Things considered a big deal in Europe but not in the States - Part 3: the Smart Car
In case you've been asleep "˜til now, we've covered Nutella and Eurovision thus far in this feature. Today, I thought we'd explore another European fav, the Smart Car. With its sleek design, low-ish sticker price, and gas-friendly attitude, the pint-size vehicles are hugely popular in Europe, especially in cities like Milan that are rich with old-world twisty, curvy streets originally designed for horse and carriage. Europeans also dig "˜em because parking is much easier to find as you see in the photos below.
First called a Swatchmobile by Swiss Swatch inventor, Nicolas Hayek, when he designed it, the Smart Car is a compact, 2-seat, 1,800 lb-er that measures all of 8.8 feet in length. That's almost 4 feet less than the Mini Cooper, for those who need perspective. If you're wondering about the name, it's actually an acronym: Smart stands for Swatch Mercedes ART.
Until now, Americans haven't been very Smart-savvy. But that might change real soon as the car will be readily available here starting in 2008. In a Feel Art Again vein, Mangesh once suggested we should team up with Daimler Chrysler (one of the companies that will be importing them) and employ the catch-phrase: Drive Smart Again.
Along those lines, I put this question to our smart readers: do you think a nation in love with its SUVS and not-so-miniVans will embrace the Smart Car? Or do you think most people will be afraid to get in one? (What with all those other monsters on the road?.)
I can tell you that WIRED mag just voted it "Best of Test" in their annual product test issue. Also: after the car's appearance in The Da Vinci Code, ZAP, a niche motor vehicle company that markets alternative-fuel cars, received tens of thousands of emails from prospective buyers. I can also tell you that the base sticker price is planned at around $12,000! So will the Smart Car conquer the land of the large? We want to know.