Friday, December 23, 2005

DaimlerChrysler Stalls Smart Launch in U.S.

DaimlerChrysler Stalls Smart Launch in U.S.
Date posted: 12-20-2005

STUTTGART, Germany — DaimlerChrysler has delayed into 2006 a decision on whether to launch its Smart minicar brand in the United States, according to Reuters.
A decision that was originally set to be made by the end of 2005 may wait until the Geneva car show in late February. DaimlerChrysler has been considering whether the successor to the two-seat Fortwo model would get a U.S. launch in the second half of 2007.
Smart chief Ulrich Walker has said it should be possible to sell 20,000 vehicles a year in cities on the U.S. coasts. Smart sold 140,000 vehicles around the world last year.
What this means to you: Sounds like DaimlerChrysler has yet to make a sound business case for bringing the Smart brand here.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Think Pink

See the new special edition pink fortwo available in the UK here.

The smart fortwo grandstyle Delivers Looks and Performance

Böblingen, Nov 28, 2005 — Combining quality and elegance: the smart fortwo grandstyle with a silver tridion safety cell and bodypanels in exclusive "dark green metallic." The special model will be delivered to customers from February 2006 and can be ordered right away.
The smart fortwo grandstyle is available as a fortwo coupé or a fortwo cabrio, with a 45 kW (61 bhp) petrol engine or a 30 kW (41 bhp) diesel engine fitted with a diesel particle filter as standard. The smart fortwo grandstyle offers customers looking for a vehicle with lifestyle appeal lots of fun behind the wheel coupled with an attractive price/performance ratio.
Available as an option: classy beige leather trim comprising heated leather seats, interior door trim and storage pockets in beige leather and a black leather-effect instrument panel.
Also available: the audio package with MP3 interface (for the connection of external audio devices), a clock and a rev counter. Moreover, special silver-painted contrast components give the vehicle's interior a strikingly high-quality feel. The petrol-engine variants cost € 11,600 and € 14,300 respectively in Germany and the diesel variants are available at a price of € 12,500 and € 15,200 (prices refer to the fortwo coupé and the fortwo cabrio). The leather trim costs € 750.

View source.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Zenn and the art of city driving

What sets ZENN apart from the crowd? Unlike other neighborhood electric vehicles, it has the form and features of a real car: it’s a fully-enclosed, three-door hatchback with a performance-proven, steel-reinforced body. That translates into a tremendous safety advantage.
ZENN not only looks like a car; it performs like one, too. Equipped with front-wheel drive, brisk acceleration and capable of achieving a regulated maximum speed of 25 mph (40 km/h), it keeps pace with traffic on local streets to get you where you’re going safely and in good time. And ZENN’s battery efficiency gives you the freedom to cover a lot of ground: 30 to 40 miles per charge (50 to 60 kilometres).
At the same time, ZENN delivers the environmental advantages of an electric vehicle, generating zero greenhouse-gas emissions. Compare that to the 657 pounds of regulated tailpipe emissions produced by the typical gas-powered car every year.
And ZENN is protected by a comprehensive three-year warranty, the best on the market for its class. That warranty is backed by Feel Good Cars’ commitment to fully support ZENN dealers in delivering first-rate customer service, day in and day out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

smart Shows Diesel and Gasoline Hybrids, EV and CNG Prototypes of smart Car

12 December 2005, Green Car Congress
DaimlerChrysler’s smart division has developed a series of concept test cars that incorporate a range of advanced and alternative-fuel technologies: gasoline and diesel hybrids, cng-fueled, and electric.
These follow on the premiere of the crosstown hybrid showcar concept presented at the Frankfurt auto show in September.
The crosstown hybrid. The crosstown smart car prototype combines an electric motor (with an output of up to 23 kW) with the 45 kW (61 hp) gasoline engine from the smart fortwo.
The result is a 15% reduction in fuel consumption to 4.3 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers (55 mpg US). The smart crosstown furthermore offers approximately 10% better acceleration (the production car requires 15.5 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h).
The mild hybrid system offers start-stop capability as well as assistance during acceleration and during gear changes.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Does the smart car have a future?

December 13, 2005
by Mathieu St-Pierre ,
The smart fortwo has been on the Canadian market for less than 18 months and it has not sold as well as DaimlerChrysler, smart's parent company, would have liked. Worse, global sales have not been very good either. In fact, since its inception, smart has never turned a profitable dollar or Euro for that matter. Since 1998, and because of smart, DCX has lost EUR2.6bn and 2005 is looking like another lost cause even if they sell more cars than last year.
2005 has been tough. Two models were flushed: the Roadster and the formore SUV. Financial losses are estimated at EUR600m. The forfour 4-seater is not catching on as well as the fortwo and smart's entry into the American market is still very doubtful.
At the moment, smart is undergoing a EUR1.1bn restructuring process with the goal to make the car company profitable by 2007. By the same year, the next-generation fortwo will be launched and the most recent plans also include the introduction of the smart in the US.
There are two opinions amongst industry analysts: do it and don't do it, move into the US market that is. The success of the next generation fortwo will have much to do with the decision of whether DCX will invest in a second-generation forfour.
DaimlerChrysler is working on merging certain aspects of the smart's development process with Mercedes. With hopes of keeping costs down and interest up, smart is working hard to make 2007 the year of the 180-degree turn-around.
Let us hope they can do it.

View source here.

smart sales climb 5.5 percent through November

Despite the continued sluggishness of the small-car segment, the number of smart cars delivered to customers between January and November rose by 5.5 percent compared to the same period last year, to 132,900 units. A total of 11,700 units were delivered to customers in the month of November.
Total sales of the smart forfour were up by approximately 37 percent through November, and the four-seater's sales in Italy — the brand’s most important market — more than doubled from the figure posted for the first eleven months of 2004. The smart fortwo continues to display stable development in its seventh year of existence, with sales through November at nearly the same level recorded for the period January-November 2004.

Source: daimlerchrysler

Sunday, December 11, 2005

ZAP Xebra Electric Vehicle

The fun, compact and affordable electric vehicle.
Approximate MSRP $8,995.

Speed: Up to 40 mph (65 km/ph)
Range: Up to 40 miles (65 km)
Charger: Onboard 110 Volt AV

Motor: DC
Seating: Up to 4
Battery: Lead Acid

Classification: 3 wheel motor driven cycle
Dimensions: 9.5’ Length (290 cm) x 4.66’ Width (142 cm) x 5.05’ Height (154 cm)
Colors: Kiwi Green, Aqua Turquoise, Sunset Red and Zebra Flash
Options: Luggage rack, Leather Seats, 220V Charger

Sold only through ZAP Authorized Dealers

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Smart car runs 340,000 miles in 5 years

By Haje Jan Kamps, 08/11/2005

The iconic car, first registered in 2000, is still running on the original 3-cylinder engine and gearbox. It began its life 5 years ago doing daily trips of almost 200 miles for a German dental laboratory and has since been run by an automotive magazine.
The car’s repair history during its marathon mileage has been unspectacular: the original brakes were changed at 84,000 miles and the clutch at 96,000 miles. All other repairs have been minor and the car is still going strong.
Chris Smith, Car Editor at Glass’s Guide, said: "Facts like these underpin our opinion that the smart fortwo has the best residual value of any of its competitors."
Jeremy Simpson, head of smart in the UK and Ireland, said: "Many people make the assumption that small cars are not particularly durable, however, smart is no ordinary small car because it is engineered by Mercedes-Benz. It has been seven years since the original fortwo was launched in Europe and so it’s no surprise to see stories like this appearing around the world."
The smart fortwo was launched in the UK in October 2000 and there are now more than 37,000 models on British roads.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Route 66 the smart way

Rare brick stretch of Route 66 near Auburn, Illinois.

Smartimes Magazine, November 2005
An ex-pat Brit has shown the Americans that size isn’t everything, and bigger is not always better.
Former Sussex resident Rupert Lloyd Thomas, with his Canadian wife Annette, has driven the smallest car the US has ever seen across the 2,300 miles of Route 66 - and more. Said Rupert ‘Here’s the lowdown: Drive the smart car down old-time Route 66 in the US of A to see what the good old boys think about this small wonder. The trip is a kind of antidote to gas guzzling in the land of pickup trucks and enormous sport utility vehicles.
Rupert and Annette missed the smart car they had in Lewes when [they] move[d] to Canada four years ago. Therefore, when it was announced the smart was Canada bound – they purchased a hot, phat red coupé.
‘Starting from Toronto we crossed the US border in the town of Sarnia, located in the province of Ontario. We then drove through Michigan and Indiana to the start of Route 66 in Chicago, at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. In the faded Chicago suburb of Cicero an old black fella pulled up alongside at a stoplight – “I like your car man” – our smart, an instant ice breaker.
Folks were intrigued and enchanted although some laughed at the car so hard they couldn’t speak. The message to them was that 50 miles a US gallon is possible and most people got it loud and clear.’
‘The “muffler men” are a feature on Route 66 – originally they held a muffler - hence the name - but have been adapted over the years. We took in the “Gemini Giant” spaceman in Wilmington, Illinois, and the “Lauterbach Giant” in Springfield, who now holds an American flag in front of Lauterbach’s Tyres.
‘We visited the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas - a truly spiritual experience. There are no opening hours, admission charge, concession stand or anything else - just a bunch of old Cadillacs nose down in a field.
‘At the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, half way along Route 66, the lady owner rushed out to photograph our little chariot in front of her sign. We backtracked a short way and headed south on a straight, deserted country road on the high plains of the Texas Panhandle to Clovis, New Mexico, on the trail of Buddy Holly.
You need an appointment to visit the Norman Petty Recording Studios at 1313 W. 7th Street but the “just show up” philosophy worked as we were greeted by Ken Broad, who showed us round after lunch. We went down the street to the Foxy Drive-In, “where Buddy used to hang out.” It hasn’t changed a bit and Rupert and Annette snacked on a chicken burger waiting to get indoors at the studio.
‘The studio is in a time warp with all the original gear on display – and Rupert says that he freaked out as he listened to Buddy through the original sound system while sitting in the chair in the control room - all the hits were recorded here. Roy Orbison was here and the smash hit “Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, a New Mexico band, was recorded in this studio. What a blast they both say!
Adds Rupert: ‘We were mobbed everywhere. A lot of women think the car is cute. In Gallup, New Mexico, a Navajo woman was practically in tears because she wanted the car so badly. “We made common cause with the bikers who were hip to our minimalist approach and tended to come alongside at campsites.”
‘Endless freight trains, each with up to four diesel engines, pulling double-stacked container-cars. The train whistle is the signature tune of the tour coupled with the background music of American country radio.
Stopping in Winslow, Arizona for the usual photo shoot at the “corner” made famous in the Eagles’ song “Take it Easy” was fun and exciting.
Crossing the Continental Divide at 7,245ft, the Mojave Desert was driven in the daylight hours. The smart took everything thrown at it - hitting the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica, California where Route 66, the “mother road”, runs out.
‘We covered 8,984 miles in 35 days, heading home via the Pacific Coast Highway and the Trans-Canada.’ they say.
‘Route 66 is everything it is cracked up to be and I could do it again tomorrow. I was in kitsch heaven with Americana run riot - old cars, motels, neon signs and gas-station memorabilia.’
Note: Rupert Lloyd Thomas has a blog at

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Smart car follows in footsteps of BMW's Isetta

Photo by ALT, Micronorth 2005, Orillia, ON

Thursday, December 1, 2005 Posted at 9:29 AM EST
Globe and Mail Update

Over the past year, tiny two-seat mini cars have been appearing on the streets of Canadian cities.
They've been welcomed as just the things needed to save the planet by some and as something of a novelty by others. But the Mercedes-Benz Smart car isn't the first of this type to be imported to Canada, or even the first from a German luxury car maker. That honour goes to the classic micro-machine of the 1950s: BMW's Isetta bubble car.
The egg-shaped Isetta was born in the aftermath of the Second World War when money, materials and fuel were scarce, one of a number of designs from makers such as Messerschmitt, Heinkel, Dornier, Gogomobile, Trojan and Scootacar.
But by the time the Isetta eventually arrived in North America in the late 1950s, it was a solution to a problem that simply didn't exist here. Although today, with transaction prices averaging $30,000, gas near enough a buck a litre and traffic in near gridlock, we can look back on the 1957 version advertised in Toronto newspapers with a degree of nostalgia.
Isetta Motors of Canada would sell you one of these minuscule motorcars for $1,098 ($366 down, $9 a week) and promised it would get 75 miles per gallon, or better than 4.0 L/100 km. It was just 2,283 mm long (or about 400 mm more than many modern vehicles are wide) and weighed 350 kg. Up front were wide-spaced, 10-inch diameter wheels, while the rears were just 518 mm apart.

Read full article here.

Note: Four wheeled Isettas imported to Canada were manufactured in Brighton, East
Sussex. Read more about Isettas here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

DaimlerChrysler near Smart car decision

DETROIT, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- By mid-2006 DaimlerChrysler AG will have decided whether to sell a line of ultra-small cars in the United States.
The next generation of the so-called Smart car's tiny Fortwo model has been engineered to meet all U.S. safety and environmental standards, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.
They go on sale in Europe in 2007, said a DaimlerChrysler spokesman.
In the next six months or so, he said, the company must determine if the tiny cars will be profitable in the United States.