The Smart Car in America

by : dennis james

Smart is a subsidiary of Daimler AG that creates the "smart" model, a two or four seat vehicle that is aimed especially for urban use. The first Smart vehicles were produced by the Swatch Swiss watch manufacturer.

They wanted a very small car that could be easy to drive and park in the crowded European cities. They also wanted the car to be cheap enough for young people to afford it. From 2006 onward, all the Smart models are being created and sold by the Mercedes-Benz automobile group, while intended as a cheap and affordable mini, the Smart was too expensive for young people and it became somewhat as a fashion statement. There are several Smart models sold: the Fortwo, the Forfour and until 2005 there was a cabriolet model.

In many parts of Europe the Smart, especially the Fortwo model (as its name implies, it can carry only two passengers) was a success, while the Fortwo model was taken out of production recently. However, many people are asking if the Smart car could become a success in America, the home country of full size SUVs and powerful V-8 engines.

Until recently, the Smart models could not be imported legally in the US as they did not meet the American emissions regulations. All of the models that could be found on the market were modified so they could pass the emissions tests.

However, the Mercedes-Benz automobile group has developed new engines for their 2008 model, so it could be sold throughout the world. The question remains though if the US market is ready for the Smart car.

Its supporters say it is the best city car in the world, as it is only 106.1 in long and it can be parked almost anywhere in the city center. Its small engine is powerful enough for urban needs, however it lacks the power for long highway cruises. The smart car has a titanium structure, making it the safest mini car on the market.

However, there are people that say the Smart has poor value as it has several disadvantages. First, it can only carry two people (the driver and a single passenger), while some of its competitors car carry five people in full comfort. In the same time its relatively short wheelbase (73.5 in) means that the smart car is very uncomfortable, especially on poor roads. The first models were also speed limited, as they could become unstable as high speeds. However, the 2008 model is safer, more comfortable and fun to drive.

Its critics say that despite its 1L engine, the smart car does not boost a significant fuel economy and the Toyota Prius offers significantly lower fuel consumption, especially around town.

However, the Toyota Prius is a hybrid model and among the non-hybrids, the smart car has been declared the most fuel efficient car in the U.S. in the Federal Government's 2008 Fuel Economy Guide. The smart car can be a very fun car to drive, especially if you do not consider being in such a small car a major inconvenience.