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 -

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.