Thursday, December 25, 2008

Business smarts 30: Edinburgh Flats

Photo taken while on holiday in Edinburgh, Christmas Day, 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Christmas from SCOOT

We received this greeting from Edward Garcia,
our salesman at smart centre, Mississauga

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Small European Cars Shine

A Diminutive Trio Manage to Skirt the Global Decline in Sales

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

smart USA Delivers 20,000th smart fortwo in the United States

Innovative Vehicle Reaches Significant Sales Milestone in Less Than Ten Months

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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cars for Rent, From Almost Any Curb

Want to rent a Smart car for 19 cents a minute? Just flash your driver's licence at a device by the windshield, and off you go. That's the essence of a pilot project starting in the German city of Ulm on Friday.
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.
Read full article here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No Battery Required

Smart is a contender in the economy stakes. Tested in the windy city.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nissan Nuvu

ROLLE, Switzerland (Sept. 9, 2008) - A world premiere of a futuristic concept car and of an all-new production car, as well as a heavily revised version of an existing model will be the stars of Nissan's 2008 Paris Motor Show.
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

Electric vehicles spark at Paris car show

PARIS (AFP) — Carmarkers rolled out a slew of electric models at the Paris motor show Friday, with a view to filling dealer showrooms by 2012 when new European legislation on curbing emissions kicks in.
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

Business smarts 28: Knights on Guard

KOG Protective Services is a 24-hour operation that guarantees rapid response when security concerns arise. Through our fully trained, professional Security Officers, Officer Support Units, Private Investigation Services and Security Consultation Services, we are confident that we can effectively meet all of your protection requirements.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Shared company cars are a smart idea

Businesses are starting to offer fuel efficient, communal vehicles as a benefit to employees and the environment
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.

Read full story here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Smart produces one-millionth car

Hambach, France - Smart has built its one-millionth Fortwo at a time when the company is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Fortwo. The milestone car is a Micro Hybrid Drive in silver metallic and will be donated to charity.
“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

One man's mission: to maximize his mileage

Greg Williams - For The Calgary Herald
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 "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

'Smarter' way to deliver pizza

NECN: Peter Howe, Fall River, Mass.) - The rising cost of gas has small business owners looking to make smart choices about fuel consumption. Here in New England, at least one company that relies on deliveries to make money is turning to a tiny coupe to keep profits up. Seth Hockert Lotz has had a Domino's Pizza franchise in Fall River, Massachusetts for 23 years. Like small businessmen across New England who run delivery fleets, he's been squeezed by gas prices and commodity prices. But, Seth just found a new solution.
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.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Project Tatoo

"Cute" dies...

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

The top 10 cars you do NOT want to crash

With gas prices hovering around $4 throughout much of the country, every day the news seems to feature another story about dealer lots filled with unwanted SUVs while small econoboxes are selling for sticker price or more. Yet with so many commuters ditching their heavy haulers for something a little more petite, there is one issue that seems to get overlooked -- safety. After all, back when Tahoes and Expeditions ruled the road many owners defended the guzzlers by saying they offered more protection on the highway than little, eco-friendly tin cans. But now, with those people now piloting Fits and Yarises, you don't hear that argument quite so much.In addition, surrounding yourself with lots of sheetmetal isn't always the best protection -- despite their small appearance, many small cars are actually very safe, at least according to their crash test results. When the smart fortwo arrived on U.S. shores many wondered how it would hold up in a wreck, but in recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing the minicar was impressively crashworthy. And sometimes the opposite can be true, too -- when the last-generation F-150, for example, was tested by the IIHS, the truck crumpled like a soda can. So given that size doesn't guarantee protection and for many drivers small is the new big, anyway, this raises a question: which 10 cars on sale today will hold up the worst if you wrap them around a tree?

(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

Daimler denies planning second Smart car plant

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) - German car maker Daimler AG does not intend to build another factory for its Smart brand minicars, the company said on Monday, denying a German magazine report.
"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

France to celebrate the Citroen 2CV’s 60th anniversary

France is going to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Citroen Deux Chevaux, or Citroen 2CV as it is commonly known, this coming October with an exhibition of the car being put on specially at the Cite des Sciences et de L'industrie in Paris.
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.
View source.
With thanks to volksmith.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Daimler mulls second smart car production site

FRANKFURT, Aug 23 (Reuters) - German car maker Daimler AG is mulling a second production site for its smart brand on the back of surging demand for the minicars, a German magazine reported. According to a report in auto motor und sport, the smart production site in the French city of Hambach is close to reaching its capacity limit. The company is sounding out the option of building another site, with Asia or the United States under discussion as possible locations, the report said quoting company management sources.Daimler was not immediately available for comment. This year, the smart brand is expected to increase unit sales by 30 percent to 130,000 and post a profit for the second time in a row, the magazine said.It quoted a Mercedes spokesman as saying: "As announced Smart reached break-even in 2007 and we expect Smart to make a profit in 2008." Daimler's two-seat, fuel efficient smart cars were on the verge of extinction two years ago but high fuel prices and eco-conscious consumers have driven demand for the minicar especially in the United States. Sales for the smart fortwo in the United States totalled 2,559 for the month of July, bringing total deliveries through July to about 14,000 units since its launch there at the start of the year. (Reporting by Nicola Leske, editing by Mike Peacock)
View source.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Big Three rev up European small car cavalcade

The sudden demand for 'econo boxes' has eclipsed the size bias mistakenly attached to them
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

Northern California Smart Car Chapter and Smart Car of America Hosts Major Smart Car Rally

Belleair, Fl, (PRWEB) August 21, 2008 -- Smart Car of America and the Northern California Smart Car Chapter hosts major Smart Car Rally.

"Smarts on Lombard Street"
"Smarts on Lombard Street"

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

US Smart car distributor hikes sales estimates

DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) — The US distributor of the tiny Smart car hiked its 2008 sales estimate for the small vehicle Wednesday as US automakers reel from a sharp sales drop in big gasoline-guzzling trucks. Roger Penske, chairman of the Penske Automotive Group of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Smart's sole American distributor, predicted sales would boom beyond an original estimate of 20,000 vehicles. The tiniest car on sale in the US market, accommodates just two adults. It is assembled in Hambach, France.
"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.
View source.
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.

Smart car grows up

Calgary one of the first Canadian cities to latch on to the microcar
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

Smart claims World Record

On Friday 4 July, 2008, Rupert Lloyd Thomas, with navigator Annette Lloyd Thomas, drove his 2005 smart fortwo diesel over "The Top of the World" to an altitude of 10,974 feet (3,345 m) through the Beartooth Pass, along the Montana-Wyoming border, in the United States.

This is the highest known altitude for a smart car on public roads. If anybody can better this please let us know.
See previous.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wild West Tour Best Signs

Red Lodge Cafe, Red Lodge, Montana
Dempsey's Bar & Grill, White Sulphur Springs, Montana
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Wild West Tour Wrap-up

Smart Fortwo 2005 diesel

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

Best Lunch
Stone's Throw Cafe, Blairmore, Alberta - fresh, healthy ingredients; highly eco-friendly

Best Dinner
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

Best Event:
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

Free Attractions
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

Paid Attractions
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

Day Twenty-One: Muskegon, MI to Toronto, ON

Up early and no breakfast provided at the Seaway Motel so we drive into Grand Rapids, MI, then quickly realizing our mistake we get back onto the highway. Luckily we spot a sign saying The Garden Room - All Day Breakfast and duck in for something to eat.
At Dearborn, MI, we visit the Automotive Hall of Fame which has struck the right balance between multi-media entertainment and good factual information. "This is the single greatest honor in the motor vehicle industry, intended to honor a career and/or lifetime achievement. To become a “Hall of Famer” the nominee must be either retired or deceased. Recipients must have significantly impacted the development of the automobile or the motor vehicle industry. Typically, four to eight individuals are inducted each year."
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).

smart Alecs:
  • we spot a yellow & black 2008 on the 401 near Kitchener, ON
Wildlife Watch:
  • 4 or 5 Eastern Wild Turkeys in a field at the side of the highway

Day Twenty: Wilwaukee, WI to Muskegon, MI

Up early at the Crowne Plaza and drove to the Harley-Davidson powertrain division in Wauwatosa, WI. Since we're early, we get a personal tour of the factory where visitor numbers are down due to the opening of the H-D museum in town. (The factory tour is free and so we pass up paying $12 a person for the museum.)
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.

smart Alecs:
  • 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

Day Nineteen: Minneapolis, MN to Milwaukee, WI

To Menomenie, WI, where we have a self guided tour of the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater (pictured here). "The Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater was constructed in 1889 as a tribute to young Mabel Tainter, a lover of music and the arts, who died in 1886 at the age of nineteen. The Memorial was commissioned by Captain and Mrs. Andrew Tainter. Andrew was one of the lumber barons for Knapp, Stout & Co. The Memorial still serves today as a performing arts theater, public reading room and cultural center. " Source: official website. A group of young people were rehearsing for their up coming musical. After coffee at the Acoustic Cafe we're on our way to Milwaukee, WI.
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).

smart Alecs:

  • 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.

Wildlife Watch:

Day Eighteen: Bismarck, ND to Minneapolis, MN

Heading east on Interstate 94 we stop at Steele, ND, to take photos of "Sandy" the world's tallest Sandhill Crane. At Jamestown, ND, we pass the world's largest Buffalo statue. We turn off at Valley City, ND, to see the Hi-Line Bridge which is celebrating it's centenary this year. It's a 3,860 foot long, 162 foot high single track railway bridge. We have brunch at the Broken Spoke restaurant in town.
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.

smart Alecs:
  • yellow and black 2008 smart in a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day Seventeen: Glendive, MT to Bismarck, ND

We drive into town in Glendive for bank and to look at the rail yards - an old building has Burlington Northern on the front, predating the merger with Santa Fe.
As we pull off the interstate into Medora, ND we get stopped by the Sheriff for speeding - he checks our documents and we get off with a warning. We drive through the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the views are stunning.
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).

smart Alecs:
  • a yellow and black 2008 beeps at us as it passes in downtown Bismarck, ND
Wildlife Watch:
  • we see dozens of prairie dogs, herds of bison and feral horses in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Day Sixteen: Regina, SK to Glendive, MT

When we stayed in Regina, SK in 2005 on our return home from the Route 66 tour, we had breakfast at Humpty's on Albert Street - we went back again today. You know you're in Saskatchewan when you get offered pierogies as a side dish on the breakfast menu.
We had a personal tour of the Saskatchewan Legislature which was informative and not quite "politically correct". Next to the new RCMP Heritage Centre where we have an appointment to look through some glass slides of pictures in the Brinkworth collection. We head due south and stop off the highway in the village of Pangman, SK [population 260] and have a late lunch at Kathy's Place.
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).

smart Alecs:
  • 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".

Wildlife Watch:
  • 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

Day Fifteen: Swift Current, SK to Regina, SK

Today is somewhat of a rest day as we drive from Swift Current, SK to Regina, SK. We stop at Moose Jaw, SK and consider doing the tour of the prohibition tunnels but the price and the thought of being herded along with a group make us change our minds. We take a brief look at the old railway station which was at one time the grandest building in town - it's now a liquor store, nuff said.
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)

smart Alecs
  • 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

Day Fourteen: Brooks, AB to Swift Current, SK

We stop at the Brooks Aqueduct before heading west towards Medicine Hat, AB.
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)

smart Alecs
  • 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

Day Thirteen: Pincher Creek, AB to Brooks, AB

At Fort Macleod we visit the RNWMP section of the Union Cemetery. The plaque at the entrance has incorrect information about the murder of Constable George Ernest Willmett. For three years we've been trying in vain to get it corrected. We go to the office of the local newspaper, the Macleod Gazette, in an attempt to interest them in the story. Next we stop in at the courthouse, where the trial took place, and are given a tour by town manager Barry Elliott.
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).

smart Alecs

  • we spot a black/silver and a white/silver smart in Calgary

Wildlife Watch

  • Northern Goshawk

Day Twelve: Coleman, AB to Pincher Creek, AB

Our day starts at the Crowsnest Historical Society Museum in Coleman, AB where I read about "Emporer Pik" one of the best known Mountie murder stories in these parts.
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)

smart Alecs

  • 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

Day Eleven: Missoula, MT to Coleman, AB

Heading north again, we cross the border into British Columbia at Roosville, MT where there are just seven vehicles ahead of us in line and after only 15 minutes we're through customs/immigration and on our way again.
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).

smart Alecs

  • 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.

Wildlife Watch

  • ferruginous hawk nesting on the top of a telephone pole on the shore of a lake

Day Ten: White Sulphur Springs, MT to Missoula, MT

At Helena, MT we visit the state capital building and the Montana State Archives.
On to Butte, MT, which bills itself as "The Richest Hill in the World". We drop in at the Silver Bow Archives. "As of the 2000 census, Butte's population was 33,892. In its heyday between the late 19th century and about 1920, it was one of the largest and most notorious copper boomtowns in the American West, home to hundreds of saloons and a famous red-light district. " Source: Wikipedia
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).

smart Alecs
  • 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

Day Nine: Red Lodge, MT to White Suphur Springs, MT

On the road again, we head north out of Red Lodge and cross the Yellowstone River at Columbus, MT.
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)

smart Alecs:
  • 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.

Day Eight: Red Lodge, MT

Back on the research trail, we drive north with Karen to the town of Fromberg, MT. In contrast to Gebo, Wyoming there is nothing left of the coal mining town of Gebo, Montana. There is, however, an interesting cemetery in this remote location. We meet the unofficial cemetery historian Melody who invites us in for ice tea and to look at her archives - photos and clippings of the area's history.
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.

Wildlife Watch:
  • jack rabbits, Western meadowlarks and magpies at Gebo Cemetery

Monday, July 07, 2008

Happy 10th Birthday smart car!

10 Years Of The Smart ForTwo: Compact Model Celebrates Its Birthday

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

Day Seven: Red Lodge, Montana

Staying at the historic Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge which is recovering from the Rodeo and Fourth of July celebrations.
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.

Day Six: Thermopolis, WY to Red Lodge, Montana

Heading north from Thermopolis, we arrive in Cody, WY, just as the Fourth of July parade is starting. We grab some coffee and observe a truly "cultural experience". There are plenty of vintage vehicles, horses and some marching bands. We meet a gentleman on stilts dressed as Uncle Sam as he's been doing for over 40 years. He's fascinated by the car and says,"Let us know when you're coming down next time and we'll put you in the parade".
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)

smart Alecs:
  • 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.
Wildlife Watch:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Day Five: Gillette, WY to Thermopolis, WY

The scenery of the badlands and the black hills of South Dakota were wonderful, but nothing prepared us for the majestic landscape of Bighorn National Forest and Big Horn Mountains.
We stop for coffee at Seney's drugstore and soda fountain in Buffalo, WY. Not only is the decor retro, so are the prices - 57 cents for a cup of coffee.
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)

smart Alecs:

  • 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".
Wildlife Watch:
  • 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

Day Four: Chamberlain, SD to Gillette, WY

Yesterday we needed sunblock and air conditioning as the temperature soared to 98 F (37 C). Today we needed an umbrella and defogger as there were scattered thundershowers. The weather didn't stop us from enjoying spectacular scenery in Badlands National Park and the Black Hills. We did a "drive-by" viewing of Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument.
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).

smart Alecs:
  • 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!
Wildlife Watch:
  • 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

Day Three: Albert Lea, MN to Chamberlain, SD

The Wild West Tour is starting to feel like the Route 66 Tour of 2005. When we stop for diesel at Blue Earth, MN we discover a colossal statue of the Jolly Green Giant. We go looking for coffee in Jackson, MN, and find Reggie's Cinema Barista in the Historic State Theatre.
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).

smart Alecs:
  • 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 :-)"
Wildlife Watch:
  • many ducks dabbling in the rapids and basking on rocks at Sioux Falls

Monday, June 30, 2008

Day Two: Hampshire, IL to Albert Lea, MN

It's the unexpected gems that dazzle you on a road trip. When we get to Taliesin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, we find that tour tickets are sold out but we enjoy a DVD presentation about the history of the estate in the visitor's centre. We head into the nearby town of Spring Green, Wisconsin and find the Chamber of Commerce and the M & I Bank [pictured here] designed by William Wesley Peters, an associate of Wright's.
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).

smart Alecs:
  • 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.
Wildlife Watch:
  • 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

Day One: Home to Hampshire, IL

Left home at 6:00 am, having packed the smart car the night before. No problems on the 401 westbound to Windsor where we get in line for the border crossing at 10:25 and cleared customs by 11:10. We by pass Detroit heading south through Michigan & Indiana and loop around the south end of Lake Michigan and Chicago (seen here) on the I90 toll road.
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).

smart Alecs:

  • 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."

Wildlife Watch:

  • 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
View map of tour here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Wild West Tour

Trudi is packed up and ready to roll at sunrise tomorrow as we head westward out of Ontario into the states at Detroit, Michigan.
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

Smart Fortwo ED: It’s a total shock – I love it

To her surprise,Vicki Butler-Henderson gets a huge buzz from the new Smart
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

smart edition limited one

The smart edition limited one is now available for all those who seek that certain something extra while appreciating the comfort of the smart fortwo passion. Available as a coupé or cabriolet, it combines an exclusive colour scheme with a mix of high-quality materials to great effect - both inside and out. View e-brochure here.
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

Monday, May 12, 2008

Some get it, some don't

Wired for smart in economy stakes. However there seems to be a general air of disappointment in the US about the economy of the gas-engined smart. Diesel anybody?
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.

No oil required

Renault's new electric Megane unplugged in Israel. More in The Economist.