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Smart Cars for ZAP on Their Way; DaimlerChrysler Leaning toward Direct Entry

26 February 2006

Smart2

G&K Auto Conversion is completing the conversion of several hundred Smart Cars at its facility in Santa Ana, California to be purchased and distributed by ZAP. In addition, G&K will be delivering eighty-five Smart Cars owned by ZAP within the week.

G&K is in agreement with ZAP to modify the DaimlerChrysler Smart Cars for US standards and ZAP expects to deliver cars to ZAP licensed dealers shortly. The two-seater city car uses a 60hp, 698-cc 3-cylinder, rear-mounted turbo engine.

ZAP, which announced the Americanized version of the Smart car in February 2005, built up a large order backlog, but has had some issues with fulfillment. (Earlier post.)

G&K has obtained all necessary EPA and DOT certifications for model year 2005 and 2006 Smart Cars to meet US forty-five State standards. Certification for the remaining five States—California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont—is underway.

News reports from Florida and Colorado have announced two separate business ventures claiming to be importing Smart Cars. G&K owner George Gemayel, states that G&K is the only entity approved to import and modify Smart Cars for the US market. G&K does not have a distribution agreement with the Florida or Colorado businesses.

Separately, however, DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche told the German newspaper Handelsblatt that the company is leaning in favor of launching the Smart minicar brand in the United States.

It is now more likely that we will decide in favor of, rather than against the US. The last word is, however, not yet spoken.

February 26, 2006 in City car | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Really, how much would it take for there to be a plug-in, flex-fuel hybrid Smart Car for city commuters? With LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries, most driving would be all-electric miles.

The basic structure of the Smart Car allows for the gasoline engine to be replaced by an electric engine or hybrid engine for that matter without much ado. The reason: The rear axle and the engine, which is located beneath the "trunk" form one compact unit. So if you want an electric Smart Car, that's basically all you need to replace.

However, the question if a hybrid version is economically feasible, is a totally different one, as with small cars there is certain price point, where people lose interest that you have to stay below.

Where would you put the battery? The passenger seat? :)

There's still plenty of space underneath the passenger cabin, as a fully electric version was originally envisioned, but hasn't yet materialized.

See this discussion on fuel mileage for the Zap at http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/03/ldquowersquore_.html#comments

We've been here before and it appears the SMART, as modified for the U.S. doesn't get very good gas mileage. Other than the cuteness factor, can't see any reason to buy this over a hybrid, or for that matter, other economy cars available on the market.

If the Honda FIT comes out, especially in hybrid form, purchase of the SMART would be clearly rediculous, except, as I said, for the cuteness factor.

. . .and ease of parking factor.

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