Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
By LEILA ABBOUD
There's a bright spot amid the global automobile sector's gloom: Sales of small, chic European cars -- Daimler AG's Smart, Fiat SpA's 500, and BMW AG's Mini Cooper --have grown this year.
The three have common traits that likely are sparking their success: trendy design, a high-end image and fuel efficiency. The cars' popularity shows how, even in a tough economic climate, consumers still can be enticed to buy cars that are perceived as special enough to make a lifestyle statement about their owners.
"These cars have enormous emotional appeal," says John Lawson, a Citigroup automobile analyst in London. "But as products, they also hit consumers' priorities on fuel economy and style on the head, so they are selling well."
To be sure, sales of niche models won't save the ailing automobile sector. Car sales have plummeted since August as consumers spooked by a looming global recession delay spending on big-ticket items. The credit crunch also has made it harder for some people to secure loans to buy cars. To cope, many car makers are closing factories temporarily to keep vehicle supply in line with demand. Companies such as France's Renault SA, Germany's Volkswagen AG and General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. in the U.S. are lobbying for government aid to help them weather the financial crisis.
Read full article here.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich., (Oct. 31, 2008) – smart USA Distributor LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Automotive Group, Inc., (NYSE: PAG), delivered the 20,000th smart fortwo at smart center Dallas, in Dallas, Texas. This sales milestone was accomplished in less than ten months from the initial sales launch of the vehicle in the United States.
“Hitting this landmark just ten months following sales launch proves that the smart fortwo is changing the landscape of America’s highways,” said Dave Schembri, president of smart USA. “More U.S. consumers are discovering that the fortwo is the right car at the right time, offering a high level of fuel efficiency, comfort, agility, safety and ecology.”
The smart fortwo continues to be an attractive vehicle solution for American consumers in our value-oriented, environmentally responsible society. It is the most fuel efficient, non-hybrid vehicle in the United States according to the 2009 EPA Fuel Economy Guide, achieving an average of 41 miles per gallon on the highway. The fortwo is also certified by the EPA as a “Smartway” vehicle, which indicates good environmental performance, placing it among the “greenest” vehicles on the market.
The 2009 model year smart fortwo will begin to arrive at dealerships for delivery to consumers the first week of November. The new model adds two additional color choices for its exterior interchangeable body panels with “rally” red, a color reminiscent of a fire truck, and metallic gray joining the color pallet. The vehicle has been on sale in the United States since January 2008, and is available at 73 smart centers in 35 states.
Further information about smart USA can be found at http://www.smartusa.com/.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Rain is crashing down and you are late for work. The bus is late and there's no taxi in sight. Why not rent a car? It sounds insane, but it will soon be possible for citizens of Ulm, the focus of a pilot project by Daimler, which wants to make car rental as "easy as using a mobile phone."
The company plans to make a fleet of 50 blue-striped Smart cars available in Ulm to customers who sign up for the project. It will work like car-sharing in Europe and North America, but without the designated parking spots: Customers can unlock a car using a driver's license outfitted with an electronic chip, then type in a PIN code, and drive off. When they're finished, the car can be almost left anywhere in Ulm, waiting for the next driver.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
All the stars of the show share a philosophy of tackling the reality of mobility in and around the city, today, tomorrow and in the more distant future.
Nissan's vision for the future of urban transportation is encapsulated in Nuvu, literally a 'new view' of the type of car we will be driving in the middle of the next decade. Compact - it's just 3 meters long - Nuvu is a concept vehicle with unique 2+1 seating. It is aimed at urban dwellers who don't want to compromise on their personal freedom or their comfort, yet who appreciate that there is a need for a dramatic change in the way we move around our cities.
Nuvu is an electric vehicle, is agile, easy to drive and even easier to park. Nissan has already announced plans to introduce an all-electric car in Japan and the US in 2010 and to mass-market it globally in 2012. Nuvu is not that car, though it does share some of the technology that will feature in the planned production vehicle.
Nuvu incorporates a witty representation of Nissan's green credentials: across its all-glass roof are a dozen or so small solar panels. Shaped like leaves on a branch, the power they generate is fed to the battery using a 'tree trunk' within the car as a conduit. Nuvu also uses natural, organic and recycled materials within the cabin.
Nuvu is compact on the outside yet roomy on the inside. Built on a unique platform, it sits on a wheelbase of 1980 mm but is 1700 mm wide and 1550 mm tall to create a large and airy cabin.
Read more here.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
About a third of the new models presented at the show are "clean cars" that use "a little or a lot of electricity," said Francois Roudier of the French carmakers' group CCFA.
Big names like Germany's Daimler and lesser known entities such as France's Heuliez have shown all-electric models here, hoping to cash in on both the new regulations and consumer fears over soaring oil prices.
Some are still prototypes, like Renault's ZE Concept, which the company describes as a "socially-responsible vehicle," while others are already well into the test phase, like Daimler's Smart car, which is currently being trialed in a rental scheme for companies in London.
Carmakers are in a rush to get their models onto the market before new European Union legislation kicks in in 2012.
Read full story here.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Alyn Edwards, Vancouver SunPublished: Friday, September 19, 2008
When Drew Geldart moved to Vancouver from Edinburgh, one of the most stressful decisions he faced was buying a car. He needed to get a job, find a home and get oriented in his new city. He needed transportation to do it.
He was greatly relieved when he signed on as sales and marketing coordinator for Karo Group -- a top branding agency in Western Canada that shapes brands through advertising, interactive, environments and communications design -- because one of the biggest, and most useful, perks was full use of the company car. Add to this, the car was eco-friendly which fit in with Geldart's environmental philosophy.
Karo Group bought a company Smart car last year. It made sense to have one fuel-efficient car that could be signed out by employees needing transportation for client visits and other purposes. But the company, a Best Workplaces in Canada award winner, went one step further allowing any employee to request the car for personal use.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
“The Smart electric drive makes zero-emission driving in an urban environment a reality,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, president and CEO of Daimler AG. “The continuing rising demand shows the success and the potential of the Smart Fortwo from Hambach. This year we have already sold 90,000 cars, more than 16,000 of them in the U.S.A. From mid-2009, the Smart will also become a familiar sight on Chinese roads.”
The new Smart Fortwo electric drive with a lithium-ion battery will be produced in a small series from the end of 2009; the company debuted the Fortwo EV electric vehicle in 2006 and since 2007, a fleet of 100 Fortwo EVs has been tested in everyday service in London.
“The Fortwo is a success story,” said Anders Sundt Jensen, Head of Brand Management for Smart. “It has won lots of fans in 37 markets worldwide. The Smart is particularly sought-after in the U.S.A. which, even in the first year of the market launch, has become the third-strongest market after Italy and Germany. There it is already a familiar sight on the roads of cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Phoenix.”
The Smart plant in Hambach was inaugurated in 1997 and produced its first vehicle in 1998.
Source: Canadian Driver
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
These days, trying to squeeze a few extra kilometres out of a tank of fuel is a good idea.But a growing number of enthusiasts -- known as hypermilers -- are taking this goal to the extreme.Hypermilers will do just about anything to increase their economy and extend their driving range. Some of the methods they use, such as tailgating a transport truck to drive in the slipstream, however, might not even be legal. And that's not something hypermiler and fuel efficiency expert Keith Hebert, 37, of Abbotsford, B.C., condones ."I promote the practical and usable techniques drivers can use. There are definitely some other techniques that might not be legal," says Hebert, webmaster of www.100mpg.ca. "My definition of a hypermiler is somebody who's able to exceed the official fuel economy rating of their car."
Read full article here.
[We met Keith Hebert in early September, 2005 at a cruise night in Port Perry, Ontario hosted by Haugen's Famous Chicken and Ribs Barbeque. See photo above and this post.]
Friday, August 29, 2008
t's Smart Car -- the tiny, fuel-efficient Mercedes car that doesn't even look as big as a medium pizza from Domino's. It is just 8.8 feet long and five feet high and wide. It's rated 33 miles to the gallon city, 41 highway -- where it can hit 90 mph top speed. The list price ranges $11,000 to $16,000, sometimes more with options.
The European import just went on sale in the U.S. in January, with 14,000 sold already, over 2,500 in July alone. There's a year-long wait list just to buy one. Only five dealers in New England carry them -- in Lynnfield and Somerville, Massachusetts; Warwick, Rhode Island and East Hartford and Fairfield, Connecticut.
WATCH VIDEO HERE.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Take the hottest and coolest new ride...the Smart Fortwo. Throw it into a crazed Ed Hardy® blender. Mix in some performance goodies. Toss in some outrageous sound waves. The result is Project Tattoo, a series of limited edition, Ed Hardy® inspired rolling works of art.
Full story and more pictures here.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
(Ratings separated by front-, side-, and rear-impact tests)
10. Hummer H3 -- Front: Acceptable, Side: Acceptable, Rear: Poor
9. Jeep Patriot (without optional side-airbags) -- Acceptable, Marginal, Acceptable
8. Pontiac G6 Convertible -- Acceptable, Marginal, Marginal
7. Mitsubishi Raider/Dodge Dakota -- Acceptable, Marginal, Poor
6. GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado -- Acceptable, Poor, Marginal
5. Mazda B Series/Ford Ranger -- Acceptable, Marginal, Poor
4. Chevrolet Aveo -- Acceptable, Marginal, Poor
3. Saab 9-7X/Chevrolet Trailblazer/GMC Envoy -- Acceptable, Poor, Marginal
2. Suzuki Forenza -- Acceptable, Poor, Poor
1. Kia Rio/Hyundai Accent -- Acceptable, Poor, Poor
Honorable Mention: Chrysler 300 (Good, Poor, Marginal), Mazda 3 (Good, Poor, Marginal), Audi A4 Cabriolet (Good, Marginal Poor), BMW 3 Series Convertible (Good, Marginal, Poor), Buick LaCrosse (Good, Marginal, Poor)
Read full article here.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
"We have no plans for a second Smart plant," said a spokesman for the Mercedes-Benz division, which includes Smart.
He was responding to a report in Auto Motor und Sport that a second plant was under consideration given surging demand for the small cars, which was about to strain capacity at its plant in Hambach, France.
The spokesman said capacity utilization at Hambach was "very satisfactory" but he declined to discuss future production plans. He also said Smart had no plans for the foreseeable future to expand its product range beyond the two-seat version.
Auto Motor und Sport had quoted management sources as saying the company was sounding out the option of building another site, with Asia or the United States under discussion as possible locations.
Total Smart brand sales rose nearly 57 percent in the first seven months of the year to 81,300 units and were up by just over a quarter in July alone to 12,400 cars.
U.S. sales for the Smart two-seater hit 2,559 in July, bringing total U.S. deliveries to around 14,000 units since its launch there at the start of the year.
(Reporting by Hendrik Sackmann; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
Monday, August 25, 2008
Visitors will be taken from the birth of the Citroen 2CV through the stages of its development and history.
Citroen 2CVIn 1948, when the Citroen 2CV first appeared at the Paris car show, it wasn’t and immediate success with French motorists because it only had one headlight, no starter motor and the car’s designer, Pierre Jules Boulanger, was forced to admit that it looked like an umbrella on wheels.
However, the low price of the new car meant that the poorer French people could afford one, so its popularity soared and soon there was a waiting list of five years for the Citroen 2CV, which was fast becoming a French icon.
The 2CV was economical on fuel and cheap to repair, and featured an air-cooled engine that was unlikely to go wrong as well as excellent suspension that made it the perfect family holiday car for exploring bumpy country roads.
With thanks to volksmith.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Keith Morgan,The Province
A wider selection of gas-sipping compact and sub-compact cars -- with smaller carbon tireprints -- is set to roll into a dealership near you.Demand is clearly growing by the day for cheaper alternatives to the typically larger, fuel-gulping North American vehicles.
Sadly, their arrival won't be tomorrow or even next week, but the race is on among the Big Three to get their successful European products on this side of the Atlantic.
It's not just a matter of commandeering the products as they roll off the assembly lines in such places as the U.K. and Germany because those cars are spoken for domestically.
Besides, even if it were possible, there has to be a guarantee of supply once they are launched here and that is best served by local production.The industry here has been reluctant to introduce these so-called world cars in the past because it's never been clear if there is sufficient demand to make it truly worthwhile.To date, manufacturers have also found it very difficult to turn a profit on econo-boxes while they have made plenty on big sedans, trucks and SUVs.And there has always been a strongly-publicized bias against smaller vehicles, fuelled by the likes of the U.S. insurance industry, which for years has been something of a fear monger about the safety of small cars. Read full article here
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Belleair, Fl, (PRWEB) August 21, 2008 -- Smart Car of America and the Northern California Smart Car Chapter hosts major Smart Car Rally.
The Northern California Chapter along with Smart Car of America spent last weekend hosting their first annual Smart Fortwo event.
Mr. Porter, one of the first pioneers of the Smart Car of America Community, as well as an avid smart car enthusiast and owner of a 2008 smart fortwo passion coupe, said "the smart car has been an icon since it rolled off the assembly line in 1998. They appeal to all segments of the population and when the Rally and Photo Shoot idea came up from our Northern California Chapter, it truly felt like the perfect event for all smart owners to participate in and to really mark the first success point for the smart car here in the United States during this introductory year of the smart car to the US marketplace."
Read full story here.
Friday, August 01, 2008
"We expect Smart sales will come in between 24,000 and 27,500 during 2008," Penske said. The Smart "fourtwo" car went on sale in the US for the first time in January. Penske said surging gasoline prices had helped boost demand for the small, fuel-efficient car. If Smart owner Daimler AG of Germany can deliver enough vehicles to the US, Smart sales could reach between 30,000 and 32,000 units in 2009, Penske said.
Comment: Roger Penske is "Head of Rationing" at smart in the USA with long wait times of up to a year to take delivery of the car. Smart can currently sell more cars than they can make. The underlying potential for economy cars in the USA is masked by the failure of manufacturers to offer them in sufficient quantities.
The gas-engined smart on offer in the USA claims 43.5 miles per US gallon - a long way off the real-world 57.88 miles per US gallon we are achieving with our 2005 smart diesel. Why not bring the new diesel version to North America, supposedly more economical than 'my' old diesel version? 70 plus mpg anybody? The car would be a humdinger. RLT.
Greg Williams For The Calgary Herald - Published: Friday, August 01, 2008
When Mercedes-Benz designed the Smart car, chances are good it wasn't thinking it would be a high-mileage freeway cruiser.Or that it would be towing a light-duty trailer on a regular basis.They obviously hadn't heard of Les McDonald, a Cochrane-based Smart car owner. This microcar devotee has put 150,000 kilometres on his Smart ForTwo, driving to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico once, to the Maritimes twice, and Vancouver three times.
"This car can do a lot more than people think it can," McDonald says of the car's utility factor. "With a Clever End (it expands the car's carrying capacity) and a hitch, there's just a world of things you can do."
Read full story here.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
This is the highest known altitude for a smart car on public roads. If anybody can better this please let us know.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Total distance covered: 8918 km (5541 miles).
Fuel economy: 4.06 litres per 100 km ; 57.88 miles per US gallon; 69.51 miles per Imperial gallon.
Diesel was significantly cheaper in the United States where we paid an average of $4.679 USD per US gallon (range was $4.459 to $4.899 USD); the equivalent of $1.23 CDN per litre.
In Canada we paid an average of $1.43 CDN per litre (range was $1.359 to $1.499 CDN per litre); the equivalent of $5.37 USD per US gallon.
Accommodation: Best Value for Money
1. All Seasons Inn and Suites, White Sulphur Springs, Montana - per night $67.41
2. Select Inn, Bismarck, North Dakota - per night $60.89
3. Ramada, Albert Lea, Minnesota - per night $ 64.90
(Rates are in US dollars for two including taxes.)
Eats: Best Breakfast
Pollard Hotel, Red Lodge, Montana - excellent steak & eggs; hollandaise on Eggs Florentine; the place to go for upscale breakfast at reasonable prices if you're staying in Red Lodge
Stone's Throw Cafe, Blairmore, Alberta - fresh, healthy ingredients; highly eco-friendly
Zelo Restaurant, Minneapolis, Minnesota - exquisite downtown ambiance; fabulous fresh pasta and sauces
Best Coffee Stops
Crossroads Coffee House, Cross Plains, Wisconsin - free WiFi
Reggie's Cinema Barista, Historic State Theatre, Jackson, Minnesota
Seney's Drugstore and Soda Fountain, Buffalo, Wyoming - coffee 57¢ a cup
Snowy Mountain Coffee Company, Harlowton, Montana
Overflowing Cup, Kalispell, Montana
Fourth of July Parade, Cody, Wyoming
Medicine Hat Vintage Vehicles Car Club Show n Shine, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Best Attractions: Road Side
Jolly Green Giant, Blue Earth, Wisconsin
"Sandy" the Sandhill Crane, Steele, North Dakota
"Salem Sue" the Holstein, New Salem, North Dakota
The Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota
Saskatchewan Legislative Building, Regina, Saskatchewan
Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater, Menomonie, Wisconsin (buy guidebook for $1)
Harley-Davidson Factory Tour, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
The Crowsnest Museum, Coleman, Alberta
Badlands National Park, Interior, South Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota
Automotive Hall of Fame, Dearborn, Michigan
Neuschwanstein Moments © *
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota
Crazy Horse Memorial, Crazy Horse, South Dakota
The Tunnels, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
* Neuschwanstein Moments © = occur when you back out of paying admission for an attraction/event because you don't perceive it as good value for money and/or it's so crowded you know you won't enjoy it; we coined the phrase when we balked at the huge line-ups and high admission price at the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The border crossing at Detroit is painless and we're soon driving from Windsor to London in heavy rainfall. After stopping at Loblaws for a few groceries we arrive home at about 8 pm, tired but happy to be back. Distance covered today: 697 km (437 miles).
- we spot a yellow & black 2008 on the 401 near Kitchener, ON
- 4 or 5 Eastern Wild Turkeys in a field at the side of the highway
We drive to the The Eisner American Museum of Advertising and Design in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward.
At the check in for the Lake Express Ferry, a clerk asks a group of bikers all the standard questions including, " Are you carrying any weapons?". The snappy reply is, "No. We don't even smoke". The ferry takes two and a half hours to cross Lake Michigan and we arrive in Muskegon, MI, at 10:30 local time after turning our watches forward an hour.
We check in to the Seaway Motel which is a rough and ready biker haunt.
Total distance covered: 109 km (68 miles) by road + 144 km (89 miles) by ferry.
- driving in Milwaukee a voice from nowhere says, "Have fun driving that in the winter". We had no idea where the voice came from so couldn't reply.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
We go on a reconnaissance mission to find the Harley Davidson factory so that we can show up early the next day to get tour tickets. It's interesting comparing Milwaukee, WI, to Minneapolis, MN, where we stayed last night. After a lot of driving we check in to the newly-opened Crowne Plaza Hotel. Distance covered today: 573 km (356 miles).
- an older couple come to our table at the Country Kitchen in Mauston, WI, to chat about the smart car. He bought a toy smart in Italy that "speaks Italian". They're headed out to Montana so we share some travel tips.
- dozens of Sandhill Cranes feeding in the marshes along the highway
At Fergus Falls, MN, we stop at the Otter Tail County Historical Society and Museum for more research.
Continuing east, we stay the night at the Holiday Inn Express in Minneapolis. "Minneapolis is the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Hennepin County. The city lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. Known as the Twin Cities, these two cities form the core of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the sixteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States, with about 3.2 million residents. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 369,051 people in 2006." Source: Wikepdia. I am surprised how elegant and sophisticated this mid-west city is. Conventions are big business here, and this is convention season. We walk out to Nicolett Street which is lined with chic restaurants and bars. Dinner at the Zelo Restaurant was excellent.
- yellow and black 2008 smart in a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
We stop for lunch at the Dakota Diner in Dickinson, a typical western lunch spot where listening to the locals is always entertaining. At New Salem we stop for gas in the shadow of Salem Sue - the world's largest Holstein Cow statue. We opt for an early check-in to the Select Inn (an excellent value for money) in Bismarck, the state capital. In the evening we head into town and have dinner at the Fiesta Villa Mexican restaurant in the old Northern Pacific Railroad depot, an architectural beauty in the Spanish style built over a hundred years ago. Bismarck has many interesting old buildings by the Missouri river. Distance covered today: 395 km (245 miles).
- a yellow and black 2008 beeps at us as it passes in downtown Bismarck, ND
- we see dozens of prairie dogs, herds of bison and feral horses in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Crossing the border at Regway was a breeze - one car in front of us and it took only seven minutes. Finding a place to stop for the night proved much more difficult. All of the motels in small towns in this part of Montana are booked up with "oil men" as that business is booming in these parts. Fortunately we find a room late in the day at the Days Inn in Glendive to spend the night. Distance covered today: 461 km (286 miles).
- a guy from Moncton, NB quips, "That's a nice little rig. I'd like one myself".
- officer at the US border crossing asks, " Where do you wind it up?". Hubby answers, " You put the big key in the back".
- we've gotten used to playing, "swerve for gophers" out on the prairies but today we had to brake and swerve for a mother Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse and about eight of her chicks. Fortunately, they all scramble across the road to safety.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
On the prairies it's wise to top up your tank when you can.
We start to get concerned about running out of diesel as a light flashes on the dash board. The gas station at Caronport, SK, which is run by the Briercrest Seminary, saves the day - we stop for a hot drink at their Starbucks outlet.
We check in to the Best Western in Regina, SK and chill out.
Distance covered today: 260 km (162 miles)
- a guy driving a battered Mercury pick-up truck says, " I wanted to buy the diesel one of those but couldn't get one. I don't want to buy the new gas version. Those Americans have ruined it."
Saturday, July 12, 2008
On the radio we hear about a vintage car show and jump at the chance to see some classic cars. Before we know it, we're in the show and our smart car Trudi wins a plaque for the car that has travelled from the furthest distance. The event is held at the Pioneer Village in the exhibition grounds, a pleasant shady, grassy area. It's fun that we get to vote on our favourites in categories: the best motorbikes, trucks, cars and upholstery categories.
Many thanks to the Medicine Hat Vintage Vehicles Car Club for organizing and hosting a wonderful event. We thoroughly enjoyed the vehicles, the friendly atmosphere, the barbecue and the door prizes.
We stay at the Best Western in Swift Current, SK. Distance covered today: 342 km (213 miles)
- at the car show, Trudi attracts a lot of attention and we get all the usual questions about the car: mileage, highway driving, cargo space, engine specs etc.
- yellow and silver smart spotted at the farmer's market in Medicine Hat, AB
After a Tim Horton's lunch in the burbs of Calgary, we visit the Glenbow Archives for more research. The world renowned Calgary Stampede is on in the city and traffic is crazy. You are underdressed without a cowboy hat.
We spend the night at the Travelodge in Brooks, AB. Distance covered today: 171 km (106 miles).
- we spot a black/silver and a white/silver smart in Calgary
- Northern Goshawk
The signs for the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre say CLOSED (for renovations) but we ignore them and show up to meet with Monica Field who's working on the new displays.
The grave of Reuben Steeves, who features in hubby's book, eluded us on our last visit so we are determined to find it this time. We check out two cemeteries at Bellevue with no luck. At Blairmore we do laundry and have a very nice lunch at the Stones Throw Cafe.
We regroup and try the Blairmore Cemetery where a guy sitting in his pick-up truck calls out to me and says, "There's another one up there you know". It took me a while to realize he was pointing to another cemetery up the hill. We head up the hill and it took just about ten minutes before we found the graves of Reuben Steeves, his daughter Eva and his nephew Harry (aka Harvey).
At Pincher Creek we tour the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village and then drop in on Edwin Knox, the cousin of a friend, who is a park ranger at the Waterton Lakes National Park. We grab dinner from the A & W and stay at the Super 8 Motel which is under construction. Total distance today: 100km (62 miles)
- a member of the construction crew at the hotel says, " I like the concept of the car but it wouldn't suit me in my line of work." We agree adding, " it's not the car for everyone".
Wild Life Watch
- four elk in a field at the side of the road
We stop for a photo ops at the courthouse in Fernie, BC and the "World's Largest Truck", in Sparwood, BC. "The Terex Titan 33-19 was a prototype off-road earth hauler built by the Terex Division of General Motors Corporation. It had an operating capacity of 320 tons, an empty weight of 235, and a maximum loaded weight of 553. At the time of its construction, it was the largest truck ever built, but the size record was broken by the Caterpillar 797B in 1998." Source: Wikipedia.
At the BCM Inn Coleman, we give the car a much needed sponge bath before heading out for dinner at Vito's Pizza. Distance covered today: 440 km (273 miles).
- bikers from Oklahoma are amused by the smart car. One of them, noticing hubby's British accent asks , "What part of Alabama are you from?". Not missing a beat hubby quips, "I worry about you guys trying to turn my car into a trike".
- In Kalispell, MT, we spot a red and silver 2008 smart car.
- ferruginous hawk nesting on the top of a telephone pole on the shore of a lake
After a superb dinner at the Mackenzie River Pizza Company we spent the night at the Grant Creek Best Western in Missoula, MT.
Distance covered today: 471 km (293 miles).
- A lady at a gas station approaches the car and is startled to see me in the passenger seat, " Oh, I thought you were someone I knew. A guy in town has a car just like yours and the license plate says Tomato." We kept our eyes peeled but didn't spot it.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
We stop in Harlowton, MT to see the E57B "the last electric locomotive", pictured here. The Electric railway ran from Harlowton to Tacoma Washington over five mountain ranges until its demise in 1974. At the Snowy Mountain Coffee shop across the street we stop for ice-cream and to use the Internet.
At Lewistown, hubby snaps photos of the Masonic Lodge built by Sam Gebo.
We stay the night at the All Seasons Inn & Suites in White Sulphur Springs, MT. I was convinced that it had only been open a short time as it is spotlessly clean and beautifully maintained and was consequently surprised to learn it's been open eight years. We have dinner at Dempsey's Bar in town. Distance covered today: 492 km (305 miles)
- as we fill up with diesel in Red Lodge I get talking to a guy about our Route 66 smart car tour and tell him it only cost us $450 in fuel. He laughs and says, "We work in construction and I've spent over $500 to fill my trucks just this morning".
- outside Dempsey's Bar in White Sulphur Springs an older gentleman says, "And I thought I had the smallest car in town, you've beat me by half a car". Turns out he drives a Toyota Yaris.
Wild Life Watch:
- four mule deer by the side of the road. They've got much larger ears than the white-tailed deer we've got in Ontario.
Next we head into Fromberg to meet up with Shirley Smith, proprietor of The Little Cowboy Bar and museum and former Ms Senior Montana 2001. Next we visit the Gebo house and Barn where Anna Belle Hill generously gives us a tour.
We stop in at The Garage Steakhouse, an automobile themed restaurant and bar, in Bridger where we located the site of a former jailhouse which features in hubby's book.
- jack rabbits, Western meadowlarks and magpies at Gebo Cemetery
Monday, July 07, 2008
Ten years - that's how long it's been since the lovable smart fortwo first rolled off the assembly in Hambach, France. Since then, the compact two-seater has celebrated a multitude of accomplishments, being the vehicle of choice for more than 900,000 customers worldwide as well as holding title as the only automobile still in production to be displayed at New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Read full article here.
With thanks to Lourdes.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
I take the opportunity to get some laundry and postcard writing done while hubby and fellow researcher Karen head off to the Carbon County Historical Society.
When hubby comes to pick me up a guy at the laundromat says, " I think I saw your car in town, or another one like it". I laugh, thinking this highly unlikely. We haven't seen another smart car since we left Toronto. Driving back to the hotel, lo and behold, there's a 2008 smart cabrio (red & black like our Trudi) parked at the side of the road. We park behind it and within a minute the owners arrive and so we talk smarts for a few minutes. The car is emblazoned with the Carpet One logo and is from Billings, Montana.
Continuing north, on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway (scenic being a vast understatement) and then on to the Beartooth Highway All-American Road. We had no idea what we were in for. We should have realized how high we were climbing when we were marvelling at how deep the snow was on either side of the road. Coming down was a white-knuckle experience for hubby who has vertigo.
The Beartooth Highway, "traces a series of steep zigzags and switchbacks, along the Montana-Wyoming border to the 10,974 foot (3,345 m.) high Beartooth Pass. The approximate elevation rise is from 5,200 to 8,000 feet in 12 miles (1,600 to 2,400 m in 20 km) in the most daring landscapes." source: Wikipedia
Distance covered today: 320 km (199 miles)
- When we check out of our hotel, we find two couples looking at the smart. Turns out they are two retired teachers and their husbands travelling from Kentucky and Minnesota and have a lot of questions about the car. "We were wondering who was driving that car", one lady says.
- Police officer in Cody, WY, asks, "Aren't they illegal? They should be illegal". My reply is, "When all the motorcycles get off the road, we'll get off the road". He can only laugh and nod his head in reply.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
After stopping for lunch at the Ram's Horn Cafe in Worland, WY, we go off the highway and down a gravel track in search of the ghost town of Gebo. First we find the cemetery and then the ruins of many buildings. Nearby the oil extraction continues on the Gebo dome.
At Thermopolis we visit the Hot Springs County Museum for more research. We spend the night at the Days Inn, Thermopolis, WY. Distance covered today - 333 km(207 miles)
- Lady in Thermopolis spots the smart car as we're in a local museum. She phones her mom to come down and look at it.
- Man with pick-up truck in Buffalo, WY says, " We all need one of those".
- Too many pronghorn antelope to count on the drive through the Big Horn Mountains. We don't spot any big horn sheep however.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Deadwood, SD, has been immortalized in fiction and may be best known as the place where "Wild Bill" Hickok was murdered. "It became known for its wild and almost lawless reputation, during which time murder was common, and punishment for murders not always fair and impartial." Source Wikipedia: Many of its historic buildings have been wonderfully restored to their former glory.
We spend the night at the Days Inn, Gillette, Wyoming. Distance covered today - 715 km (444 miles).
- Iowan man on his way to Seattle says, "I've been looking at them on the web since they came out."
- Lady at the Badlands squeaks, " I want to buy one of those! That's my next car!
- rattlesnake warnings at the badlands lookouts
- dozens of prairie dogs digging out after the rain
- a doe and her two fawns stop traffic on HWY 385
At lunch time, we stop at Sioux Falls Park and eat at the Lookout Cafe which is in a converted power generator building.
The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota takes the kitsch-culture prize today.
"There has been a Corn Palace in Mitchell since 1892...Each year the Corn Palace is redecorated sporting a new theme. .. The decorative materials ..are all native corn, grasses and grains of South Dakota."
We stayed at the Best Western, Chamberlain, SD, on the banks of the Missouri River. Distance covered today - 524 km (325 miles).
- At breakfast a guy asks, "Does the wind blow you around?".
- At Sioux Falls a family from Belleville, ON, leave a note on the smart car that says," Happy Canada Day from Belleville :-)"
- many ducks dabbling in the rapids and basking on rocks at Sioux Falls
Monday, June 30, 2008
At La Crosse, WI, we cross the Mississippi into Minnesota and stay at the Ramada Inn in Albert Lea, MN. Distance covered today - 597 km (371 miles).
- Cook at Gables Restaurant in Richland Center, Wisconsin asked, " Is that you'se guyses little electric thingy out there?"
- Lady in a Nissan Ultima holds up as sign up to the window that says, "CUTE CAR!" as they pass us on the I90 near exit 166.
- we've seen many large birds of prey wheeling in the sky but are not sure whether they are eagles or not
- baby bunny is nibbling on the grass behind our motel as we pull in to park
We book into the Super 8 Motel in Hampshire, Illinois knowing we've done the hardest days driving of the tour - 913 km (570 miles).
- Customs Officer at Windsor/Detroit border crossing, "You're going to Montana in that?!"
- Guy at rest stop near Kalamazoo, Michigan, "You bought that at the right time. I saw them all over Italy."
- 3 white-tailed deer, two of which we discouraged from crossing the highway by using the horn
- 1 groundhog, ditto
- large snapping turtle showed no signs of wishing to tangle with traffic
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Our last American tour with the smart car was to North Carolina in the summer of 2007. I'm sure the scenery in Montana, our destination, will rival this view of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I’ve never been a fan of the Smart car, not least because it doesn’t like to be spelt with a capital S. I’ve been a snob about its short, stubby shape for a decade but I’ve just turned 180 degrees and am sold on this electric version – though just this version, I hasten to add.
At long last it’s okay to be seen driving a car that’s attached to a plug, and it’s so of-the-moment that it turns you a pleasant shade of green.
It makes perfect sense if you live in a town peppered with electric recharging posts and if you favour Prada over passengers (it’s got as much room inside as a tumble dryer).
Nobody in or out of the car would suspect that it lacks an internal combustion engine as you hoof it away from the lights, and up to 30mph it doesn’t let the side down.
Read full story here.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The interior focuses on clear lines and fine details. Leather in stylish cognac brown with a contrasting two-colour seam defines the character of the interior and lends it a personal touch. A warm, brown tone prevails throughout, from the heated leather seats through the interior door trims, the 3-spoke leather sports steering wheel with integrated gearshift and the leather gear knob to the leather trims on the velour floor mats. Additional highlights in matte silver on the speedometer, cockpit clock, rev counter and steering wheel provide a harmonious contrast and round off the modern character. In this way, the style of the smart fortwo is maintained and developed in impressive fashion. Starting from: $20,900 coupe, $23,900 cabriolet
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Update: More comments from the States - lack of grunt, lack of economy - hard to have both.
But the current gas-engined model is neither one thing nor the other - a knockout on economy or competitive with rivals on performance.