Thursday, May 18, 2006

Time Use Expert's 7-year Fight for Better Gas Mileage

Newswise — It took nearly seven years, but a University of Maryland time-use expert finally managed to get his answer to better fuel mileage into this country – the “Smart Car.” “I'm probably one of the first in Maryland or the DC area to own one,” says John Robinson, a sociologist and a national expert on time usage. “It’s essentially a car cut in half, but it can get up to 50 miles per gallon, seats two very comfortably and is cleverly designed. It’s a little bigger than a motorcycle, but a lot safer. I saw one in Paris in 1999 and have been trying to get one ever since.”
Ironically, U.S. regulations made it difficult to import the German/French car. “I spent hundreds of hours and made thousands of phone calls satisfying all the red tape,” he says. “It had to be retrofitted to meet various U.S. standards, including some environmental ones, even though it’s one of the cleanest cars on the road.”
Several earlier attempts to import the car failed. But Robinson says the bureaucratic kinks have been worked out, and it was shipped through a California company that retrofitted it and sent it on to a New Hampshire dealership. He drove it home to Maryland in a blinding rain storm just before Mother’s Day.
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