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.

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:

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.