Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Rich Helms' Grinch smart in the Uxbridge Santa Claus parade.
For more, including photos and instructions to make a santa hat for your car, go here.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Detroit Auto Show Preview: The Smart Cars Are Coming...Still

By Ray Wert
Despite already being the recipient of an announcement they'll be coming in 2008 (back in June) and an announcement detailing what they'll look like (back last month) -- the folks at the German-American hybrid have decided the 2006 Detroit Auto Show's the place to complete the immortal announcement trilogy of the smart brand. So we'll have -- yes -- the third announcement that smart is coming to the 'merican shores occurring here in the D in January. All we know is our excitement level's gone from a dizzying level of "meh" to a point where we're now so excited we can barely stifle our yawns. I myself am looking forward to trying to spot one driving by over the inevitable berms of snow surrounding Cobo on the first day of the show. Who am I kidding, I'll never be able to spot it.
Read more here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

South African smart

Auto Africa - Oct 26 to Nov 5 2006
South Africa's Official smart website

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mercedes Car Group Sales Increase by Five Percent in November to a Record of 110,800 Vehicles

In November, the smart brand delivered 8,900 vehicles to customers worldwide. For the period from January to November, sales amounted to 105,100 units. In view of the upcoming model changeover of the smart fortwo and the phasing out of the smart forfour, the result was in line with the expectations. Nearly all smart fortwo cars of the first generation are sold out. Deliveries for the second generation of the smart fortwo which was unveiled in November will begin in April 2007. The new model has been met with a very positive reception in the media.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chinese electric car not so smart

Posted on December 17th, 2006 by John Pospisil
They say that intellectual property laws are getting better in China, but you have to wonder when you hear stories like this one. Shandong Huoyan Electromobile, a small Chinese car maker, has been forced to halt production of its City Spirit, a tiny two-seat electric car, after DaimlerChysler threatened to take legal action because the City Spirit looked too much like its Smart car.According to a report on Autoweek, Shandong Huoyan Electromobile used a toy model of the Smart to inspire the design of the City Spirit. The cars were exactly the same length and many components, such as the grill and rear window, looked identical.
While Smart is powered by a three-cylinder petrol or diesel engine, the City Spirit was powered by a electric motor. Price was an even bigger difference, with the City Spirit costing 4200 Euros in Europe, or about about half the price of the Smart car.
Read more here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The backseat driver's guide to San Francisco

An open-top buggy with a computer for a tour guide is the best way to see San Francisco, says Matt Rudd; plus other special ways to see California’s greatest city
Sixteen miles per hour and I’m absolutely terrified. You wouldn’t think a grown man could be terrified at such low speeds, but it’s because I’m being chased up one of those Steve McQueen hills by a tram. Unlike Steve McQueen, I’m not in a Ford Mustang. If I were, it wouldn’t be a problem, would it? But instead of the Mustang, I’m in a bright yellow buggy with a top speed of 40mph. That’s 40mph if you threw it off a cliff. Top speed up a San Franciscan hill seems to be 16mph. Sorry, 15mph. No... 13, 11, 9?
The tram is filling my wing mirrors and dinging its bell. I arrived in San Francisco only yesterday, and it feels like four in the morning, I don’t know whether trams are like buses (they can stop) or trains (they can’t). So I have no option but to keep the throttle open, lean forward, partially close my eyes and pray. The brow of the hill is within sight, but it’s too close to call: bystanders on either side of the street are stopping to watch the slow-speed chase. It’s not often you get to see a tourist squashed by a tram.
Read full story here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Audi to run on bio-diesel at Le Mans

Posted Dec 17th 2006 3:32PM by Noah Joseph
Automotive enthusiasts (racing fans in particular) and environmental lobbyists don't always see eye-to-eye. Make that seldom, if ever. But greener motorsports is something over which we can definitely sit down with our compatriots at sister site AutoblogGreen. In fact, we'd go as far to say that it's the one thing that could stand to keep automobile racing relevant in the modern era, and we'll applaud any series, team or supplier that moves the cause forward.
Audi, then, is a particular favorite, for their milestone achievement of fielding the diesel-powered R10 in endurance racing series and events – and winning, sweeping the field, in fact, despite the self-imposed oil-burning handicap. But the boys at Ingolstadt aren't about the rest on their proverbial laurels, they're pushing forward, together with their sponsors over at Shell. They've announced that at next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, they'll not only be racing on diesel, they'll be racing on biodiesel! Don't expect to see Audi engineers rummaging through the trash bins behind the local greasy-spoon, though. Audi will be using a synthetic derivative of plant-based oil (though we have no idea how something synthetic can be derived from something natural) produced by a subsidiary of team sponsor Shell.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Forfour has new lease of life as a smarter hybrid

A British-built diesel-electric hybrid prototype has been shown to government ministers in London this week.
The Zytek demo vehicle, based on the Smart Forfour 1.5 CDI, meets the government's Ultra-Low Carbon Car Challenge, emitting just 85g/km of carbon dioxide, well under the ULCCC target of 100g/km, and with a combined fuel economy of around 88mpg.
Zytek has been supported by the Energy Savings Trust, part of a £5m government-funded initiative to develop low-carbon vehicles. The ULCCC criteria state that eligible cars must be production-feasible within eight years, and be priced at commercially-feasible levels, as well as retaining all the space, safety equipment and expected features of their 'normal' equivalents.
Read full article here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Spotted in England V

The Hillman Imp was a compact, rear-engined saloon (US: sedan) automobile manufactured under the Hillman marque by the Rootes Group (later Chrysler Europe) from 1963 to 1976. This one is technically a Sunbeam Imp.

The Reliant Robin (often but incorrectly known as the Robin Reliant), is a small three-wheeled car manufactured by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth, England. Being a three-wheeler, the Robin can be driven on either a motorcycle or car licence in the United Kingdom, and can be registered and insured as a motorcycle at considerable savings over a conventional car. The single wheel in the front steered, while the engine (also in the front) drove the rear axle.
The one pictured here is arguably one of the last made.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Obvio 012 - 100% Electric

Zap! is exclusive North American Distributor of this vehicle manu- factured in Brazil.
OBVIO ! fufills the needs of drivers who think ahead. The 012E model is a high performance electric microsport car with seats for three passengers. With this innovative and creative design from Brazil, you won't need gas at all. Just plug it into a conventional outlet and you're ready to go!
Electric Propulsion Drive System: 120 kW, 220 Nm, 13,000 rpm Regenerative braking
Battery: Li Ion, 39 kWh, 580 lb
Charger: Onboard, plug in anywhere, up to 20 kW
Vehicle to grid (V2G): Bi-directional grid interface

For more go to Obvio! & Zap!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Project Kimber AC Smart unveiled

We previously reported the news that UK engineering firm Project Kimber was planning to build a new version of the discontinued Smart roadster with the help of designer Gordon Murray. Project Kimber had released an earlier sketch of the car, but have now released a new sketch showing some of the changes they will make. The consortium will build the AC Smart at a site in the UK and is putting together a $65m investment to build it. It’s also made arrangements with Smart to buy the equipment made to build the original Smart roadster.
Though the AC Smart will share its underpinnings with the Smart Roadster, it will not simply be a copy with AC badges, according to What Car?. Working alongside Gordon Murray on the project is John Piper whose previous achievements include helping to build the JCB Dieselmax land speed record car, and together they’ll be honing the roadster to drive better than before.
Click here to take a look at our old story with the previous sketch.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Britain gets first on-street electric car chargers

Britain's first on-street charging points for electric cars were unveiled in central London as part of a wider bid to encourage drivers to ditch gas-guzzling vehicles.
The City of Westminster, which has the highest levels of air pollution in the kingdom, launched the power points in Wellington Street and Southampton Street in the Covent Garden entertainment district.
Electric cars are exempt from London's congestion charge, which costs drivers of other vehicles eight pounds (16 dollars, 12 euros) per day to enter the city centre.
"Putting free charging points on the street where people need them most is a simple concept which we hope will help galvanise broader appeal for electric car use," said councillor Alan Bradley.
"There have been technical hurdles to overcome, but we're confident the future lies in offering alternatives to petrol and diesel vehicles.
"Electric cars are ideally suited to city driving and we hope in years to come we will see more and more people using them to travel around the City of London.
Read more here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Popular smart car leaves competition dumbfounded

Tony Whitney, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, December 01, 2006
I recently attended the unveiling of a second-generation Smart fortwo automobile in Stuttgart. It was an automotive industry extravaganza and attracted personalities from every imaginable sphere. Apart from top executives from smart and Mercedes-Benz, luminaries included ex-Formula One champ Niki Lauda and top race-team owner and multiple Indy 500 winner (and Mercedes dealer) Roger Penske.

Read full article here.

Bologna Show: Smart Rolls Out 2007 Fortwo "Edition Limited One"

STUTTGART, Germany — Smart rolled out its 2007 Fortwo "edition limited one" at the Bologna Motor Show here on Tuesday, saying that the car demonstrates customization possibilities for the European market.The new Smart Fortwo made its worldwide debut earlier at the show. The special model is available only as a coupe with generous amounts of silver exterior trim.With the limited edition, Smart tries to inject more of a luxury feel into the little city car, with a special pyrite gray exterior, cognac-brown used-napa-leather look trim in the cabin and velour floor mats. Exterior features include a panoramic roof with a sun blind and 15-inch alloy wheels in a six-spoke design.
Read more here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Spotted in England IV

G-Wiz seen in London.

British spec fortwo in Lewes, East Sussex.

World Premiere of the New smart fortwo:

Stuttgart, Germany, November 10, 2006
The new smart fortwo has arrived: The smart fortwo coupé and smart fortwo cabrio were un-veiled to more than 550 international journalists yesterday evening in Stuttgart for the very first time. The location was unusual, but nonetheless very fitting for the smart fortwo: in the middle of the city, on the roof of a multi-storey car park.
In addition, there were presentations on comfort, agility, safety and environmental friendliness. After all, the new smart fortwo can do everything that its predecessor can do – but even better. This means that the new smart fortwo is even more comfortable, even more agile, even safer and even more environmentally friendly than its predecessor.

Read full report here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

smart fortwo Features in A Good Year

Text & Photos edited by F. de Leeuw van Weenen Source: DaimlerChrysler AG 10-26-2006 This year’s fourth big screen outing for the small city car

It played Clouseau’s cop car in “The Pink Panther,” provided Tom Hanks with a quick getaway in “The Da Vinci Code” and was a perfect vehicle for Garfield’s “owner” Jon Arbuckle in “Garfield 2”. Now the smart fortwo gets to play Cupid: the two-seater brings the lovers together in Ridley Scott’s new film “A Good Year.” Oscar-winner Russell Crowe plays a career-obsessed investment expert who rediscovers the love and simple life in Provence. “A Good Year” starts in German cinemas on November, 9th.
Life is turned on its head for Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) when he travels to France to sell a vineyard he has inherited from his great-uncle. Max’s travels through Provence in a smart fortwo mark the start of a new life. But the usually successful businessman doesn’t recognize it until much later. First he has to struggle with the navigation system and almost runs over an attractive young Frenchwoman, Fanny (played by Marion Cotillard), without noticing. But the smart fortwo brings about a reunion: Fanny recognizes the car outside the vineyard – and love gets a second chance. Then Max is offered a partnership by his boss. He has to make up his mind. Should he turn his back on the London business world?

NOTE: Author of this piece omitted Scoop starring Woody Allen, released earlier this year, in which Allen drives a smart fortwo in London.