Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Smart Fortwo: Sleigh for today

Would Santa swap his traditional vehicle for a Smart Fortwo? Only if he wanted to miss his midnight deadline...
By Michael Booth, The Independent, Published: 23 December 2007
Specifications: Would suit:Elves, Price:£8,450, Performance: 92mph, 0-60 in 13.2 secs, Combined fuel consumption: 57.7 mpg
Ho, ho, ho! Father Christmas here. What? You didn't think I still bothered with all that reindeer and sleigh stuff, did you? No, ever since the animal-rights people picketed my Lapland hideaway I've been looking for alternative transport, and when Mrs Christmas and I...
Oh, sod it. I was going to do this entire piece as Santa. You'd have laughed like drains and called all your friends to go and buy a copy, I'm sure, but there is actually far too much I want to tell you about the new Smart Fortwo,so I'll spare you.
You will remember that the original Smart City Coupé was hopelessly flawed: a brave and original concept ruined by a jackhammer ride and the most awful automatic- gear change. I recall one particularly virile, young, whip-sharp automotive wit compared the way it changed gear to a "frog on an escalator". Each shift was so jerky it is a wonder Mercedes wasn't bankrupted by whiplash claims. It also accelerated at the speed your toenails grow, turning motorways into a bit of a hair-whitening experience.
Read full story here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Closer to home....

In August of 2006 a 50 kW Faired Wind turbine began operation at the Maple Honda dealership at 89 Auto Vaughn Drive, Vaughan, Ontario. It was subsequently redesigned, to improve both efficiency and appearance, by Indigo Wind Energy Systems.
Indigo are currently working on a wind turbine for Jackson's Toyota in Barrie, Ontario.
View source.
With thanks to an anonymous tipster.

Car firm using wind for power

By Steve Larner

Friday, December 14, 2007

Canadian prices for '08 smart

Starting from $14,990 MSRP for a new 2008 smart fortwo pure coupé. (Does not include taxes, freight, PDI and administration charges.)
Go here.
Not sure what tactical_loyalty in the URL means? M-B marketing speak leaking out?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Electric smart from NASCAR country

An electric smart from Hybrid Technologies in Mooresville, North Carolina is the prize in a contest at Sam's Club.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Smart 2008 launch

To the Steam Whistle Brewing Co in Toronto for the launch of the smart fortwo 2008. A noisy party with free food and booze - an odd mixture of M-B suits, "beautiful people" and smart car customers. The loud recorded music and soul band "God made me Funky" made it difficult to converse with our smart car chums. The cars were dressed in cheap Herbie-style go-faster stripes, already cracking and peeling, a Teutonic attempt at cool. The lack of a diesel option was a turn-off although a hybrid and a diesel may be offered in Canada in some distant future.
Smart announces keen pricing for USA: The range is from $11,590 for a basic Pure to $16,590 for a Cabriolet with plenty of add-ons on offer. Here also is some ill-considered BS from US auto journalists who don't get the smart car at all. These bozos who criticise the smart for only having two seats are the same guys that drool over Corvettes and Porsches, mostly because they want to suck up to the companies making the most impractical two-seat cars on earth. They should look at the appeal of the smart in Canada, namely to empty nesters looking for both fun and practicality.
Meanwhile the court case between Daimler and ZAP in California rumbles on. RLT

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Brown Goes Green

UPS to Use ZAP Electric Car and Truck Fleet for Deliveries
PETALUMA, CA -- (November 13, 2007) -- It will be a green holiday this season for United Parcel Service (UPS), who rolled out a small parcel delivery service this week in Northern California using 42 electric cars and trucks from ZAP (OTCBB: ZAAP).
UPS rolled out an electric car and truck fleet from ZAP this week to help with small parcel deliveries in dense urban communities. The move was made to reduce fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions.
The UPS branch in Petaluma, California has leased an initial fleet of 42 ZAP Xebra® electric city cars and trucks for their small parcel deliveries. This is the first time that UPS has used electric city-speed vehicles for this purpose.
Small parcel deliveries are becoming more challenging for the trademark big, brown UPS delivery vans, which is why UPS is using the electric city cars and trucks to handle small parcel deliveries. The ZAP vehicles lessen fuel consumption and reduce automotive emissions produced by current delivery vehicles. Drivers will be monitoring their electrical usage to carefully analyze cost-savings and emissions reductions.
Read full story here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Haslem test drives the SmartCar

The Smart Fortwo is just eight feet 10 inches long but is pretty roomy, as sub-subcompact cars go. How, you ask, will it fare in the crucial professional basketball-playing segment of the American market?
Focus-group testing was performed the other day, after practice, on Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem. Haslem, who is six-foot-eight and weighs 235 pounds, usually drives a Cadillac Escalade or a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, both about 17 feet long, with specially extended seats.
This would seem to be no problem at all, since some weeks ago the Smart Car president told The New Yorker a six-foot-eight guy had fit ''beautifully'' -- as did ''a guy who weighed more than 500 pounds,'' but probably not at the same time.
Read more and see the video here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hayek angles actor Clooney for energy venture

Swatch chairman Nicolas G. Hayek says Hollywood star George Clooney will sit on the board of a new company that is to develop clean energy systems in Switzerland.
Hayek, hailed as the saviour of the Swiss watch industry in the 1980s and a driving force behind the Smart car, added that Switzerland could become the world leader in renewable energies.
In an interview in Saturday's Berner Zeitung newspaper, Hayek said that the headquarters of the new holding company – yet to be named - would be in Biel, the Bernese town where the Swatch Group has its headquarters.The tireless 79-year-old announced in August that his Swatch Group - the world leader in the watchmaking industry – and Swiss power company Groupe E would join forces to develop and produce clean, renewable energy systems. The aim is to provide people with electricity for both residential and transport purposes, offering the automobile industry know-how in "clean power" engines.Read more here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mini Cooper killer? Audi A1 Metroproject Quattro Tokyo show concept

By Rory Jurnecka - When Audi said it wanted a car to do battle with the Mini Cooper in the subcompact category, we got excited. Word on the street was that an A1 entry-level model would be built and entered in the low-to-mid $20,000 segment in the U.S., offering a real alternative for enthusiasts looking for a small, sporty Audi that's also easy on the bank account. When we heard this car might be coming to Tokyo later this month, we couldn't wait to see it.
Now, ahead of Tokyo, the wait is over. Images and details of Audi's newest concept are out. Labeled the Audi A1 Metroproject Quattro concept, the vehicle is a three-door, four-seat hatch with an outwardly aggressive attitude and stance. Audi's bold, deep front grille is present along with glaring, narrow-eyed headlamps and deep lower air intakes. Aluminum accent trim adorns the pillars and roofline of the car and the coupe-like profile is neat and tidy. At the rear, two largish exhaust tips slot through the rear valance and a subtle roof spoiler is fitted.
Read full article here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fiat, Daimler launch plagiarism complaints vs Chinese carmakers - report

BERLIN Thomson Financial - Fiat and Daimler have lodged plagiarism complaints against Chinese carmakers before Chinese and European courts, according to a report in Automotive News Europe magazine.
German carmaker Daimler has launched legal proceedings to block the sale of the Noble (nyse: NE - news - people ), manufactured by the Shuanghuan group, according to the magazine.
The Nobel is very reminiscent of Daimler's Smart Fortwo. The Shuanghuan group decided not to show the car in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the world's biggest car show, because Daimler threatened to lodge a complaint.
Italian manufacturer Fiat (nyse: FIA - news - people ) has has lodged complaints in Italy and China to prevent the sale of Great Wall Motors group's Peri, which could be mistaken for its Panda, reported Automotive News Europe.
'We are waiting for the first announcements in China in December and in Turin for Europe towards the end of January,' Fiat legal advisor Monica Norgi told the magazine.
Great Wall Motor's Italian importer, Eurasia Motors, has delayed the introduction of the Peri until a decision has been made.

View source.

Smarten up your act

Small, fuel-efficient vehicles are the way of the future for car travel.
Rock stars performing at the recent Live Earth concerts got to the international stadiums in Smart cars (except for one Wolfmother member who reportedly caught the train).
Some of the giants of the music industry said no to limousines and yes to car-pooling in the pint-sized fuel-efficient vehicles that have among the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any car on the road.
“The environment, carbon emissions and global warming are becoming bigger and bigger issues,” says Zac Loo, head of Smart cars in Australia, which is part of DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes Benz division.
“Smart cars are the cars of the future. They tie in with people’s response to their carbon footprint. More and more people are trying to reduce it.
“CityLink has anecdotal evidence which shows that most people have one person in their car most of the time, so why do you need four seats in your car if 90 per cent of the time you use only one?
Read full article here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rethinking Transportation

Friday, October 12, 2007 BY ISOLDE RAFTERY, Columbian staff writer
Mike Briggs and T.J. Prendergast are Clark County kids, pickup truck drivers who spend between a quarter and a half of their money on driving.
Not that they have a choice: Both are students at Washington State University Vancouver but live out in the county. So they fork over $240 to $290 in parking a year, and another $160 a month on gas and insurance.
They earned most of their keep last summer, all the while leafing through "Asphalt Nation," a book about America's dependence on highways and driving. They shrug their shoulders when it comes to what they could do - taking the bus is out of the question, they said, and would take hours compared to the 10-minute drive from home.
"If you live in Portland or Vancouver or Seattle, there are systems for getting around," Prendergast said. "Even 10 miles out, there are buses, but it's not the greatest. You have to go the opposite direction to get to where you need."
WSUV's freshman class was assigned "Asphalt Nation," by Jane Kay Holtz, before starting school this year. The book is part of WSUV's emphasis on rethinking ways to commute in the name of a greener Earth.
Read full story here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

2007 Tokyo Auto Show Preview: Mazda Taiki

HIROSHIMA, Japan — The Mazda Taiki is so, well, Japanese. What other concept vehicle in recent memory has been inspired by koinobori— literally, "climbing carp streamers"? The latest, and perhaps wildest, Mazda concept vehicle yet will be formally unveiled in late October at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show. Ford's Japanese subsidiary says it "reflects one possible direction for a future generation of Mazda sports cars aimed at helping create a sustainable society." The fourth and latest iteration in the company's ongoing Nagare design series, the Taiki borrows its name from the Japanese word for "atmosphere." The design intent was to create the visual impression of air flowing through a tube. The two-seater concept is a stretched coupe on a front-engine/rear-drive chassis configuration, with short overhangs and an all-glass canopy. Power is supplied by a next-generation rotary engine.
What this means to you: As if the "carp streamers" theme weren't enough to pique your Western curiosity, Mazda also claims the Taiki's design was inspired by hagorom — "the flowing robes that enable a celestial maiden to fly in Japanese legend."

View source and more pictures.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Some days you get the bear

Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you. To the smart Mississauga annual meet at Hilton Falls - the usual affable affair of some fifty smart car owners run by our favourite salesmen Justin and Ed. Turns out it was something of a wake for the diesel smart. Some agile punters had snapped up a diesel version before they were all gone.
For now we are on hiatus until early '08 when it is the new gas engined car or nothing. The US market is calling the shots from now on. They are getting the new model ahead of Canada and dictating the marketing approach. Existing Canadian customers were lamenting the end of the diesel era but it seems the smart pioneers no longer count for much.
Marketing folk are always making incomprehensible decisions. Ford have just dropped the Focus wagon, for example. Why do they mess with a winning formula? Why do they give their existing customers a reason to switch? RLT

Business smarts 26: The Wee Scottish Shop

Angie Evans with her Wee Scottish Shop smartcar with tartan tridion. Located in the New Fergus Marketplace, 105 Queen St. W. Unit #7, the Wee Scottish Shop is open Saturday to Thursday from 10 to 5 and Fridays from 10 to 8. They stock all manner of Scottish goods from custom kilts to imported chocolates and yes they have haggis.
See their website for more - http://www.theweescottishshop.com/default.aspx

Saturday, September 29, 2007

UK survey says screw hybrids if you want a green car

How many top ten lists of green cars to you know of that don't include the Toyota Prius? A new survey by Cardiff University and UK automotive consultancy Clifford Thames has come to the conclusion that the poster car for the environmental driver is actually only the 12th greenest vehicle. Number one? The discontinued Smart Roadster. And the Smart Fortwo Cabriolet comes in second. Or, as Car magazine put it: "A new report today exposes the real green cars - and there's not a hybrid in sight in the top 10." The Financial Times has also written about this story, but it's behind a subscription wall. So, what is this list and how did it come into being? Vehicles were given points depending on emissions/pollutants (half the total) and the "vehicles' construction, energy costs, recyclability and size," according to Car. I'll guess that that construction factor is the key in the Prius faring so poorly, compared to expectations. Let's hope this doesn't revive that CNW Prius vs. Hummer "report" again.

Top Green cars, as calculated by Cardiff University and UK automotive consultancy Clifford Thames:
1st Smart Roadster - 66.2 points
2nd Smart Fortwo Cabriolet - 59.8
3rd Citroen C1 1.0 - 40.1
4th Peugeot 107 1.0 - 38.6
5th Citroen C1 1.4 HDI - 31.3
6th Fiat Panda 1.2 Dualogic - 28.4
7th Ford Ka 1.3 - 27.5
8th Toyota Yaris 1.0 - 27.2
9th Fiat Panda 100hp - 23.6
10th Pegueot 206 1.4 - 23.5
11th Mini Cooper D - 23.3
12th Toyota Prius 1.5 - 23.2

View source.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mercedes-Benz introduces the DiesOtto - German for HCCI

The very first practical automobile was the 1886 Benz Motorwagen created in Stuttgart by Karl Benz. That first car was powered by a small gasoline fueled engine that ran on a four-stroke cycle developed by fellow German Karl Otto. Later another German, Rudolph Diesel, developed the compression ignition engine that would end up carrying his name and the company that evolved from the work of Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler would be the first to use the type in production in the 1920s. Now in 2007 Mercedes-Benz is working on bringing the two staple four-stroke engine types of the twentieth century together under the name DiesOtto combining the aspects of the Diesel and Otto cycles. The Mercedes engineers have created a 1.8L gasoline fueled four-cylinder that gets the fuel economy of a diesel. The engine puts out 238hp and 295lb-ft of torque and a mild hybrid system gets better than 39mpg in a vehicle the size of an S-Class. The use of direct injection, variable valve control, turbocharging, have allowed them to create a combination HCCI engine and standard gas engine that operates in compression ignition mode under light loads and spark ignition at other times. This allows it to operate with only a standard three-way-catalyst rather than the expensive diesel after-treatment systems. Now they just need to get it into series production.
Read full article here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Stunt bike riders are playing a deadly game of chicken with motorists in Torquay which could end in tragedy, a victim has warned.Torbay councillor Nicole Amil escaped unhurt when she slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a hooded cyclist who deliberately rode right at her as she drove along the Newton Road just past Torre Station on Monday afternoon.But her Smart car did suffer as the vehicle behind, with two children inside, shunted into her, causing hundreds of pounds damage.She said after her ordeal: "I had earlier been caught up in traffic for more than an hour after the fatal road accident at Churston. This could have been another one."She added: "I've seen this done before. It's done for kicks - for a dare. If this problem is not highlighted these daredevils will continue and somebody could be killed."Police and paramedics attended the scene of the incident where the two youngsters were checked over.Nicole said: "They could have suffered serious injury with the sudden jerk caused by the impact of the collision."The cyclist was laughing as he did this silly stunt. He just rode off, thinking it was fun."She revealed how she was driving towards the Shiphay junction traffic lights at 3pm when the cyclist, riding on the other side of the road, suddenly crossed the road and headed towards her.She said: "I just hit the brakes. He was so close to the bumper of my car. He then rode off."The car behind was in collision with me and the car behind it had to take avoiding action. I was very lucky, although I was in shock," said Nicole, who is the Goodrington with Roselands ward councillor and former.Police carried out a search of the area, but found no trace of the offender who was believed to be in his teens.Anyone with information should contact police on 08452 777444, quoting log 812 of September 24.
View source.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Volkswagen Up! Concept Revealed

The up! is a city specialist, a car for four persons and all languages, for the job, the university, the drive to the beach and the excursion outside the city gates. A small car that shows a lot of size, because it offers more space than any other car of similar length (3.45 meters) and width (1.63 meters). Its engine – conceivable here are all facets of technology that can be sensibly applied – will run in the rear. And that changes everything: Space, mood and design.Walter de Silva, Chief Designer of the Volkswagen group, sums it up like this: “The up! is not a car whose form will become obsolete within a very brief period of time. It shines in its cleverness and yet is made with loving care. And so the up! is a clear and strong statement for future Volkswagen design.” Furthermore, the team of designers and engineers has envisioned the up! concept car as the first member of an entire model line; other facets are entirely conceivable.

For more pictures and full article go here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


When the next Smart arrives here this fall, it will be offered only with a gasoline engine – not the 800 cc, three-cylinder turbodiesel that propels current models.
The gas version won't be as fuel-efficient as the diesel.
But a variant l set to bow in Europe early next year addresses that issue, while maintaining the new Smart's performance, its maker says.
Called the MHD, for Micro Hybrid Drive, the Euro-buggy will feature a belt-driven starter-generator like that used in GM's Saturn Vue and Aura hybrids.
It will also boast stop-start technology that shuts off the engine when the minicar comes to a halt.
Rated at 71 hp, the MHD is said to improve fuel consumption to 4.3 L/100 km (combined, on the European test cycle), which is marginally better than the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius.
Sounds like something more than a few North Americans would be interested in if the tiny variant ever arrives here.
By Gerry Molloy - Special to the Toronto Star

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Smart car pool to boost affordable eco-transport

Shared ownership residents at a landmark city centre development are to be given the use of eco-friendly Smart cars. The four vehicles will be available to all residents of the 182-apartment Brindley House scheme, in Birmingham, to help them combat the problems of parking and keep vehicle emissions down. The scheme, a £37 million transformation of a 15-storey 1970s tower block in Newhall Street, once dubbed one of the ugliest buildings in the city, includes 38 homes for shared ownership, to help local people get on the property ladder. The one and two-bedroom properties were acquired by Harden Housing Association, part of the West Mercia Housing Group, from MCD Developments Ltd and qualifying purchasers can start by buying as little as a 40 per cent share in their home. The car pool, which will be available from when the first residents move in early next year, is the first of its kind in Birmingham and one of only a handful in the UK. Rachael Matthews, aged 28, who has signed up for one of the apartments through the HomeBuy scheme with partner Andrew Bradley, 27, said: “I think the car pool is a fantastic idea and is another reason why we wanted to move here. “You do notice the congestion and pollution being in the city centre and this sort of things makes you feel like you are doing your bit.” Smart cars have been proven to have lower carbon dioxide emissions than most other models of vehicles.
Read full story here.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Frankfurt Preview: Citroën C-Cactus Concept

Posted Sep 3rd 2007 6:31PM by Alex Nunez

Citroën can always be counted upon to show off interesting concept cars at the major European automobile shows, and when the IAA in Frankfurt kicks off in the coming days, the French marque will live up to those expectations. We've already seen the attractive, open-topped C5 Airscape, and the second Frankfurt show car is the green-minded C-Cactus concept. Named after the desert-dwelling plants that survive while consuming very little, the C-Cactus is a green concept that minimizes both the amount of materials that go into its construction and the amount of fuel it needs to operate. The latter half of that equation comes from its hybrid HDi diesel-electric powertrain equipped with a ZEV mode. Like sister company's Peugeot 308 Hybride HDi, the C-Cactus also delivers 70 mpg in the combined cycle, and it actually beats the Peugeot show car's C02 output, emitting a paltry 78 g/km. But the car's ecological approach doesn't end there.

Read full article here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

It’s Electric: the CityEl Trike

Looking like a prop from a campy science fiction movie – where everyone wears pastel-colored jumpsuits, and every computer looks like an 8-track player mated to a Lite Brite – the CityEl city car somehow can’t help but make you smile. At the very least, it will cause most people to grab their camera and start snapping photos. It certainly had that effect on me when I happened upon one on the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Compared to many other European cities that face ever increasing traffic and congestion problems, the City of Copenhagen has recorded a measurable decrease in automobiles in the city center since 2003. Copenhagen prides itself for having safe, wide, and very well marked bicycle lanes. It seems to be one of the few cities where bicycle rental locations outnumber Starbucks. Copenhagen also boasts an extensive train, subway, and bus system.
In these green-thinking urban surroundings, it should come as no surprise to stumble upon a car like the CityEl. This three-wheeled, single-seat and electric-powered oddity began life in Denmark. Produced from 1989 to 1995, it was initially labeled the MiniEl. The car I came across happens to be from this original run of cars. Production has since moved to Kitzingen, Germany, where the outwardly identical CityEl is manufactured at a rate of 150-200 per year. In total, over 5,500 MiniEl and CityEl trikes have been sold since 1989.
Read full story here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

smart Canada delivers its 10,000th smart fortwo

- More than a three fold increase in planned volume over a three year period - New generation smart scheduled to arrive in November

TORONTO, Aug. 27 /CNW/ - The smart division of Mercedes-Benz Canada delivered its 10,000th smart fortwo to Mr. Bryan Moul of Vancouver, British Columbia. This important milestone happened two months before smart's 3rd anniversary in Canada. Mr. Moul is 46, married, a father of two adult children and an Associate Partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers; he uses his smart fortwo for his 45 to 60 minute daily commute from North Delta to Vancouver, British Columbia. He said, "This is the first new car I have ever bought. I wasn't expecting the smart fortwo to attract this much attention - everywhere I go, people want to look inside and ask all kinds of questions. Earlier today, two ladies stopped me outside a coffee shop; they wanted to look in the back to see if their golf clubs would fit, one of the women actually climbed into the driver's seat!"

Read full press release here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

As cars get smaller, their sales get bigger

Buyers weigh their savings, safety
As a mobile yoga teacher, Jodi Boone could spend her days searching for parking in one densely populated neighborhood after another.
But with her neon blue Chevrolet Aveo, she snaps up the tiny spots that most drivers just give up on.
Good gas mileage and convenience while driving in the city factored into her decision to buy the little hatchback last year. Above all, she needed a low price.
"It felt like an affordable alternative -- the poor person's Prius," said Boone, who paid about $10,000 for her Aveo last year.
She's not alone.

For buyers gravitating toward some of the tiniest cars on the U.S. market, fuel economy is part of the equation, but people are just as likely to be swayed by price or the growing cachet of small cars, experts say. However, small-car drivers also are more likely to die on the road, as minicars offer varying degrees of safety protection, experts say.

Read full story here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Swatch Chief Wants Green Fuel

ZURICH - The man behind the micro-sized Smart car, the head of Swiss watch group Swatch, wants to develop a fuel cell engine for an affordable "green" vehicle, a company spokeswoman said Friday.
The spokeswoman confirmed a report in Swiss magazine Hebdo, which reported Swatch chairman Nicolas G. Hayek as saying: "I want to do everything within my powers to accelerate the development of alternative and renewable energy. In Switzerland, like elsewhere in the world, we are going far too slowly."
The spokeswoman said it was a personal project of Hayek's, who is in his late seventies.The engine is aimed at harnessing hydrogen fuel cell technology to produce non-polluting propulsion.The Hayek-backed project intends to begin industrial production and marketing of the new engine to carmakers in 2010, the magazine said.
View source.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Devil's in detail for Rev Gary

By Laura Sharpe
It's a case of better the devil you know for a clergyman with a daring taste in car number plates. The Rev Gary Gotham, from Stockport, bought the registration R666 REV for his sporty Smart Car. And the number signifies the devil, according to the Bible.Gary, who preaches at the United Reformed Church in Hazel Grove and Great Moor, has played a part in Stockport's bumper sales in personalised plates which has put the town ahead of sales compared to other parts of Greater Manchester. In fact there is a growing trend nationally for the specialised plates.Gary bought the cheapest registration going at the time - 666 REV - for £250 and his somewhat unusual choice has made him a local celebrity.He said: "I had a rummage on the DVLA website and found a string of plates with 666 which people didn't want because of superstition, but I thought it would be quite apt in my line of work. "I thought it would be different and I think I'm on the right side and I've got nothing to be afraid of. "He added: "Often the church gets a bad press so it's good for people to see the clergy has a sense of humour too. "I'm just a human being like everybody else."
Source: Manchester Evening News

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tiny Mitsu makes a big impression

Mitsubishi's i feels much larger than it is and gets lots of pep from its 659-cc engine
DAVID BOOTH, CanWest News Service

There was none of the expected drama. I had no trouble holding 140 kilometres per hour. Nor was there any trouble keeping up with normal traffic in town.
Oh, sure, passing long semis took planning, but with just a little less performance than Toyota's Yaris, the tiny four-door had enough pep to at least keep from getting run over. Normally, Mitsubishi Canada might be upset at such faint praise. But, considering I'm talking about the company's tiny i, powered by a 660-cubic-centimetre (actually 659 cc - when it's this small, every cc matters) engine, being able to keep up with traffic is more than to be expected. In fact, the Mitsubishi kei (Japan's ultra-compact segment of cars designed for Tokyo's choking traffic) is governed for that top speed of 140 km/h. Given its head, the high-revving (and turbocharged) little three-banger would accelerate all the way to, okay, maybe 10 km/h more. Still, that's miles ahead of the Smart car the i so resembles.
Read full article here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mercedes may sue over Chinese SMART clone

If you took a quick look at the pic above, would you be able to tell which one is the Smart ForTwo from Mercedes-Benz and which is the Shuanghuan Noble? Mercedes is apparently concerned enough about that question that it may be filing a lawsuit over the issue. Automotive News is reporting that Benz may be working to block European sales of this Chinese microcar because of how similar it is to the Smart ForTwo (right).The Shuanghuan Noble (left) is set to debut next month at the IAA in Frankfurt. While there's no doubt they are very similar, it should be noted that the Noble is a four seater and that it will sell for a paltry 7,000 euros in Germany, making it the cheapest car on that market there. The Managing Director of China Automobile Deutschland, Klaus Schlössl, said, "If I were the auto manufacturer I would not make such a big deal out of it. The cars are priced differently and are in a different class in terms of quality. There are many cars on the road today that look similar to each other," he added. We suspect Mercedes sees it a little differently. Source:autoblog.com

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The "street smart" Road Show

The "street smart" road show is underway! smart USA is taking the smart fortwo on a 50+ city cross-country tour so that enthusiasts like you can see it, touch it and drive it! Click here to see our tour map, updated daily!
In each city we visit, we will be seen at the most exciting events -- a concert, festival, sporting event or anything in between. When we stop in your city, you will have the chance to interact with smart USA team members and test drive the new smart fortwo (European models). It will truly be an exciting chance to get up close and personal with this amazing car. Please note, you must be 18 to drive and 14 to ride.
As we anticipate the arrival of the new smart fortwo in the United States, come hear what European smart enthusiasts are saying about their new smart fortwo in their European road show called the "smart-and-the-city tour."
Join in the excitement as the smart fortwo makes waves wherever it goes!
Remaining tour dates: Princeton Aug 23-25, Philadelphia Sept 1-2 , Seattle Sept 1-3, Winston-Salem Aug 31-Sept 2, Charlotte Sept 21-23, Portland Sept 8-9, Birmingham Sept 7-9, Charleston Sept 28-30, Knoxville Sept 14-16, Atlanta Oct 5-7, Nashville Sept 21-23, Jacksonville Oct 12-14, Louisville Sept 28-29, Orlando Oct 19-21,St. Louis Oct 3, Tampa Oct 27-28, Kansas City Oct 7-8, Miami Nov 2-4, Tulsa Oct 13-14,Dallas Oct 20-21, & Austin Oct 27-28.
USA smart home

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Impark adapts to urban need to go green

Canada's largest parking company plans to keep its spot in an energy-saving, commuter-driven future
Bruce Constantineau, Vancouver SunPublished: Monday, August 13, 2007

Herb Anderson knows the Big Yellow Taxi lyric only too well -- they paved paradise to put up a parking lot. But the chief executive of Vancouver-based Impark insists parking does not have to symbolize urban blight.
"If the market controls things, then parking spaces close to destination points will cost more and that will push more people onto public transit," Anderson said in an interview, citing U.S. parking expert Donald Shoup's recent book on the subject.
He also noted Canada's largest parking company has become more environmentally responsible in recent years -- with 13 of 80 company vehicles being fuel-efficient Smart Cars, tickets printed on recycled paper with soy ink and $12,000 spent on carbon offsets from Tree Canada that will result in at least 2,500 trees planted across Canada this year.

Full story here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Car fire causes M6 delays

A car on fire on an M6 sliproad led to long rush-hour delays in Lancashire.
The Smart car caught fire close to the junction 31a exit at Fulwood, Preston, shortly after 5.30pm on Thursday.
One lane of the southbound carriageway was closed.
Crews from Preston and Fulwood fire stations were called to attend the incident, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in the engine.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mercedes-Benz Posts Record Sales in First Seven Months of 2007

Stuttgart, Germany, August 03, 2007
With deliveries of 103,700 passenger vehicles in July, the Mercedes Car Group has slightly increased its sales result compared to the same month last year (102,300 units). Since the beginning of the year, 721,400 units of the Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, and smart brands have been sold all over the world (January-July 2006: 729,600 units). Sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles rose slightly in July 2007 to 93,800 units (July 2006: 92,700 units). Deliveries of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles rose to 669,500 units from January through July, setting a new record (January-July 2006: 658,000).

The smart fortwo, which was launched on the market in late March 2007, continues to be very well received by customers. In July 2007, 9,800 units of the new model were sold — double the figure for July 2006 (4,700 units). In spite of focusing the overall model range on just the smart fortwo, sales of smart brand vehicles in July totaled 9,900, three percent above the previous year (July 2006: 9,600).

Saturday, August 04, 2007

NC Tour - Day 12, Fri 3 Aug, 2007: Toronto, ON

Down to the foyer for coffee and to check on the smart. Pick up a copy of the Buffalo News. Back track into Salamanca to find the road north. Last lap and after two days of hard pounding we are glad of a short sector. We pass close to the city centre of Buffalo heading for the Peace Bridge. Very rapid passage through customs and we're on the QEW stopping at Tim Horton's in Burlington. We are limping by now and take the Lakeshore, glad to be back home after a gruelling three day journey from North Carolina.

Peace Bridge, Buffalo, NY to Fort Erie, ON.

"The Peace Bridge was completed and officially opened to traffic in June 1927. Its name came from the commemoration of more than 100 years of peace between the United States and Canada. " Source: peacebridge.com

NC Tour - Day 11, Thurs 2 Aug, 2007: Salamanca, NY

Up early in Bolivar in West Virginia, formerly Mud Fort, named for Simon Bolivar "the South American George Washington." The town is suffering from ghost town syndrome although has a pleasant main street. We head for nearby Harper's Ferry to beat the crowds. The town is in a National Park and we take the shuttle bus down to the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. This is a flying visit but there is time to view the railroad station which still has trains to Washington D.C. The station is locked but with lights blazing inside, one of many examples of gross wastage of energy witnessed in the U.S.
"The history of Harpers Ferry has few parallels in the American drama. It is more than one event, one date, or one individual. It is multi-layered – involving a diverse number of people and events that influenced the course of our nation's history. Harpers Ferry witnessed the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown's attack on slavery, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States." Source: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia.
We continue on cross-country to Gettysburg, PA, a national shrine which was heaving with visitors. We cannot take too much of this so we get the hammer down heading west on the Lincoln Highway. We take lunch at Bob Evans at Breezewood, PA, and stay on Hwy 30 to avoid the toll. We turn north on I99, taking Highways 22 and 219 to reach Salamanca, NY by 20:30. The guy at the desk in the Holiday Inn Express is anxious for us to visit the nearby Seneca Casino, shuttle bus or courtesy car no problem. Fat chance after driving 360 miles through West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.

Friday, August 03, 2007

NC Tour - Day 10, Wed 1 Aug, 2007: Bolivar, WV

By the time we stopped at the Comfort Inn in Bolivar, West Virginia, hubby had driven 642 km or 400 miles from Kill Devil Hills, NC, through the state of Virginia. We looked for evidence of the old Moyock speedway, a defunct racetrack from the sixties, as we came off the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The earlier part of the day was spent on the Interstate by-passing Richmond, VA. The drive was not without incident. We got held up in traffic, after stopping for diesel, when a drawbridge over the Albemarle & Chesapeake canal was open. It must be a regular occurrence as the sign outside the Dairy Queen reads, "Stuck at bridge? Come grab a treat from the DQ fridge." We wrong slot at Falmouth and drive cross country to Morrisville where, without hesitation, we duck into M & P Pizza for the $5.50 US lunch special - sandwich on a kaiser, fries and drink. Top place.
After a much needed nap at the hotel, we head up the hill to the Anvil Restaurant for dinner.

NC Tour - Day 9, Tues 31 July, 2007: Kill Devil Hills, NC

It's Hubby's birthday and he awakes early, at the Comfort Inn, Morehead City, to find that our smart car's rear driver's side tire is flat. We call the 1 800 number on our CAA card and the operator couldn't have been more professional and helpful. Within the hour, Phil from Wrance Wreckers in Newport arrived with his impressive flat-bed truck and didn't waste any time getting us, and our car, to Colony Tire at 3905 Arendell Street. By 8:55, and after a charge of only $20 US, we were on our way to Cedar Island for the noon ferry.
We enjoy chatting with some bikers from Long Island, New York during the two hour & ten minute ferry ride from Cedar Island to Ocracoke [$15]. We are intrigued by two vintage Winnebago RVs from the early seventies. After another free ferry and a birthday pitstop at the DQ, we drive along the Outer Banks to Tracy's home in Kill Devil Hills. We feel like we've stepped into another world. The landscape and architecture are like no other place we've been.
After a tasty pasta dinner with Tracy & Dave, we drive to Manteo to see a performance of The Lost Colony, now in its 70th season. We check in at the UPS depot, where Dave works, on the way.
"North Carolina's Paul Green penned the production, which was a unique combination of drama, song, and dance, while Roanoke Islanders set to work building the magnificent Waterside Theatre on the very spot where the colonists settled. On July 4, 1937, The Lost Colony opened to a packed house, despite the economic hardship of the Great Depression.
The show was intended to run only through the end of that summer. But when Franklin D. Roosevelt attended on August 18, 1937, the nation's eyes were fixed on the production, assuring that there would be subsequent seasons."
The Lost Colony is more than just a visual feast - it ensures that the story of the 16th Century colony on Roanoke Island is not forgotten.

NC Tour - Day 8, Mon 30 July, 2007: Morehead City, NC

We stop for a photo op at North Carolina Speedway, former Nextel Cup oval, & Rockingham Dragway and find a great little spot for lunch. At the Uptown Cafe, 118 Hancock St, Rockingham we chat to Officer LaFave originally from Ogdensburg, NY, who admired the smart car.
We also stop to take pictures of the shuttered Winn-Dixie store and the Piggly Wiggly before leaving town. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DeCamillo is a favourite novel I like to read to my students. Groups of inmates are working along the highway picking up litter under the watchful eye of guards with rifles.
At Beaufort, I'm thrilled to see that the North Carolina Maritime Museum has constructed a replica carriage for the Fuller four-pounder cannon reclaimed from the wreckage of Blackbeard's flagship, The Queen Anne's Revenge. (You may have read that my interest in this 18th century gun prompted this trip.)

NC Tour - Day 7, Sun 29 July, 2007: Kannapolis, NC

I attend the 11 am service at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church with Bruce & Linda and am warmly welcomed by members of the congregation and the Reverend Brenda Newman. The Youth Mission Trip Presentation was interesting and heartwarming.
Lunch at Amy & Rodney Bowlin's lovely home was delicious and we enjoyed getting to know them both more. Their cat Zippy didn't come out to see us but Precious lived up to her name and was quite entertaining. We watch Tony Stewart win the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on TV.
We are extremely grateful to the Clanton's for their very kind hospitality.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

NC Tour - Day 6, Sat 28 July: Kannapolis, NC

Our first stop is the Center Grove Lutheran Cemetery to see the grave of Ralph Lee Earnhardt, Dale Senior's father, who hubby met in 1972, a year before Earnhardt's death.
Next stop is Lowe's Motor Speedway (formerly Charlotte Motor Speedway) where we get tickets for the 1:30 tour. We have lunch at the Texas Roadhouse nearby where they live up to the saying, "everything's bigger in Texas" with their generous portions. Willie Nelson and George Jones are playing it one more time.
We tour the Speedway in a Chevy van driven by our enthusiastic guide Frances. She yells "boogity, boogity, boogity" as we tackle the turns at 90 mph.
"Feel The Thrill Tour includes a close-up look at areas that are off-limits on race days. Visit the NEXTEL Cup garage, travel down pit road and take a picture in Victory Circle. The highlight of this half-hour tour is a comfortable van ride around the superspeedway where you will feel the full-tilt force of the 24-degree banking. Feel The Thrill Tours are available on non-event days Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and Sunday 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m."
In the evening we meet many of Bruce and Linda's family and friends at her birthday dinner held at Costello's Pizza and Pasta. A good time was had by all.

NC Tour - Day 5, Fri 27 July, 2007: Kannapolis, NC

We get caught in traffic as they're blasting rock on the highway out of Blowing Rock NC. When we stop at the post office in Scotts, NC, to get stamps for postcards, Terry Martin, the clerk, comes out to look at the smart car and we answer his questions. Scotts has that certain southern charm, no more than a whistle-stop on the rusty railroad tracks. Bruce and Linda Clanton warmly welcome us to their lovely home in Kannapolis, NC. We sample southern cooking for lunch at the Townhouse II - the fried okra and crowder peas are very tasty.
North Carolina is the centre of the NASCAR universe and we visit the Hendrick Motorsports Museum in Concord and DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated) in Mooresville. There are several custom cars parked outside DEI, which had been through a tumultuous week after a merger with nearby Ginn Racing. DEI is a shrine to Dale Earnhardt Senior who has the status of an Elvis Presley in these parts.
Kannapolis was once home of the world famous Cannon (and later Fieldcrest-Cannon) Mills. We watch an interesting film and view exhibits on the subject at the Cannon Village Visitor's Centre which was once the Swanee Theatre. The Centre is also home to the The Dale Earnhardt Tribute Center by Sam Bass.
Kannapolis (kənăp'əlĭs) , city (1990 pop. 29,696), Cabarrus and Rowan counties, W central N.C.; founded 1906, inc. 1984. It began as a planned company town and was owned by Cannon Mills (later part of Pillowtex, which went into bankruptcy), known for its production of household linens and textiles. Source: answers.com
We pay our respects to the Intimidator at Dale Earnhardt Plaza.

NC Tour - Day 4, Thurs 26 July, 2007: Blowing Rock, NC

Getting on the road early has its advantages. We see groundhogs, skunks, wild turkeys and 25 white tailed deer before breakfast. We stop to take photos of the historic Brinegar Cabin, in the quiet of the mountains, before breakfast at Doughton Park, where we get our first taste of grits. We meet a guy who's brother has land in Cochrane, ON, where my aunt lives. Some bikers from Quebec arrive. Small world.
Our timing is perfect when we park at the North Wilkesboro Speedway which has been closed since 1996. Caretaker Paul Call, who has been connected to the track for decades, kindly opens the gates to let us look around. He chats with hubby while I make friends with his pug dog Belle and take lots of photos. Grass is growing up through the track but the atmosphere persists with authentic NASCAR Winston Cup signs here in the heart of moonshine country.
In Blowing Rock, NC, we have lunch at Knight's on Main - black eyed peas, collard greens with vinegar and sweet potatoes for me. The food and service were great. At the Marian & Robert Hayes Performing Arts Centre we catch the 2 o'clock matinee show about the musical Carter Family - Keep on the Sunnyside. Both the theatre facility and performance were exceptional.
We check into the Boxwood Lodge where we got a friendly welcome and I walk down Main Street looking for signs of Mitford, the fictional town made famous by Jan Karon in her books based on life in town. Blowing Rock is more like Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, or Lake Placid, NY, than Mitford - far more touristy than local. Many of the shops have signs outside saying -No food, No drinks, No strollers, No unsupervised children etc. It sure didn't encourage me to go in and browse. I ventured into the only bookstore I saw and bought a copy of Karon's Mitford Snowmen and the service was indifferent. There are plenty of small towns in the south that are more like the home of Karon's well loved characters.

NC Tour - Day 3, Wed 25 July, 2007: Big Meadows, VA, to Meadows of Dan, VA

We get on the road early and stop for breakfast at Loft Mountain. No grits on the menu yet. In Waynesboro, we stop for gas and use the internet at the public library. As always the smart draws some interesting comments. An old timer tells hubby: "You got a bunch of limey accents." At Kroger's supermarket we buy sandwiches and snacks for a quick lunch then head out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. We cannot find a postcard with the name Waynesboro on it.
"The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles (755 km) through the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. Land on either side of the road is maintained by the National Park Service. It is the longest, narrowest National Park in the world and is the most visited unit in the United States National Park System. In many places, the park is bordered by land protected by the United States Forest Service." Source: answers.com
At Meadows of Dan, VA, we check into the Blue Ridge Motel, at 2295 Jeb Stuart Highway, just off the parkway, billed as with TV and carpet for $60. The motel restaurant has long been closed so we head up the road to Mountain House Country Buffet. I enjoy a salad, main course of macaroni cheese, veggies etc and dessert. Three courses all for $5.25 - the dinner bargain of the trip. The waitress says, "You're driving that little red car out there aren't you? I had you pegged. They're all asking about it." We top up with diesel at the Poor Boys country store opposite, while chatting to a guy with a Lincoln Continental. We really are in the south now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NC Tour - Day 2, Tues 24 July, 2007: Dubois, PA

After free breakfast at the hotel, we head down I80 and enter the "Chesapeake Bay Watershed". We pass through the villages of Cessna and Bald Eagle, speculating about the origins of their names. The Pennsylvania Turnpike costs us $1.25 as we travel between Bedford and Breezewood. The Truckstop in Breezewood is heaving and everything that is glorious about a road trip. In quick succession we cross the Mason-Dixon Line into Maryland and the Potomac River into West Virginia. At Berkeley Springs we stop for tourist information and take pictures of the 'Roman' Bathhouse. We opt for the lunch special of half sandwich, cup of soup and iced tea for $4.99 each at the Fairfax Coffee House. We travel through Virginia on the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Highway and stop at the Visitor Centre in an old railway station at Front Royal. There were five passenger trains a day from here to Washington D.C. up until the fifties. The staff are very helpful and curious about the car.
We wrong slotted on the road to Luray after the stop in Front Royal. Marvelous old high-level steel railroad bridges. We back track and finally found the mountain road heading up onto the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. We spot a Turkey Vulture circling above the road, a black bear foraging by the roadside, and five white tailed deer. Overnight at Big Meadows Lodge built in 1939 with stones cut from Massanutten Mountain. The lodge is run by Aramark Harrison Lodging and our CAA card gets us another discount on a room free from television and telephone. We listen to "upmarket Karaoke" in the Tap Room while drinking green tea, after dinner in the restaurant upstairs. Highly recommended.

NC Tour - Day 1, Mon 23 July 2007 : Toronto, ON, to Dubois, PA

On the road at 7:55 Monday morning and stopped for diesel near Grimsby, ON, where the cashier says, "It's hardly worth opening the pump for that", as we spent $14 CND. In the parking lot of Tim Horton's I pick up a cup from the ground and toss it into the nearby garbage can. An older guy calls out to thank me and offers me a doughnut.
We arrive at the Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls at 9:55 and by 10:10 we've cleared customs/immigration and are headed through the burbs of Buffalo. We're stopped at a red light and a guy yells, "Get a life!....It's OK...I'm only messin' with ya. That thing got a radio?"
We pass the ominous looking Gowanda Correctional Facility and head south on Hwy 62. The Racer's Restaurant is billed as "South Dayton's finest fast food" and we stop for delicious frozen yogurt. Through Warren, PA, which is suffering from Walmartization. At the Amish Deli at 70 Fraley Street, Kane, PA, we stop for tea and a home-made scone. Call in or stop by for "Something Wonderful Good." We decide to stop around 17:00 at the Hampton Inn in Dubois, PA, where our CAA card nets us a discount and we get a 10%-off coupon for dinner at the Italian Oven restaurant nearby.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

North Carolina Road Trip

I have been researching the Fuller Family of Sussex for many years and recently have attempted to find the surviving cannons made at their Heathfield Forge, Sussex, England between 1693 - 1793. When I located one at a museum in Beaufort, North Carolina my hubby said, "I'll take you there if you want to go see it". How could I say no?
I've been re-reading Jan Karon's Mitford Series (see my Sabbatical Books blog) which she wrote while living in Blowing Rock, North Carolina so we'll be stopping there too.
Hubby has friends in Kannapolis and Kill Devil Hills, NC and I'm looking forward to meeting them.
We hit the road yesterday and had no problems getting out of metro Toronto and across the border at Niagara Falls. When we stopped for coffee at Tim Horton's, Grimsby, a very polite young man from Virginia asked if he could take pictures of our smart car Trudi. We wish him, and his family, a safe journey home.
Stayed last night at the Hampton Inn, Dubois (say doo-boys), Pennsylvania - amazing value for money. Heading south through Maryland into West Virginia today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

No diesel for North America

The new smart fortwo will be hitting dealerships in Canada in about two months time. The 1.0 litre gas-engined car will be the only model on offer. It will displace the current diesel-powered car, so if you want a diesel get a 2007 model while stocks last.The changeover has been dictated by the US launch of smart where the new model is being targeted at fifty cities. Canadian customers who have been sold nothing but diesel to date will be disappointed by the lack of a diesel option on the new model. A diesel version of the new car will be sold in Europe but is not expected across the pond anytime soon.
Story and photo by RLT

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Smart ForTwo Pure MHD

When it comes to buyers' pockets and the environment, the Smart ForTwo makes a lot of sense as the city car of choice.
By Richard Aucock
What's the smartest way to travel? Well, when it comes to buyers' pockets and the environment, there's no doubt about it - the Smart ForTwo makes a lot of sense - especially as it is about to get even greener.
Three super-efficient models, which promise to save pennies as well as the planet, have just been unveiled...and we've driven them all. Biggest news is the MHD - or Micro Hybrid Drive. This is no battery and electric motor-equipped hybrid, as with Toyota's Prius. Instead, it features a starter generator, which means the ForTwo can stop and restart its engine when needed. Come to a halt and as long as you keep your foot on the brake, the engine cuts out. It restarts as soon as you lift off. The unit also disconnects if your speed drops to 5mph or below, too.
Fuel savings equate to eight per cent on the combined cycle, or 13 per cent in town. And CO2 emissions of 103g/km make it cleaner than a Prius. When this model arrives next year, it will add £300 to the price.
Read full article here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Live Earth" is killing Earth

Concert series doesn't practice what it preaches

Anika Manzoor, Online Staff Writer7/16/2007If we don't think about it, "Live Earth" sounds like a great idea: celebrities from across the globe unite to spread awareness about man-made climate change and how detrimental it is to our environment. Let's face it, whether we like it or not, celebrities have a significant impact on the mindset of the average person. They are considered role models by many, their words have value, so when they say, "The world is in trouble, we need to save it," people are likely to listen. However, this message is deeply marred by the disturbingly huge amount of gas used and pollution expelled to put this event into action.

Matt Bellamy, lead singer of the British band Muse dubbed the event as "private jets for climate change," a sentiment shared by many bands, including Arctic Monkeys and the Who. Bellamy couldn't have hit the mark better. "Live Earth" concerts were spread out through all seven continents, which required over 150 performers and presenters to fly a total of 222,623.63 miles around the world. This figure doesn't even account for the various dancers, technicians, and support staff. And we cannot forget the audience of 1,268,500 worldwide, who certainly didn't walk, bike or use any other mode of environmentally friendly transportation to attend the concert.

What was more unbelievable was the main sponsor of the concert held in Germany was DaimlerChrysler, and the Smart car was the official automobile to transport stars. Greenpeace was outraged at this deal, claiming that finding a more inappropriate sponsor would be difficult. They stated that Chrysler has an average carbon dioxide emission of 186 grams per kilometer, although it has been an industry goal to reduce emissions to 140 grams per kilometer. Greenpeace also pointed out that the Smart car is hardly environmentally friendly, as its original purpose was to "transport two people and a case of beer."

Read more here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Analysts Say This Little Car Is Going to Sell Big (at First)

Smart May Find It Has Limited Appeal in U.S. After First Year
By Jean Halliday Published: July 16, 2007

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Are SUV-loving Americans ready for the Smart Car? Even though the micro-vehicle is rather odd-looking, seats only two and tops out at 91 mph, it will be a hit -- at least for a while -- after it hits the U.S. market in January, auto experts predict. But they question its long-term outlook.
Knowing U.S. consumers had safety questions, Smart went on tour to show off its rebuilt body. The timing is good here for Smart due to increased environmental awareness and fuel efficiency, said Vic Doolan, nonexecutive chairman of consultant Courland Automotive Practice, former president-CEO of Volvo Cars of North America and ex-president of BMW of North America. (Smart is designed to deliver 40 miles per gallon, and the brand was an "official global partner" for Live Earth.) Mr. Doolan said another plus is that savvy auto magnate Roger Penske is the U.S. distributor for Smart, which is owned by Germany's DaimlerChrysler.
Read more here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Smart fortwo concept trailers prove fortwo will tow the line

Posted Mar 23rd 2007 9:21AM by Damon Lavrinc

In what appears to be way of addressing the lack of trunk space in the new Smart fortwo, DCX has released a few sketches showing the Smart accessorized to appeal to that overly-pursued active lifestyle consumer.The three drawings (two of which are posted after the jump) include the above boat trailer, a motorcycle hauler and a traveling living space; complete with sink, stove, storage and bed.While all are intriguing, Smart doesn't intend to build these trailers anytime soon. We certainly like the idea, but are a bit worried about getting stuck behind one on our way up to Tahoe.

See source for more sketches.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gordon Murray to Develop Revolutionary New City Car

The name Gordon Murray might not be a household name, but he's theman behind some of the most radical vehicles to hit the road. He was the brainchild behind the McLaren F1, which held the record as being the world's fastest car for quite a number of years, only recently defeated by the Bugatti Veyron. Since that time, Murray has gone back to building lightweight, minimalist sports cars, contributing to the Caparo T1 [photo] project amongst others. The next thing on Murray's list of achievements is nothing less than to revolutionize the automobile once more.
The car will be called the Type 25, the number standing for the 25th new vehicle he's developed. Murray has been pretty tight lipped about what the car will be like, but he's revealed that it'll be tiny – less than the size of a smart fortwo (of which he's a big fan), and will take the form of an MPV microvan, though there are up to 14 different body styles in the making. Regarding the car itself, Murray says, “You don't sit normally in it, you don't get in and out normally, and you don't load luggage in the normal way.” Given this statement, we're not exactly sure what to expect.
Read full article here.