first time I've seen one.
8. You're the smartest man I've seen all summer.
9. Remember the Isetta?
10. I'm just waiting to see if the other half shows up.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Warning Signs: Part 3

1. Seven Persons 14km (Alberta town)
2. Stop Dutch Elm Disease. Do not transport elm firewood.
3. Turn in Poachers ( 1 800 number)
4. Odometer Check Zone
5. Pulp Load Check Area
6. Fatigue Kills. Take a Break.
7. Moose Crossing - Night Danger
8. Snowmobile staging area
9. Horse and Buggy
10. Use of Jake Brakes or equivilent prohibited.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Yours to Discover: Ontario

Back in Ontario but still 4 days from home. We view the impressive Kakabeka Falls:
"Known as Niagara of the North, Kakabeka Falls plunges 40 metres over sheer cliffs and some of the oldest fossils in the world. Get a bird's-eye view from jutting platforms and trails along the gorge. Trace voyageurs' steps around the falls in this history-rich park." Read more here.
Stayed at the Valhalla Inn, Thunder Bay,ON.
We have a picnic breakfast at the Terry Fox Scenic Lookout and I can't help wondering what ever happened to Steve Fonyo. Now heading east and enjoying spectacular scenery.

Monday, August 08, 2005

"On the Road Again" Again

After a second visit to RCMP Depot Division, we hit the eastbound Trans Canada Highway and see a coyote sprinting across the road. We pass many trucks loaded with amusement park-type rides. We camp at Welcomestop, 13km east of Winnipeg, do laundry, improvise dinner and fall asleep to the beat of native drumming and singing.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

RCMP Depot Division

Stopped at Grassy Lake Municipal Camping. Visited the RCMP Museum in Regina - more book research. Regina is hosting the Canada Games at various venues throughout the city.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Warning! :Part Two

1. Stock at Large.(The Stock at Large sign indicates to drivers the possibility of livestock animals in the vacinity. Extra care should be taken.)
2. Bighorn Sheep crossing.
3. Logging Trucks.
4. Please avoid use of engine brakes in urban areas.
5. Rocky Mountain Sheep crossing.
6. Drug and Prostitution watch area. License numbers are being recorded.

The Fort: Northwest Mounted Police Museum, Macleod, AB

We camped last night at the Daisy May Campground at Macleod, AB where Syd and Pat from Raymond, AB and their playful pup Emma showed true western friendliness and hospitality. This morning we revisited the RNWMP cemetery where Rupert's grandfather's cousin, Constable George Ernest Willmett, is buried to take photos. Ru is writing a book about the 1908 murder of Const. Willmett in Frank, AB and is avidly conducting field research. Next stop was The Fort: North West Mounted Police Museum where mounties clad in historical uniforms perform musical rides.

Now on our way to Vulcan, AB we have stopped for a delicious lunch at Aunt Alma's Country Kitchen and to use the library's computers in Nanton, AB.

Friday, August 05, 2005

smart car comments: Week 3

1. You could put a mowing attachment on it.
2. Thank you - I learned something new today.
3. That is by far the smallest car I've ever seen (Seattle Police officer).
4. Does it have a motorcycle engine in it? (Seattle bus driver).
5. It looks like a tobacco can rolling down the highway.
6. I could put it in the back of my truck for spare parts.
7. It's as cute as a bug's ear.
8. Don't park it just carry it on your back.
9. I didn't know a smart car could do such a long trip on the highway. In Italy where I come from we use them in the city. I'll have to tell my mother!
10. That's a cool, cool car.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fort Steele Heritage Town, B.C.

In the brilliant sunshine of an August day, the location of Fort Steele seems idyllic. But one can't help wondering what it's like during the winter months and what it must have been like for the original settlers. Unfortunately, the steam train was not running due to "maintenance" but we didn't let it dampen our spirits.

Excerpt from official website:

"The origin of Fort Steele can be traced to the small settlement of Galbraith's Ferry, which was born during the 1864 Kootenay Gold Rush to Wild Horse Creek. In 1888 the settlement's name was changed to Fort Steele to honour Superintendent Samuel Benfield (Sam) Steele of the North-West Mounted Police , who peacefully reduced tensions between the Ktunaxa and the white and Chinese settlers who were relatively new to the area.

In 1961 the Province of British Columbia purchased the site and committed to "preserve, present and manage for public benefit the historic settlement of Fort Steele, including significant or representative elements of historical value relating to the development of East Kootenay." This continues today as the general mission of this heritage site."

The Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, Cranbrook B.C.

This fantastic tourist attraction is very much a work in progress. We throughly enjoyed our guided hour tour and refreshments in the opulent recreated Royal Alexandra Hotel Cafe. It is quite extrordinary how so many of these elegant rail cars have been assembled in one place. The amount of money and painstaking work to restore a single car - $200,000 - is mind blowing. Read more here: Canadian Museum of Rail Travel

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

smart service: "A Service"

When our odometer reading surpased the 8,000 km mark, a little wrench symbol appeared on the instrument panel. We knew that Trudi was due for her first check up. Since we were in the states at the time, we phoned a Vancouver smart centre and were told that the earliest they could do it was in two weeks. They put us through to another smart centre where we were told, "just bring it in". It took some time to locate the Boundry Road smart centre as the listing on the card we were given said it was in North Vancouver and it is actually in Burnaby. Not being from around those parts we wasted nearly an hour looking in the wrong city on the Monday evening which was a national holiday. We stopped at a tourist info centre and were given proper directions - we had no trouble finding the place at 8 am the next morning. I felt a little awkward bringing the car in to be serviced loaded up with luggage and camping gear but the service staff were understanding and helpful. I relaxed with a cup of tea and watched CNN while waiting a mere hour and a half for the service to be completed. Trudi was in great shape and was returned to us clean inside and out.

Service Scope A: 2 August 2005 Odometer 9635 km
Oil Brand/Viscosity: QS 5W30

Mercedes Benz Canada Inc
1325 Boundary Rd
Vancouver, BC

Cost: Service Scope A $117.60
Oil filter cartridge 7.25
3 synth 5w30 oil 22.35
1 glass cleaner 3.52
Misc charges 5.88
Sales Tax 21.90

Total Cost: 178.52

Monday, August 01, 2005

Downtown Historic Railway: Vancouver's Best Kept Secret

A year or so ago, we read about folks in Vancouver who were running historic interurban cars and knew it was a "must see". It took a little sleuthing to find but was well worth it. We parked the car (free) and took the $2 ride from "Science World" through "leg-in-boot" to Granville Island. The market was gridlocked with traffic but we just walked in off of the train. Read more about it here: Downtown Historic Railway