Saturday, October 04, 2014

PARIS MOTOR SHOW: smart's local future unclear

The new ForTwo and Forfour promise to be better cars – but can they be cheaper too?
The third generation smart range made its motor show debut in Paris overnight, but the chances of the new ForTwo and reborn ForFour making it to Australia hang on "robust" negotiations that should be resolved one way or another by the end of 2014.

The Mercedes-Benz-owned city-car brand has been financially problematic globally and a misfire in Australia, where just 67 have been sold to the end of August 2014.

However, the new triple-cylinder, rear-drive, two and four-seat smarts, which were first shown to media in Berlin last July, shape up as a significant improvement compared to their predecessors, which is a key reason Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific is still trying to make a difficult business case work.

Read full article here. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Piaggio in the Piazzas of Italy

Better known in North America for its Vespa (Wasp) scooters, Piaggio has been making Ape (Bee) pickup trucks and panel vans since 1948. In Italy, they are ubiquitous at piazza markets and shops as their size and versatility are ideally suited to the needs of vendors and navigating narrow streets and tight parking spots.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

smart Roadster, Padova, Italy

smart produced about 43 000 roadsters between 2003 and 2006. Sales were meeting projections but warranty claims due to leakage problems halted production. This one we spotted in Padova, Italy has a removable Targa roof. An electric powered soft-top was another option available. With a six-speed automatic transmission and rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout the roadster's fuel economy is about 45 miles per Imperial gallon.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Business smarts 54: Sm+ools, Padova, Italy

Sm+ools is a private, gaming club in Padova, Italy.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Business smarts 53: Fondo Casa, Monza, Italy

Fondo Casa is an Italian real estate company with offices in several cities. This smart belongs to their Monza office. 

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Car-free Zermatt

We arrived in Zermatt via the Glacier Express train and were greeted at the station by a fleet of electric taxis, the only vehicles allowed in town. Our hotel was in walking distance so we didn't need to catch a lift. Tourists wishing to visit this ski resort town by car will find that they need to part 5 km away at Täsch and continue their journey by train.  These transporters are manufactured in Switzerland by Stimbo,  and Jumbo-Garage and Italy by Simai .

Friday, August 01, 2014

Swiss Post delivers via electric scooter

In a bid to reduce CO2 emissions, Swiss Post aims to replace its 7500 scooters with an electric version, like the one above spotted in St Moritz, by 2016. These funky looking 3-wheelers are safer, have larger carrying capacity and can go 20 km (12.4 miles) on a single charge. Photo by RLT.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ladies First

Some underground garages in Europe have designated spots for women to park in . These spaces are well lit, near to exits and are covered by security cameras. I found the example above in St Moritz, Switzerland. Occasionally municipalities invite scorn by creating what are viewed as discriminatory parking rules, as did Triberg, Germany when it designated "difficult" spots for men's use. More here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kamoo Smile

Kamoo is a Swiss electric car company that offers a variety of models for sale. This funky looking"Smile" is a two seater with a top speed of 110 kph (68 mph). It takes just 90 minutes to charge and comes with either a hard top or targa top, seen above. Read more here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Swiss Efficiency

In Lucerne, Switzerland I photographed these three fortwos  that belong to Rebasmen Elecktroplan, a company that creates "ecologically sound electrical engineering systems". See their website for more info.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Autolib "Libre Comme L'air" electric car sharing

  • cars share program started in 2011 in Paris
  • Bluecar is a front wheel drive electric four-seater hatchback with a  basic interior
  • 1,800 Bluecars are available at 670 kiosks in Paris
  • the 660 pound (300 kg) lithium ion batteries are made in Brittany and Montreal
  • vehicle range is 155 mi (250 km) in urban use and 93 mi (150 km) on highway
  • more than 40,000 people have joined the car share system
Read about it on Autolib's website

Friday, July 25, 2014

smart parking in Paris

You can see fortwos on lots of street corners of Paris, parked where not many other vehicles can fit. The Renault Twizy and Fiat 500 can do the same. This fourfour I spotted is actually resting on the bumper of the fortwo behind it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Renault Twizy

Production of this two-seater electric vehicle started in 2012 at the Renault plant in Valladoid, Spain. In Europe it's classified as a heavy quadcycle and it has a 100nkm or 62 mile range. Read more on Wikipedia or the Renault UK website

This Twizy belongs to the Château of Versailles and is ideal for driving its 7 ha or 17 acre grounds.

I photographed this Twizy on the Rue de Lisbonne, Paris.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Car crash economics

An excerpt from Andrew Frankel's Road Cars column,
MotorSport Magazine, December 2013, page 40.

"Fascinating if somewhat gruesome reading this month from Bernstein Research, in the form of the greatest loss-making model lines among European car manufacturers. Way out in front is the original Smart ForTwo which between 1997 and 2006 managed to lose Daimler-Benz a simply extraordinary ₤ 2.8 billion.  More staggering still is that this adds up to ₤ 3782 per vehicle, approximately half the car's retail price at the time.  

Then again, if you care to add up losses on a per-vehicle basis the Bugatti Veyron is in a league all by itself, unapproached I suspect by any other car in history. If you thought ₤ 1 million was a lot to ask for a  mere car, consider that for everyone sold, Volkswagen has shouldering a loss of  3.9 million."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Elio Motors

Sour Apple

Elio is not a fling. It is not a novelty.

It is the product of a mobile society naturally evolving to a more efficient and practical form of transportation.
Let’s look at the facts and realities of the world we live in:
  • Gas today is at an all-time high
  • Space is becoming a smaller and smaller commodity and we’re being crowded off our roads and bumped and dinged out of our parking lots
  • Cars cost more than the average house did only a few decades ago
Traditional personal transportation isn’t working like it used to. We need a new way of getting around.
That’s when a car enthusiast, a visionary, a man with a dream named Paul Elio got an idea. A simple, brilliant idea. To create a vehicle for today’s generation of drivers that addressed their transportation needs and the world’s new realities.