Smart Fortwo Is Coming – Will You Be Buying?

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Once considered one of those “tiny European things”, the smart fortwo is coming to America in 2008, but will America be buying? In the land of the Hummer and the giant school bus sized commuter car, will this tiny alternative be able to take hold? Me thinks yes, and here is why.

First off, the price. New car prices have skyrocketed in recent years…my first new car in 1992 was a VW GTI that cost $11,000. The same car today costs about $20,000. A Honda Accord, once the standard bearer of the average American family, now costs $25-$30,000…which honestly is out of reach of a lot of buyers. The new smart fortwo starts at under $15,000 and comfortably seats a couple of people. How often do you need to carry more people than that?

My Mini cost $23,500 and barely seats more than 2 people. I average about 25 MPG around the city here, while the smart car will average over 40MPG. It also has a top speed of 90 MPH, but really, I don’t know how comfortable I would be going that fast in this car. But cruising along at 55 would be perfectly fine.

This car would be ideal for the average commuter who drives by themselves to work every day, a single person, or a couple with no kids. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have had to fit more than 1 other person in my car in the last 6 months. And for those times, just have your friends drive!

As for the environment, a lot of the car is recyclable. From their site:

So we analyzed alternatives and chose 100% recyclable synthetics for things like our dashboards and wheel housing covers. We brainstormed how to reduce the number of components and how to assemble them. Examples include our dashboard air system that was reduced from twenty separate pieces to one single molded part. Even our exterior door panels can be easily changed and recycled. When you own a smart, you’ll find yourself pointing things like these out to your friends – they’ll become part of your environmental statement.

Since the car is not available here in the U.S. yet, they have started a reservation list that for $99 you can add your name to an interest list so you can reserve yourself a car. The list opens to everyone on April 2nd which is right around the corner. Even though we just got rid of a car, maybe I will add my name to the list as the cars won’t be available to next year anyway and who knows what situation we will be in by then. And if I decide I do not want the car, I can get my money back.

Anyway, I think the smart fortwo is a cool little car. I used to see them all the time when I traveled to France for work and it seemed like everyone had one. And for under $15,000, it seems like a steal for A. a new car and B. one that gets 40mpg around town. Not bad. And think of the impact on the environment if a lot of people started driving these!

technorati: MPG, car, smart fortwo

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  1. Unfortunately Smart cars purportedly suffer from poor reliability ratings . Catostrophic transmission failures seem to be the most common complaint from owners. For slightly lower mileage with much greater utility and better availability the VW Fox (2 door Golf) might be worth a look in the same price range.

    Perhaps if superminis take off in the States, Toyota will import their Aygo . The gasoline version is rated at a combined 51 MPG (US) and the diesel version is rated at a combined 57 MPG (US) with low CO2 Emissions [g/km] of 109. The diesel version of the Echo has only a slightly lower MPG.

    The Mini Cooper is available in Europe with a diesel engine (“Cooper D”) and is rated at a combined 54 MPG (US). Now that the US has clean diesel, there is no excuse for BMW not importing it. Ford, Chevrolet (Vauxhall), and Hyundai all have cars rated at 52+ MPG (US) which could be imported to America.

    Auto manufacturers are waiting to see if the American public is ready to follow Europe in embracing clean diesel, and smaller cars. In places like the UK where gas prices are now at $6.75/ US gallon, fuel economy is paramount. Most Americans who complain about $3/gallon gas prices seem to lack an understanding of the true cost of petrochemicals (besides pump prices, remember the ‘hidden’ costs: US->War=US->Taxes->Americans).

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