Thursday, August 31, 2006

smart fortwo sees red in Paris

Posted Aug 30th 2006 1:59PM by Alex Nunez
The current smart fortwo is going to go out in a flash of color as the "edition red" makes its debut at the Paris Motor Show. The monochrome edition red is doused in copious amounts of "intensive red" paint and similarly, the interior is also touched up in the firey tone. As for the rest of the tiny passenger cabin, it gets the luxo-treatment with fancy-stitch leather and Alcantara surface coverings, aluminum pedals, an aftermarket-looking shifter, A/C, and an MP3-ready audio system. Motivation comes from the BRABUS smart's more robust 75-horsepower engine and accordingly, the body is decked out with the tuner's familiar 16" rims, a muscular front spoiler, and a sport muffler. The edition red will be available in coupe and cabrio bodystyles, both of which will be visible from outer space thanks to smart's arresting paint scheme.
The next-generation fortwo will debut in the spring and smart tells us that what's left of the current generation model is practically sold out.
Read more here.

Project Kimber smart roadster to Begin Production Next Summer

250 jobs to go at Panasonic
Aug 29 2006 - Western Mail

FINAL confirmation came yesterday that the Panasonic factory in Port Talbot will close in December with the loss of about 250 jobs.
The Japanese multinational electronics manufacturer has decided to switch production of the car speakers made at the plant to Asia and Slovakia.
Jerry Lewis, general manager of the factory, said employees would be given benefits which went "way, way, beyond" the statutory redundancy package.
The 140,000 sq ft site is expected to get a new lease of life as the manufacturing base for venture company Project Kimber's relaunch of DaimlerChrysler's Smart roadster and coupe sports cars.
If Project Kimber does start production in Port Talbot, many of the former Panasonic workers may find employment at the site.
The team behind the Smart car plan were said to have been attracted to South Wales by the skilled labour force in the area.
Production is intended to start by next summer, with 8,000 models hitting the road in the first year.
Read full article here

Monday, August 28, 2006

Full Test: 2003 ZAP Smart Fortwo

Clown car or contender?
By Phillip Reed
Date posted: 08-24-2006
The Smart Fortwo is like driving a smiley face down the road. When you're in it, everyone is your best friend and you're always the center of attention — whether you like it or not.
More to the point, the Smart car, built by Mercedes-Benz and imported to the U.S. by ZAP, is a barometer of the public's interest in alternative solutions to the trio of problems facing our country: oil addiction, air pollution and clogged inner-city arteries. This becomes obvious from the host of questions machine-gunned at anyone driving this car. "Is it electric?" people ask. "A hybrid?" they inquire. "Fuel cell?" They have to believe a car this different in looks is also different under the skin.
A thrifty combination
No, we explain to onlookers, the Smart's thriftiness is not due to Star Wars technology. The designers at Smart (owned by Mercedes) just reworked the power-to-weight ratio for economy. The car is little more than a passenger compartment 8 feet long and weighing 1,588 pounds. Then they powered it with a turbocharged 61-horsepower rear-mounted three-cylinder gas engine that makes 70 pound-feet of torque and delivers more than 40 miles per [US] gallon. The result is a "city car" that is perfect for tucking into small parking spaces and threading through clogged urban roadways.
Read full article - which includes a full assessment of the smart including safety, fuel economy and comfort - here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

2006 UK smart car Rally - September 24th.

The fifth annual smart car Rally is to take place on 24 September.
The Rally will start at Mercedes-Benz World - a new multi million pound brand new experience being developed at the historic Brooklands racing circuit in Weybridge, Surrey.
It is expected that more than 1,000 participants will join the colourful convoy of smart cars which will set off on their adventure at 10.00am.
They will then travel to their final destination of Brighton Racecourse, Freshfield Road, which will be open from 11.30am.
View source.

Yale Shmale: Lakehead University Campaign

There are universities and then there are universities. So let's not beat around the bush.
Lakehead is different.
We believe the person you become after you graduate is even more important than the person you were when you enrolled.
Our professors and staff will prepare you to meet the challenges of your chosen profession.
Experience a dynamic university in a unique environment. Make the smart choice.
Go to a university that cares how well you do after you leave.

Win a smart car 4 year lease.

Orillia campus My Lakehead

Read more about the campaign here:
U.S. president bushwhacked by university campaign
Ont. campus draws fire for 'Yale Shmale' swipe at Bush

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Warming up the States

Nascar driver Kurt Busch, the pole-sitter for Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, is showing off his new smart car on behalf of team owner Roger Penske. The thought of loading the small car on the RV [motorhome] has already gone round the paddock.
The new USA website is live here once you work out how to skip the annoying intro - fairly anodyne site featuring Dr. Z and RP - but an early indication that the smart is on its way. RLT

Bloor West Village Ukrainian Festival

Toronto Mayoral candidate Jane Pitfield was spotted riding in a smart cabrio to the Bloor West Village Ukrainian Festival - the only smart in the parade.

Photo by RLT

Ouch, that smarts!

Filed under: Cross Canada Relay — admin at 7:30 pm on Thursday, August 24, 2006
Eileen, a smart owner from Greater Vancouver, had the misfortune of a flat Wednesday evening near Cranbrook, BC. smarts do not come equipped with a spare tire, although some people are known to carry them on longer trips. The smart does come equipped with a repair kit and air compressor, however, this particular flat was beyond repair.

smart Canada provided a replacement tire to a group of relay participants in Calgary, who then made the journey from Lethbridge to Cranbrook on Thursday to bring the relay baton into BC. Here’s a photo from the day. Eileen’s car is the pink one.

Source: clubsmartcar relay blog

Support the Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Society today.

New ZAP Electric Vehicle a Different Kind of Horsepower for US Car

ZAP introduces multi-purpose electric vehicle to utility, corporate and municipal fleet managers in California
SANTA ROSA, California (August 24, 2006) - Automotive pioneer ZAP [NYSE Arca:ZP] is rolling out a new, all-electric vehicle today designed to address the need for gas-free alternatives with multi-purpose city driving, from industrial fleets to commuting.
Called the XEBRA PK, this latest ZAP seats two with a multi-purpose platform behind the passenger compartment that serves as a hauler, dump truck or flatbed. Officials with the Company say they had test-marketed a single passenger version, but feedback told them a two-passenger version would be more versatile.
Read article here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Consumer Vision: Trip to Boston? No, can't have it.

Hubby got a phone call today from a guy who identified himself as Frederick from Consumer Vision, which as it turns out is a legit market research firm here in Toronto. He says they are recruiting smart car owners to attend a focus group in Boston (they'll take care of airfare and hotel etc) the weekend of September 16th. Hubby says,"sounds great". Frederick then asks his age. Hubby responds. Frederick says, "oh, sorry you're not eligible. We'll put you on a waiting list in case someone cancels". Hubby is more than unimpressed, he's insulted.

We believe that they got our contact info from MB Canada.

I'm wondering if anyone else has received a similar call.

Do you eat the red ones last?

Spotted outside smart Canada headquarters - two smarties smarts promoting their "What's your favourite colour?" contest. Nestle are giving away 3 custom coloured smart coupes. Enter the PIN code found inside a smarties box to see if you are an instant winner or enter the UPC code of a variety of nestle products to be entered in the sweepstakes. What smarties colour would you choose? Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Looking 'Smart' and turning heads

Julie Folk, Leader-Post Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Garry Stearns' vision of groups of Smart ForTwo cars travelling together down Canadian highways has turned into an organized relay -- and has turned a lot of heads.
As a baton is passed from province to province, so is information about the Smart car, dispelling myths and ideas people have about the little two-seater.
"It takes five minutes to fill the car, but 25 minutes to get away from the pump," Stearns, the relay organizer, said about the questions he fields from curious onlookers. "The interest this relay has caused is phenomenal."
According to Moose Jaw's Kristian Sjoberg -- the provincial captain for the relay -- not many Saskatchewan people know about the Mercedes-Benz car or the relay, which drove into Regina on Monday night.
"It feels like you're driving some sort of Lamborghini Countach or something (rare), because every time you drive down the street, everybody stares," Sjoberg said after finishing a pancake breakfast held at the RCMP Depot campground in Regina on Tuesday morning.
Read the full article here.

City of Ottawa gets smart

During the Ottawa to Toronto leg of the clubsmartcar cross-Canada relay, we spotted this City of Ottawa by-law services smart car. From the city's website listed under environmental tips for residents: Choose the right size vehicle
Do you need a big truck or a mid-sized truck? Do you need a truck at all? Do you need a four-seat vehicle when only one person ever uses the vehicle? These are the simple questions you should ask yourself to ensure you are using the right size of vehicle. You may find that you will save yourself money in fuel costs and still get the job done, while cutting emissions considerably.
Take for example the Smart Car purchased for By-law Services at the City of Ottawa. It is a two-seater that is used by one person. No need for back seats. Just one Smart Car will save the City $1,000 a year in fuel and result in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by two to three tonnes per year.

Business smarts 20: PC Sparkle

PC Sparkle is an Ottawa based computer technical support company. They provide: pc & network setup and troubleshooting; security assistance; data recovery and other services for small businesses and personal pc users.
Tel: (613) 816-7264

Sunday, August 20, 2006

smart car “New” Tour 2006 Summary

Thurs July 20-Little Falls, New York (Best Western) 557 k 345 miles;
Fri July 21-Marlow, New Hampshire (The Wrigley’s Camp) 308k 191 miles;
Sat July 22-Keene, New Hampshire (The Wrigley’s Home) 52k 32 miles;
Sun July 23-Canaan, Maine (KOA Campground) 497 k 308 miles;
Mon July 24-Houlton, Maine (Ivey’s Motor Lodge) 343k 213 miles;
Tues July 25-Woodstock, New Brunswick (Connell Park Campground) 98k 61 miles;
Wed July 26-Woodstock, New Brunswick Connell Park Campground 132k 82 miles;
Thurs July 27-Sussex, New Brunswick (All Seasons Inn) 349k 216 miles;
Fri July 28-Port Hastings, Nova Scotia (Scotia Econo Lodge) 435k 270 miles;
Sat July 29-Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland (St Christopher’s Hotel) 237k 147 miles;
Sun July 30-Cornerbrook, Newfoundland (Prince Edward Campground) 418k 259 miles;
Mon July 31-Gander, Newfoundland (Comfort Inn) 370k 229 miles;
Tues Aug 1-St John’s, Newfoundland (Memorial University) 356k 220 miles;
Wed Aug 2-St John’s, Newfoundland (Memorial University) 34k 21 miles;
Thurs Aug 3-St John’s, Newfoundland (Memorial University) 42k 26 miles;
Fri Aug 4-St John’s, Newfoundland (Memorial University) 63k 39 miles;
Sat Aug 5-St John’s, Newfoundland (Memorial University) 54k 33 miles;
Sun Aug 6-Deer Lake, Newfoundland (Driftwood Inn) 674k 417 miles;
Mon Aug 7-North Sydney, Nova Scotia (Best Western) 274k 170 miles;
Tues Aug 8-Shediac, New Brunswick (Camping Beausejour) 485k 301 miles;
Wed Aug 9- Newcastle, New Brunswick (Comfort Inn) 206k 128 miles;
Thurs Aug 10-Rimouski, Quebec (Comfort Inn) 678k 420 miles;
Fri Aug 11-St.Catherines, Quebec (Frandy Motel) 616k 259 miles;
Sat Aug 12-Ottawa, Ontario (Travelodge) 223k 138 miles;
Sun Aug 13-Ottawa, Ontario (Travelodge) 46k 13 miles;
Mon Aug 14-Ottawa, Ontario (Travelodge) 0k 0 miles;
Tues Aug 15-Ottawa, Ontario (Travelodge) 0k 0 miles;
Wed Aug 16-Toronto, Ontario HOME 473k 293 miles.

New Tour Wrap Up

Our tour ended with participation in club smart car's cross-Canada relay on the Ottawa to Toronto leg. From having photos taken in front of the parliament building to breakfast at smart Centre Ottawa Star Motors to our reception at smart Canada headquarters at Midtown in Toronto it was an amazing journey. Having a police escort that blocked intersections so that the smart could run the red light was a real blast. As always, it was fun chatting with other club smart car members.
The relay is the brain-child of Garry Stearns of Kemptville, ON seen here at Midtown on August 16. Starting on August 7th in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and ending on August 28 in Victoria, BC, the relay is raising money for the Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Society.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New smart will spearhead the turnaround

More rumours circulating about the next-edition smart fortwo, crucial to putting smart in the black. A highly-placed source indicates that the 2008 model will be "more comfortable and more powerful." The spec is not yet finalised but much will be revealed when the new model is launched in Europe in spring 2007. The next stage in the program will be a right-hand-drive version for the UK and elsewhere. Then the car will be launched in the USA in 2008. The question remains about detail-spec differences between Canada, the USA and other markets. Will the gas-engined car make it to Canada? Dealer sources would indicate that this is the case but HQ are not saying.

The marketing in the USA, although not tied to Mercedes dealers, will follow the smart worldwide format. The branding, look and feel of the dealers will follow that in other markets. We can confirm that Roger Penske was in Toronto recently, arriving in his private jet, to view Canadian dealerships, the market in Canada being treated as the test market for North America. Penske will head the US marketing effort and will have input into the car specification for this important market.

Smart are pleased at the sale of some 7,000 cars in Canada since the launch, running well ahead of expectation. Can they repeat the success in the far-bigger US market? RLT

Monday, August 14, 2006

"New" Tour Day 25: Ottawa, ON

Monday Aug 15 2006

Spent the day at the National Archives where hubby is "mopping up" loose ends on his book research. The Archives and Library are undergoing renovations so things were not "business as usual" but we busked it. I hope that it means short-term pain for long-term gain.

Sunday Aug 14 2006

Greatly enjoyed visiting the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography to see their current exhibits: The Painted Photograph and The Street. Then spent nearly three hours in the European Wing of the National Gallery of Canada visiting such old friends as Turner, Chantrey, Van Gough & Gaugin. Enoyed a tasty reasonably priced lunch there too.

Drove out to Barrhaven to meet Eric Eggleston at the studio where he's working on a new album. Got caught up on news over dinner and he tipped us off to a 24-hour coin operated car wash so we freshened up the smart on the way back to the hotel.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"New" Tour Day 24: Ottawa, Ontario

Partied at Hooley's with the Eric Eggleston Band last night. What a blast! The band get tighter everytime we see them play. Eric just got back from England as a record label expressed interest in a new single.

We've made plans to hook up with the Club Smart Car's Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Society Cross Canada Relay here in Ottawa on Wednesday morning.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"New" Tour Days 21 to 23 : Ottawa, Ontario

Saturday Aug 12: Ottawa, OntarioTo Exporail for their 10 am opening after breakfast at Harvey's. This world-class (and I don't use the term lightly) museum is home to the Canadian Railroad Historical Association. " The Canadian Railway Museum at Delson/Saint-Constant offers its public a unique opportunity to see and experience life in the railway world. In fact, visitors can see not only trains, streetcars and all their related infrastructures, but also use these various modes of transportation right on the Museum grounds. The garden train operates daily on the site while the observation streetcar, nicknamed the Golden Chariot, runs when the weather permits. And every Sunday, a passenger train takes visitors for a short trip up to Montée des Bouleaux."
Easily navigated out of Montreal to Ottawa where we will stay for 4 nights.

Friday Aug 11: Rimouski, Quebec
A long day on the road - clocked 616 km. Some heavy traffic and roadworks along the way. Interesting Quebec villages and much more farming than we've seen in a while. We are amazed at the number of folk still hitch-hiking in this part of the world.

Thursday Aug 10: Montreal, Quebec
Toured the Acadian Peninsula in the rain. I have very fond memories of travels to Shippagan, Lameque and Miscou with my family as a child. It is much more built-up than when I was a kid and I couldn't help but think of that old adage, "you can never go back". We enjoyed watching herons, sandpipers and a kingfisher feeding along the shore. The harbours are picturesque and it was interesting to watch fishermen unload their catch and pack it in ice. We picked up the fixings for lunch at the COOP and headed to the lighthouse on Miscou Island for a picnic.
Drove westward and up into Quebec. More spectacular scenery including a glorious sunset reflected in the St Lawrence River at Rimouski where we stayed the night.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"New" Tour Days 16 to 20: Miramichi, New Brunswick

Wednesday Aug 9: Shediac, New Brunswick.

Glorious weather today as we head north along the "Acadian Coast" of Canada's only officially bilingual province. Picturesque fishing villages and photo ops abound. Met Remi Legacy of Fero disposal. He's enjoying his smart and saving on fuel costs so much that the company are planning to get another 3 on the road.

Tuesday Aug 8: North Sydney, Nova Scotia

Drove through Cape Breton island. Heavy rain at times. Had to pull off the highway at one point as the smart was aquaplaning. Set up camp at Beausejour Camping near Shediac, New Brunswick.

Monday Aug 7: Deer Lake, Newfoundland

After a quick grocery shopping pit stop at Dominion in Corner Brook, we headed to the ferry docks at Port aux Basques. While waiting for the boat, we met another smart driver David Drummond who was returning to his home in Sussex, NB. David, who often travels to Newfoundland, is very pleased with his car and often has to answer questions about how the smart handles the high wind conditions on "The Rock". The answers is, "just fine". I think it would be much more dangerous pulling a motor home behind a fifth-wheel.
This time we travelled on the Leif Eriksson and were entertained by two local musicians who told "Newfie" jokes between numbers. We slept very soundly at the Best Western North Star Inn in North Sydney, NS.

Sunday Aug 6: St John's, Newfoundland

Did the laundry and packed up the night before for early departure - were on the road at 6 am headed for Deer Lake, NL. Reached the Driftwood Inn at about 2 o'clock and were glad to get out of the car despite enjoying the wonderful scenery en route. Walked down to Tim Horton's for a bite to eat. It was one of the best we'd ever been to, and that's saying something. The cleanliness, floor layout, recycling bins and service were top notch. After watching Jenson Button with the Hungarian Grand Prix, we had dinner at Jungle Jim's which was in the motel.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"New" Tour Day 14 & 15: St John's, Newfoundland

Saturday Aug 5

Drove out to the smart/Mercedes dealership at 673 Topsail Road. Sign on the door said they were opened Saturdays from 9:00 to 5:00. We got there at noon and the place was locked up tight - their morning newspaper was still sitting on the doorstep. Hard to conduct business when you don't keep to your posted hours. We snapped a couple of pictures with our smart out front and headed back into town. Interesting tour at the Newman Wine Vaults a Newfoundland Historic Trust property on Water Street. "According to tradition, a Newman's ship bound for London in 1679 was driven far from its planned course by pirates and foul weather. The captain of the ship sought shelter in St. John's, and as winter was closing fast upon them, it was decided to remain in the harbour until spring. The ship's cargo of wine was stored in caves, and when the ship returned to London, the flavour of the port seemed to have improved. After that discovery, Newman's sent its port to Newfoundland to mature in wine cellars there. The wine which was shipped from Newfoundland to England became very popular as a high quality wine in English pubs and amongst the aristocracy." Discovered The Sprout on Duckworth Street as they had a booth at the Folk Festival. We sampled their wares, including an excellent Curried Couscous Salad, on Friday night and knew we'd have to visit the restaurant. Had an amazing brunch there today and highly recommend it as a very veggie friendly, funky eatery. The Sprout Restaurant, 364 Duckworth Street Tel: 709 579 5485. Hours: Tuesday to Friday 11:30 am - 9::00 pm, Saturday: 9:00 am - 10:00 pm, Sunday: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Friday Aug 4

Drove out of town to Cape Spear Historic Site - "The oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador is located at the most easterly point of land in Canada. It has been restored to its 1839 appearance and shows how a lightkeeper and his family might have lived in the mid-19th century." Although the weather was cool and overcast, the views were splendid and it was quite a busy spot.
Next to the Railway Coastal Museum in the beautifully restored St John's Railway station where they have a mock-up of the Newfie Bullet.
In the evening we took the bus from Memorial campus to Bannerman park where the 30th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival was being held. There was quite an assortment of musicians on the program from the very traditional Mahers Bahars (pronounced Mars Bars) to the rockin' Jason Whelan band.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"New" Tour Day 13: St John's, Newfoundland

Yesterday was a civic holiday in St John's - Regatta Day aka Regretta Day. "The Royal St John's Regatta is North America's oldest continuously held annual sporting event with documented proof of 1816 boat races. There is credible contention that St. John's regattas were held even earlier than 1816, likely in the 1700's. Held on Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John's, Newfoundland, the Regatta is scheduled for the first Wednesday of August. If weather isn't suitable, and wind conditions are very important, the event is postponed until the next suitable day. Since Regatta Day is a civic holiday in St. John's, this means that the weather actually determines whether or not workers have the day off. "
It rained all day but the Regatta prevailed. Everything was closed so we spent the day in the Memorial University Library and managed to accomplish quite a lot. In the late afternoon we ventured out in the car and drove down to the harbour and up Signal Hill which is the city's most recognizable landmark. "Because of its strategic placement overlooking the harbour, fortifications have been placed on the hill since the mid 1600's. The final battle of the Seven Years' War in North America was fought in 1762 at the Battle of Signal Hill, in which the French surrendered St. John's to the British under the command of Lt. Colonel William Amherst. Lt. Colonel Amherst renamed Signal Hill from "The Lookout", because of the flag mast signalling that took place upon it's summit. Flag communication between land and sea would take place there from the 1600's until 1960."
View source.
The 360 panoramic view, even on this overcast day, was spectacular.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"New Tour" Day 12: St John's Newfoundland

We found a club smart car card on our windshield this morning with a message from Lorne Foote who is involved in organizing the Newfoundland leg of the club's cross-Canada relay. Unfortunately, we'll be back on the mainland before their August 10th gathering. They'll be on the 1:30 am ferry from Port aux Basques, Newfoundland to North Sydney, Nova Scotia and wish wish them a safe and successful tour.
Visited the North Atlantic Aviation Museum which highlighted the critical role that the airfield at Gander played in World War II.
Stopped for lunch at Terra Nova National Park. It is difficult to describe the majesty of the landscape here & photos just don't do it justice.
Continuing our search for remnants of the "Newfie Bullet", we drop in to the lovely little station museum at Avondale. "Built by the Anglo-Newfoundland Telegraph Company, in either 1870 or 1880, the Avondale Railway Station served as a repeater station for the first telegraph land line serving St. John's. From 1900, to 1949 the structure was a freight and passenger station operated by the Reid Newfoundland Company, and was an important terminus during World War II for transporting men working at the American military bases in Argentia. Now the oldest surviving railway station in Newfoundland, from Confederation in 1949 until its closure in 1984, the Canadian National Railway used the station as a terminus for their passenger and freight service in Conception Bay. The two-storeyed structure has a mansard roof complete with arched windows."
Booked into the Curtis House residence at Memorial University for the next few nights. Much cooler weather here than in Southern Ontario and we are thankful.