Wednesday, November 23, 2011

World’s Cheapest Car, Tata Nano, Gets More Features, Better Economy


We may have unfairly called the Indian-built Tata Nano “unusually combustible” last week, but there’s no denying that the world’s cheapest car is responsible for helping tens of thousands of Indians get behind the wheel of their first car. Now the diminutive Tata Nano has just undergone its first major revision since its release in 2008, offering an increase of power, more standard features, and a headline-grabbing fuel economy of 59.7 miles per gallon.

Just like its predecessor, the upgraded Tata Nano features a simple 0.6 liter rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive transmission. But Tata’s engineers have managed to squeeze extra power from the small unit, harnessing 50 horsepower from an engine which previously only produced 46 horsepower.

Read full article here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

EVs: Drivers demand range, convenience

Nissan's latest electric concept car, the Pivo 3, was unveiled in Tokyo last Saturday. Whether it will allay consumer fears is debateable.
By Peter Gorrie - Toronto Star
Two weeks ago, I asked how much range an electric vehicle must have before you’d consider buying one.
From your responses, carmakers must dramatically improve range, but charging convenience is equally important.
“Although today’s electric vehicles may suffice for commuting, they’re woefully inadequate for longer trips,” writes John Pereira. “How do I get a five-minute fill or 80 per cent recharge during the trip?”
Ron Robinson, who drives a Mini, notes electric-vehicle owners could rent for longer trips, but that “still adds to my costs as well as the trouble it takes to pick up and return the vehicle. He awaits “an infrastructure to support battery swaps because I am not going to sit for a few hours on a trip to wait for a battery charge.”
“I really want a vehicle I can drive from, say, Toronto to Montreal,” writes Alister Sutherland. “I suppose one can always rent a conventional car for trips like that, but I want to use the one I paid for.”
Gunther Petersen, of Barrie, says his minimum range requirement is 500 kilometres. “As well, you have to take winter driving into consideration, first to keep the windshield clear, and second to heat the car’s interior. I have spent many winter nights driving in Ontario. Only a big, fat, fully charged battery would be acceptable.”
Andre Tonelli agrees on 500 kilometres. “But the real question is: How much does it cost to recharge?”
“I will be persuaded not by range of kilometres or even price, but rather by charging that is as fast, available and convenient as gas is now,” says Al Strickler, of Toronto.
Read full story here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mobilicity asks consumers to put a number on smart savings for chance to win year of smart cars and smart phones

Carrier marks one-year anniversary in Vancouver and Ottawa with
modern twist on the classic jelly bean guessing game

VANCOUVER AND OTTAWA, Nov. 10, 2011 /CNW/ - Mobilicity is marking its one-year anniversary with a nod to the classic jelly-beans-in-the-jar guessing game - only this modern-day guess fest isn't just sweet, it's smart and worth thousands of dollars in prizes.

Mobilicity's 'Get smart' contest invites Vancouverites and Ottawans to guess how much faux Mobilicity money is inside specially marked smart cars and see how much their city could save if everyone switched to Canada's smart mobile carrier's truly unlimited plans.

The closest guess in each city will win a smart fortwo one-year car lease, HTC Panache Android smartphone plus one year of Mobilicity's unlimited talk, text and data service - a total prize value of approximately $8,700 each.

"We developed Mobilicity's 'Get smart' contest to help people visualize, in a fun and memorable way, the phenomenal amount of money Mobilicity can save," said Chief Customer Officer Anthony Booth. "Our customers have saved a fortune with our smarter, more affordable way to use wireless," he added pointing to a few of the many Canadians who have switched to Mobilicity in the last year:

Read more:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tiny Smart car to get redesign -- but not until 2014

2012 Renault Twingo Review 585x389 2012 Renault Twingo Review
The Smart ForTwo, the smallest car for sale in the U.S. and one of the older models in the market, will finally get a redesign, Automotive News reports.

Just one problem: The new one won't show up until 2014. Until then, Mercedes-Benz, which took over U.S. distribution of its Smart in July, will have to make do.

Daimler, Mercedes' German parent, is going to develop the next two-seat Smart in conjunction with Renault, which has to find a replacement for its own tiny car, the Twingo [shown above]. Renault is a French company and the Smart is built at a plant in France.

The Smart is an ingeniously engineered little car that has gone basically unchanged for more than a decade. Before it was the Smart car, it was the Swatch car, named for the Swiss watchmaker. It has been imported into the U.S. for about three years through Penske Automotive, and now Mercedes. Mercedes has launched the first national ad campaign for the car. Lately, it has been getting more competition, too. Toyota is introducing the Scion iQ, and the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper and others also compete in the smallest-car segment.

Smart is also hinting at a new four-seat model, which won't show up until 2015. Smart made a four-seater previously, but killed it due to slow sales. Penske had one in the works in a deal with Nissan, but killed it when Mercedes took over the brand.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A real man's car

antonio garay hello kitty

NFL's San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Antonio Garay in his Hello Kitty smart car. At 6' 4" and 320 pounds Garay doesn't need to work at looking macho.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ad of the Day: Smart Car In a world of big, another auto brand wants you to think small

smart fortwo unbig tv ad
Noreen O'Leary
Remember the Smart car—that quirky European two-seater created by the auto world's most improbable partners, Swatch and Daimler-Benz? If you do, you're ahead of many other Americans, half of whom said in a recent J.D. Power survey that they have no awareness of the brand.
Back in 2008, however, there was great anticipation of the car's entry into the U.S. after its successful launch 10 years earlier in nine European countries. Cheap and fuel-efficient, a little city car with a big Daimler pedigree, the vehicle sold more than 24,000 units in the U.S. in 2008 with little ad support. With the beginning of the financial meltdown, sales plummeted, and this summer Daimler took control of the car's marketing and distribution, which had been handled by Penske Automotive Group. The German automaker hired Smart's first national partners for marketing, events, and PR, and is now launching the car's initial TV advertising.
The launch spot, via Merkley + Partners and Razorfish, is a pure awareness-building effort, underscoring the micro car's unique size in a country's whose national religion has always been "bigger is better." The agency uses lemming-like imagery showing the pervasiveness of Americans' love of that notion. The commercial ends with a lone young dissenter, who looks out his office window at a Smart vehicle and whose eyes light up as he discovers "small." The commercial uses the tagline, "Unbig. Uncar," which will evolve in future incarnations to other ideas like "Uncluttered" and "Unblah."

Read more here.
Watch video of new smart car ad here.

Daimler’s Smart Starts U.S. Marketing Campaign to Improve Model’s Image

Daimler AG (DAI)Daimler’s Smart plans to spend as much as $35 million on a new marketing campaign as the small- car brand seeks to remake its image in the U.S. after sales plummeted 76 percent over two years.
Smart, which had been distributed through Penske Automotive Group Inc. (PAG) in the U.S., switched to Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz U.S. operations on July 1 with Tracey Matura as the general manager. Sales of the brand fell to 5,927 last year from 24,622 in 2008, according to Mercedes.
“With the marketing activities that we’re going to have, we’ll see some positive momentum,” Ernst Lieb, head of Mercedes U.S. operation, said in an interview this week in Montvale, New Jersey. “The biggest problem the car has right now: Nobody knows it.”
Daimler’s attempt to reverse the Smart sales slide comes as competitors have introduced new small-car models in the U.S., including Ford Motor Co. (F)’s Fiesta subcompact, General Motors Co. (GM)’s Chevrolet Cruze and the Fiat 500, whose U.S. version is produced and sold by Chrysler Group LLC.
Read full article here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

All plastic wheels for smart car

Automotive manufacturer Daimler has teamed up with BASF to develop all plastic wheels for use on its Smart car. The concept is driven by a desire to reduce weight.

The wheels use a high performance polyamide composite with long reinforcing fibres to improve mechanical properties and give thermal and chemical stability, dynamic strength, toughness and good continuous operating characteristics. Initial product tests show the potential for the wheels to be used in production, and the material is also suitable for high-volume manufacture.
The development is part of a wider design collaboration by the two to develop the Smart car for the future, called the Fortwo. With energy efficiency and lightweight design being the key design drivers, another concept that is being assessed is having solar cells embedded in the roof.
Even in diffused light and poor light conditions the transparent dyes of the solar cells can generate enough energy to power the multimedia components and assist with climate management of the vehicle interior.
Dr. Annette Winkler, head of Smart said: "With the clear objective of greatly increasing the zero-emission range we concerned ourselves with all factors that influence this on the vehicle. This resulted in completely new concepts and materials in the areas of insulation, reflection, lightweight design and energy management.
"In conjunction with smart's revolutionary DNA, we have designed a vehicle that is so unique that we can't wait to take it out of the research laboratory and onto the roads."

Author: Justin Cunningham
View source.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Volkswagen to unveil oddest car at Frankfurt

Electric Nils city car concept makes smart fortwo look bulky

You can expect some weird concept cars to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show next week, but this single-seater Volkswagen may take the cake for the least conventional. Green Car Reports just posted pictures of the Nils city car concept, an electric vehicle under 10 feet long (shorter than a smart fortwo) and four-and-a-half feet wide. It rides on 17-inch wheels, naturally. Scared the thin body and outboard wheels won't protect you at 128 km/h? It's got a full safety cell and hazard avoidance systems, so you can feel safe in the 450-kg (1,000-lb) car. The car should have a range of about 65 kilometres, and should debut alongside the similarly different Audi Urban Concept two-seater.

View source.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Smart Forvision:a solar-powered roof with plastic wheels never looked so good

No, it's not a Micro Machine -- it's the Daimler Smart Forvision. Daimler paired up with chemicals giantBASF to improve Smart's flagship EV after being soundly trounced by the Nissan Leaf's longer range. With an emphasis on efficiency, the Forvision goes up to 20 percent further than the standard Fortwo. It has a transparent solar-panel roof which generates power to keep the cooling fans running even when stationary, see-through dashboard and clear OLEDs for internal lighting at night. BASF's wizardry helped in the development of all-plastic wheels, a super-thin heat shield and aluminum fiber paints that insulate the car but allow for GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth signals to pass through unimpeded. The concept will be unveiled properly at the Frankfurt Motor Show but check out the preview gallery and press release to learn more.

Read full article here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Third generation Smart Fortwo ditches Tesla powertrain, gains two wheeled cousin

By Dante Cesa posted Aug 17th 2011

Time and tide wait for no man, folks. Nearly nine months after delivering the first electric Fortwos tosnuggie-toting yanks, Daimler's gone and announced its faster and longer-lasting successor. It's not an entirely new car mind you, rather an extensive under the hood nip and tuck that replaces the Tesla powertrain with a more potent unit sourced from EM-motive. Up 34 horses from the previous model, the 74 horsepower EV now scoots from 0-60 in a "lively" 13 seconds -- a vast improvement over the 23.4 second (!) time of its predecessor. It's got a larger 17.6kWh battery pack too, which increases range a smidge to 87 miles. And this isn't another EV trial: it'll be produced in volume and sold (not leased) in 30 countries at an undisclosed price.

Joining the revised city dweller is the matching Smart Ebike. The electrically assisted bicycle gives meat bags a choice of four levels of laziness as it propels them 60 miles between charges. At €2,900 (or around $4,000) it's no bargain, but you didn't think transportational color coordination came cheap, did you? Expect more on both come September when they are officially unveiled at IAA Frankfurt.

View source.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Please do not try this at home

City Police Looking for Stolen smart car

Charlottetown Police Services responded to a call of vehicle theft on Grafton Sreet at 8:10 pm Friday. Complainant states she was offering her car for sale on Kijiji and allowed a male to take her vehicle for a test drive. Complainant contacted Police when male did not return with her vehicle. Vehicle is described as a 2008 Smart Car, yellow with a black stripe on each side, PEI plate YG-082, and having vin# WMEEJ31X78K186413. Anyone having information concerning this theft can contact the Charlottetown Police Service at 902-629-4172 or PEI Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS

View source.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Smart electric set to plug in next summer

Photo Slide 1
By Steve MacNaull The Canadian Press - Thu, Jul 21

KELOWNA, B.C. — Dana Sleigh pushes the pedal to the metal on the Smart electric car and gets only silent acceleration.

"I knew that’s what’s supposed to happen," said Sleigh during a recent test drive of the 100 per cent electric vehicle.

"But it’s still a bit unexpected because when you accelerate you expect all the revving and accompanying noise. I love the quiet of this car."

Sleigh of Kelowna test drove the Smart ED (electric drive) when the Smart Plugged In Tour promoting the vehicles came to the local Mercedes-Benz dealership recently. Mercedes-Benz is the maker of both the regular Smart and electric Smart cars and the vehicles are sold through their dealerships.

While the electric Smart car won’t start to be sold to the public until summer 2012, the tour is meant to bump up awareness and excitement about the brand.

Smart has an advantage in the electric car race because its gas and diesel models have already been on the market for years and people are familiar with the distinctive snub-nosed shape of the cute littletwo-seaters.

That will come in handy when the electric car market explodes next year with not only Smart coming on stream, but also the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Miev.

Read more here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fake Kombi is Subaru in Disguise

Photo by RLT

This little beauty didn't fool us for long. Hats off to the folk at La Perla for delivering the make-over.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rare Bird

Photo by RLT

We spotted this Hondy Acty in St Peter Port, Guernsey at the Val des Terres Hill Climb. This is a grey import as this vehicle is not normally seen in these parts.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Little Ligier is no racer

We spotted this Ligier microcar in Cherbourg, France. The same company that ran in Formula One 1976-1996. Photo by RLT

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Business smarts 45, 46 & 47

Photo by RLT

After spotting 15 fortwos at St Peter Port, Guernsey within an hour of arriving, I give up on counting. It's not surprising that drivers find them suitable to the narrow streets and limited parking on the island. Above are some of the "business smarts" we've seen.

Channel Islands: Alderney

During our six day visit, we count 7 or 8 fortwos including the one above at St Anne's Harbour.

Also suited to island driving is an electric GWiz made by Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Private Limited, pictured below.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Smart Crossblade Returns

Leaked patent drawings reveal Smart is working on a successor to its wacky 2001 roadster.

By Jack Rix 04th January 2011

The Crossblade is back! Introduced at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show, Smart’s quirkiest model did without doors, a roof and a proper windscreen – and these grainy design drawings prove that a spiritual successor is on the way.
Filed by Mercedes, Smart’s parent company, in mid-November last year these revealing images were leaked onto the web this week, and show the newcomer from a variety of angles.
Precious few details have emerged, but the outrageous styling tells you everything you need to know. Unlike the Crossblade which ditched conventional doors in favour of shoulder-height safety bars that swung upwards on gas struts, this new roadster keeps a conventional set of doors.
A chopped-down windscreen is designed to channel airflow over the occupant’s head, while maintaining the dramatic open-top looks. Smart’s distinctive Tridion Safety Cell keeps the structural rigidity in tact, and now forms two oversize roll hoops behind the driver and passenger’s head.
No details have emerged about if and when we’ll see the new roadster in the flesh, but a debut, initially in concept form, seems likely at the Geneva show in March.

View Source.