Directory Free Newsletter Contact Log in

European-American Topics - Cars - Smart cars

Smart cars are energy conservers
By Fritz Burmeister
Published January 2, 2007


Today, the expression “Conservation of Energy” is understood to be not just a well-known law of Physics. For decades now, the automotive industry has been pressured to design and develop high efficiency and energy conserving vehicles. Well, industry has responded, but with gas prices steadily on the increase the pressure to improve cars with high gas mileage has not stopped. Many carmakers have offered their products to the demanding driving public for smaller, efficient automobiles without sacrificing performance.

One interesting concept of small car design was published in the May issue of the “European Weekly” under the heading: “Europe’s Smart Car, will America buy it? “ The article pointed out some of the Smart Car design features such as fuel consumption of

48 mpg around town and 56 mpg on the highway. With a maximum speed governed to 84mph, higher speeds for such light weight, small cars exceed the safety limit, the carmaker Daimler-Chrysler has certainly answered the call for an energy- conserving vehicle on four wheels. Further reduction in size of its 2.5 meters in length and 1.5 meter width will likely mean to shed two of its wheels and change its name from car to motorcycle. 

The small size of the Smart Car has one other great advantage over the average size car including some of the recent small car entries by the carmakers. Short of enabling the owner to fold it up and stick it in his briefcase, the Smart Car fits and can be squeezed into the narrowest of parking spaces. While that is a distinct advantage to the European customer, European streets are narrow and parking is at a premium, this feature seems to be of less importance in America. 

Clearly, Smart Cars have not saturated the American market. Gas prices have not yet reached the level where car owners feel compelled to make a drastic vehicle change. Hybrids can be seen here and there, but to invest in a Smart Car is probably too big of a step in a downward direction for the American driver. He, who is used to the notion that “Bigger is Better,” needs more of an incentive than a gas price of $3.00 per gallon to trade down. Also, U.S. safety and emission standards restrict imports. At present only a modified version of the Smart Car, the “ Fortwo,” finds its way into the showroom. Daimler-Chrysler announced that through the dealership of “United Auto Group” Smart Cars will be available by early 2008, according to “Motor Trend Magazine.” Starting with an updated version of the “Fortwo” other models will be offered. 

It will be interesting to see if Americans can be enticed to give up their roomy street cruisers and invest in what might be the smallest car on earth. No doubt, it will help towards independency on foreign oil imports as well as ease the drain on the pocketbook. Attitudes change. Who would have thought in 1955 that the VW Bug would make such a tremendous hit in America? That should give a hint that “Smaller maybe Smarter.”


© 2006 All content property of European Weekly unless where otherwise accredited