By MATT MOORE 07.10.07, 2:04 PM ET
The tiny two-seat Smart car is a common sight on the congested streets of European capitals, something DaimlerChrysler AG is eager to duplicate in cities like New York and Los Angeles when it begins selling the vehicle in the U.S. next year.
But alongside the promise of fuel efficiency - the Smart fortwo can get around 40 miles per gallon - and of parking in the narrowest of spaces, the automaker will have to convince American drivers braving roads filled with sport utility vehicles that the micro-car is also safe.
At just 8.8 feet long and slightly wider and taller than 5 feet, it is already one of the smallest cars on any road in any country; it weighs around 1,700 pounds.
Compare that to a Ford Explorer, a sport utility vehicle 6 feet high, more than 6 feet across and nearly 16 feet long, and it's not hard to see why safety might be a concern.
The company touts its safety package: a stiff "safety cell" frame, antilock brakes, side and knee air bags, and intelligent seatbelts that sense motion changes.
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