Friday, December 18, 2009

Smart roundup

The smart electric car is on its way according to the National Post. While the FT reports on a hookup with Renault and there are optimistic sales forecasts from the Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Business smarts 37 & 38: Target Park & Reprodux

Target Park operates over 30 Parking lots in the GTA and offers "Park and Wash" and monthly parking rate options.

Reprodux is a full service printing and document management company (scanning, archiving, large format printing, laminating) with eight locations across the GTA.

Photos by RLT

Monday, August 24, 2009

Business smarts 35 & 36: fortwo in Spain

Business smarts 33: Sevilla Gym , Seville, Spain

Business smarts 34: Miroplata, Cordoba, Spain.
The url is no longer active. Miroplata was or is a jewelery and watch retailer.

An early smart, Seville, Spain: the mottled green body panels were offered on the 1998 model.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Known as Trixis (tricycle + taxis), these 21 speed trikes are assisted by a 250W electric engine which is integrated into the front axle. Fit, friendly and multiligual "Trixistas" take one or two passengers around the sites of Malaga, Spain.
These ladies were fueling up between tours.
See them on Spanish TV at youtube .

Friday, August 21, 2009

Goupil G3

Goupil manufactures a range of light utility vehicles at its plant in Aigillon in southwest France. This "tipper with lambo doors" was photographed while on clean up duty in the centre of Cordoba, Spain. Only 1.1 m (3.6 ft) wide with a 3 m (9.8 ft) turning radius it's ideal for narrow streets in historic European cities and towns.
For details go here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Casalini Sulky

With its unusual all-steel body work and tubular steel frame, the Casalini Sulky 3-wheeler microcar made its debut in 1975. In 1980 it gained a fourth wheel and was rebadged as a Bretta or David.
The company, founded in 1939 by C. M. Casalini, still operates in Piacenza, a city of approximately 100,000, in northern Italy. The current Sulky has a two cylinder Mitsubishi engine. Find out more here.

Spotted in Lagos, Portugal this Sulky is missing its front bumper and faux grille.
No known relationship to the Casal company.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Aixam and Microcar

Aixam - Mega, founded in 1983, is based in Aix-les-Bains, on the shore of Lac du Bourget in France's Rhône-Alpes region. The Crossline [above] and Super Luxe [below] were spotted in the hill town of Mijas, Spain.

Microcar, founded in 1984, is brand of the Bénéteau Group, a yacht and boat-building company with a hundred year of history, based in Croix-de-Vie, a seaside resort on the Atlantic 70 km west of Nantes. Both of these MC1 cars were photographed at Tavira, Portugal.

Although these companies are at opposite ends of France, they have the commitment to making fuel efficient city runabouts in common. Some Aixam and Microcar models can be driven without a license in some European countries.

For more information see: Aixam, Microcar
Pics by RLT.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Forza Italia

This Ape 50, seen at a market in Bari, Italy, was photographed by SCOOT follower Ron while on holiday last month.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Three wheels on my wagon

The Piaggio Ape is not the only three-wheeler on Portuguese roads it seems. We spotted these other vehicles - but would we ever find out what they were? I owned a half-share in a Reliant way back when so I was determined to find out.

The first one was on display in a park in Sagres, on the coast, languishing in the salty air on a hot day. It reminded me of the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. I noted that it had a German Zündapp motor. After considerable research on the internet we found out that it is a Famel Tricarro which came fitted with a 50cc Zündapp motor. Famel, based in Águeda, Portugal, was one of the most successful makers of motorized 3-wheelers from the 1960s to the 1980s. After Portugal joined the EEC the company filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

The second one photographed in Tavira, similar but not the same, is a Motalli - thought to be a TR2 model. The Motalli lives on it seems.

Thirdly the one without a cabin is a Casal from Aveiro, named for João Casal, picture also taken in Tavira. The company is defunct, going bankrupt in February 2000.

Words and pics by RLT.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Go Ape!

Fools and Horses delivery van,
Lagos, Portugal

While it may be difficult for Canadians to believe, there are many vehicles in Europe that make the smart car look bulky in comparison. Piaggio, makers of the Vespa (Italian for wasp) scooter, have been producing three-wheeled Ape (pronounced Ah-pey, Italian for bee) vehicles since 1948. We spotted quite an assortment of Ape models in Spain, Gibraltar and Portugal. Like the name suggests, they are the workers of the Piaggio line.

Monchique, Portugal

Municipal works vehicle,
Los Boliches, Spain

Gibraltar Confectionary delivery van,

At the town market,
Tavira, Portugal

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Smart’s top of the Three

Parent firm Mercedes plans three-seater brother to ForTwo

When it comes to sporty Smarts, could three be the magic number? Auto Express has uncovered these amazing drawings, recently filed with the European patent office by the Mercedes-owned company. And they show a three-seater car!
Although there’s no official word on the fresh model, it’s expected to be Mercedes’ answer to small but space-efficient newcomers such as the Toyota iQ and imminent rivals from BMW and Audi. Replacing the slow-selling Smart Roadster and Coupé – axed back in 2005 – the model would sit above the ForTwo and offer a more practical and flexible sporty vehicle potentially badged ForThree.

Read full story here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

smart spotting in Europe

On a three week tour in Europe we spotted countless smart fortwos, 6 roadsters, 1 crossblade and 20 smart forfours. Produced at the NedCar factory at Born, Netherlands between April 2004 and June 2006, the forfour shares some 50% of its components with the Mitsubishi Colt still in production there. We took photos of these examples at Gibraltar[above]; Seville, Spain [below]; and the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, near Portimão, Portugal [bottom].

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bellier Divane

Spotted at Le Mans, France by RLT. Photo by Colin Marsh.
Bellier Official Website

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Micro-car comparo

Tiny motors in the Great White North
By Mark Atkinson

There are some things that you should never do in the middle of winter, especially in Canada. Sun-tanning, water skiing, and expecting a race track outside of Hamilton, Ont. to be clear and usable to drive non-snow-tire-equipped city cars around in anger are three that come to mind easily.
But that was one of the driving forces behind assembling four of the smallest, weirdest vehicles to hit Canadian roads in a bizarre sort of group test designed to discover which one of these microscopic mobiles was best suited to our wild climate.
Of the four contenders, two are immediately recognizable: the fashionable Mini Cooper and miniature Smart fortwo. The others look like they've come straight out of the future ... and the '60s: the egg-like Mitsubishi iCar and the retro-styled Nissan Pao.

See how they stacked up - read full article here.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

GM to sell Saturn to Penske

Penske Automotive Group, owned by racecar legend Roger Penske, will buy GM's castoff brand.
By David Goldman and Peter Valdes-Dapena, staff writers - Last Updated: June 5, 2009: 3:54 PM ET
NEW YORK ( -- Bankrupt automaker General Motors Corp. announced Friday that it will sell its Saturn unit to car dealership operator Penske Automotive Group.
Penske (PAG, Fortune 500) is owned by former race car driver Roger Penske, who owns NASCAR and IndyCar racing teams.
The deal gives Penske the rights to the 19-year old brand including its five different models. GM would continue production of only the three highest-selling models: the Aura sedan, and the Vue and Outlook cross-over SUVs, for the next two years. The Saturn Sky and Astra models will be discontinued.
Penske, which has no Saturn dealerships in its network, will act only as a distributor for Saturn cars and parts to the brand's dealer network. Like almost all car dealerships in the U.S., Saturn dealerships are independently owned businesses.
Penske has no plans to open any Saturn dealerships, said Anthony Pordon, senior vice president at Penske Automotive.
The arrangement is similar to the deal under which Penske distributes Daimler AG's tiny Smart car in the United States. Penske does operate a small number of its own Smart dealerships, however, in addition to handling wholesale deliveries of the car to other dealerships.
The deal, which GM expects to be completed in October, would save more than 13,000 jobs at Saturn and its roughly 350 dealers nationwide. All of Saturn's dealerships sell only Saturn vehicles, so they are reliant on the brand's continuation for their survival.
View source.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

This smart car delivers big smiles

Hartville, Ohio - Guy Hufstetler of Hartville’s State Farm Insurance is handing out smiles.
He is driving a Mercedes Benz smart cart and people honk as he drives by. “Everybody who looks at it smiles,” said Hufstetler. “It’s like passing out smiles.”
Hufstetler said he first saw a smart car in a Pink Panther movie. The European car has been around for more than 15 years and sold in more than 36 countries. [smart fortwo has been in production since 1998]
“I thought it was funny,” said Hufstetler. “Then I saw an article that the smart car was coming to America. It’s a subsidiary of Mercedes Benz, so I thought I could never afford it.”
However, Hufstetler was surprised to learn just how inexpensive the smart car really was. A passion coupe “for two” is well-equipped for less than $15,000. “It was far and away the cheapest car I could drive, and add on the wrap and it was a no-brainer,” said Hufstetler whose vehicle includes heated leather seats and a six-CD changer.
Read full story here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Business smarts 34: Henry's

To celebrate their 100th anniversary, Henry's camera and photo are giving away a 2009 smart car.

(Their website erroneously refers to it as a fourtwo instead of a fortwo)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Business smarts 33: Air Combat Zone


Air Combat Zone puts YOU behind the controls of a high performance
F/A-18 flight simulator . If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to be a real F/A-18 pilot, now’s your chance to find out. The Air Combat Zone experience redefines entertainment to bring you the thrill of a lifetime. It’s JUST like the real thing.

Don't be mistaken: this ain’t no video game.
When you climb aboard an Air Combat Zone simulator, and settle into the ejection seat, you’ll be amazed . The live instrumentation, working Heads Up Display and replica HOTAS throttle and stick combine to convince you you’re flying a Hornet for real!

Monday, May 11, 2009

How Smart is This? Pittsburghers On Their Smart Cars

Glance up through the second-floor windows of the Mercedes-Benz dealership on Baum Boulevard and you may think you’re gazing into a playroom of oversized toys. But those cars are real. You’re looking into the showroom of Smart Center Pittsburgh, local home of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo, the littlest hot new thing on wheels.

According to general manager Gregg Szabatura, Pittsburgh’s allotment of just 200 fuel-efficient Smarts sold fast last year, in sync with rising gas prices. Despite the sagging economy, demand remains high for the 300 distinctive two-seaters earmarked for Pittsburgh this year, even though a growing number are finding their way onto the dealership’s orphan list. That’s a roster of folks eager to buy Smarts preordered by someone else who’s already made a $99 online deposit then had a change of heart.

“We don’t really do anything to drive demand for the vehicles,” says Gregg. “A lot of people who are buying these are commuting inner-city and in areas where you have condensed parking, like Oakland and Shadyside. We have a lot of baby boomers who are parking their big vehicles and using this out in the suburbs to run back and forth to the grocery store.”

Read full article here.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Credit crunch mum lives in Smart car

A desperate mum and her daughter have set up home in a Smart car after their house was repossessed in the credit crunch. Loredana Minopoli, 47, and daughter Valentina share the tiny two-seater motor in Milan, Italy, and get by for food on the 20-year-old's wages as a beautician."The seats break our backs, and the cold nights stop us sleeping. We're afraid to spend the night alone in this box so we always park near a police station," said Loredana.
Source: Croatian Times

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not so Smart move for car driver in Sandbanks

By Juliette Astrup

IT proved an expensive dash to the toilet for a driver waiting to use the Sandbanks Ferry yesterday morning.
Tony Hearn, who left his silver Smart car on the ferry slipway to spend a penny, ended up costing insurers thousands after it rolled into the sea.
Shocked witnesses saw the £7,000 mini-motor bobbing out of Poole Harbour, around 8am, heading towards the Isle of Wight.
But its inaugural voyage was a short-lived one – floating a meagre 30 metres past the Haven Hotel before sinking to the bottom of the sea.
Tony, 34, who works with autistic children in Hampshire, was left on the harbourside in disbelief, watching it disappear under the waves.

Read full story here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Belle Isle unveils its new police force and car

Belle Isle Police Department Chief John Tegg shows the newest
patrol car, a Smart Car, on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. Belle Isle's new Police
Department may be small, but its patrol car is even smaller. It's a 2-seat Smart
Car, and it's designated number is .5. "It's .5 because is not quite a
full-sized car," Tegg said. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Orlando Sentinel / April
15, 2009)

BELLE ISLE, FLORIDA - Police Chief John Tegg bends his 6-foot, 280-pound frame into the smallest official police car most folks have ever seen, pulling his knees up around the steering wheel until he can push back the seat. He insists that he's perfectly comfortable.
Along with formally introducing Belle Isle to its new police force this afternoon, Tegg is showing off the pride of the department -- what he says is the first Smart Car police vehicle.The fuel-sipping, diminutive two-seater looks more like a golf cart with lights and sirens than the sentry of the road.
"One fella told me he's not sure he'd pull over for this little thing," Tegg said. "I said you'd better if you know what's good for you."

Read full story here.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Designed by George Barris, one of the designers of the original Batmobile, the Batsmart features trademark high-mounted rear wings, a rear jet exhaust, roof-mounted flutes and vertical doors.

Monday, March 30, 2009

First U.S. site for Smart car2go concept is Austin, Texas

It might be the oil-rich state, but Texas will be the first U.S. home for Daimler’s innovative, environmentally aware car2go pay-as-you-go city-transport concept.
The concept has just moved from the pilot phase to a full-time business for the 120,000 residents of Ulm, Germany, and Daimler has announced that 200 car2go Smart Fortwos will flood downtown Austin this fall.
This isn’t the first car-sharing scheme in the United States, but it might be one of the simplest, and it’s backed by the auto industry’s oldest name. Daimler’s idea for car2go is to make driving through traffic-clogged cities as cheap as talking on a mobile phone.
Loosely based on Paris’s noted Velib city bicycle system, Ulm dwellers or visitors can drive away in any car2go vehicle for 19 cents a minute by showing the car a chip attached to their licenses.
“The idea is that when you want a car, you just take it, and when you’ve finished with the car, you just leave it,” car2go project manager Robert Henrich, said. He said it’s a free-flowing system and you never have to return the car to where you picked it up. “So if you want to cross the city, you just take a car, cross the city and then leave it.”

Source: AutoWeek - Read full article here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chloride, Arizona

While on holiday in Las Vegas, Nevada we kept our eyes open for smart cars. During our five day tour, the only one we spotted was this 2008 in the ghost town of Chloride, Arizona. Photo RLT.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Smart’s ForTwo is ready to grow!

Extra doors and seats make favourite an A1 competitor
Near-identical Smart tries to triumph where ForFour failed.

The Smart ForTwo is growing – and here’s the picture to prove it! Auto Express has learned that Mercedes is planning to add a pair of rear doors and extra seats to its famous city car.
Doubling the Smart’s carrying capacity to four people, the new variant will give the range some added practicality, letting it compete with an upcoming raft of desirable small cars such as Audi’s A1 and BMW’s Isetta. No name has yet been give to the newcomer, but it’s likely to carry the ForTwo +2 tag, indicating that it’s very much an addition to the ForTwo line-up.
As you can see from this illustration, the new model is near identical to the two-seater, apart from a pair of neatly integrated small rear doors. These reverse-hinged units give access to two individual chairs in the back. Underneath the skin, the car features the same rear-wheel-drive layout as the regular ForTwo with the engine under the boot floor, but with a stretched wheelbase giving extra legroom.

Read full article here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Business smarts 32: Fat Flyers

Fat Flyers offer a comprehensive design and printing service, specializing in promotional flyer design & print. Whether you require a flyer to promote your club night or small business, Fat Flyers will provide a professional, efficient and friendly service on time every time.

Photo taken in Lewes, East Sussex, England by RLT.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Business smarts 31: City Flitz

Rent some CityFlitz wheels for $1/Day!

Toronto: CityFlitz is the brand-new lifestyle advertising company. We use fleets of fuel-efficient and cool MINI Coopers, MINI Cooper Clubmans, Smart cars, VW Beetles and Toyota Prius as trendy mobile billboards. Advertisers sponsor the car rental rate when we wrap the cars in attention grabbing brand graphics. This is why we can rent out our cars to you for a sensational $1 per Day!

Friday, February 20, 2009

iPhone fizzles at Toronto Autoshow

smart stand at Toronto Autoshow 2009To Toronto Autoshow where a girl on the smart stand has been hired to take competition entries on an iPhone. After two failed attempts she gives up. We can enter the competition via the web at home, but the system fails to take our entry. We'd like to win the smart car, a prize celebrating the tenth anniversary of the car, but our chances are slim it seems.
The show is generally very quiet on the Thursday, particularly in the Skydome, and experienced stand staff point to reduced attendance and less "buzz" compared to previous years. Every manufacturer is trying to adopt a green pose but with little real justification. For example the Saturn Astra needs a diesel option, like its European counterpart. Hybrids and EVs were everywhere, but you have to wonder about the potential market for these cars. The third-generation Toyota Prius was on show with a Pontiac Aztec like rear-end. I've yet to be convinced that the Prius has ever turned a profit. An example of the electric car trend is the Mitsubishi MiEV shown below.
Mitsubishi MiEV at Toronto Autoshow 2009
Words and pics by RLT.