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.