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DaimlerChrylser To Bring Next-Gen Smart Car to US in 1Q 2008

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The current smart fortwo.

DaimlerChrysler will bring the successor to the smart fortwo to the US market in 1Q 2008, according to Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management DaimlerChrysler AG. The new smart will be distributed by international automotive retailer UnitedAuto Group (UAG), which will establish between 30 and 50 smart dealerships initially.

The successor to the smart fortwo will be available in US markets in three models. These will not initially include the diesel, although both diesel and a micro-hybrid are potential future products, according to UAG Chairman Roger Penske.

Following the success of the smart fortwo in Europe with more than 750,000 attracted customers and the increasing demand for affordable and fuel efficient small cars in the USA, we are now bringing this new kind of mobility to US cities. The time has never been better for this—and I am convinced that the smart fortwo as an innovative, ecological and agile city car will soon become just as familiar a sight on the streets of New York, Miami or Seattle, as it is today in Rome, Berlin or Paris.

—Dieter Zetsche

The announcement was expected, although DaimlerChrysler reportedly had considered cancelling the smart line. Earlier this year, DaimlerChrysler absorbed the smart organization into the Mercedes group, and decided to focus on the smart fortwo car, cancelling the planned production of the smart forfour. (Earlier post.)

DaimlerChrysler has sold 750,000 smart cars worldwide since their introduction in 1998. In Canada, 4,000 smarts were sold last year—a major increase above the target of 1,500 the company had set.

Pricing is not established, although Penske said he expects to sell the car below $15,000.

UnitedAuto Group is the second-largest auto dealer in the US and is based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. UAG operates 296 retail automotive franchises, representing 40 different brands, and 27 collision repair centers.

Comments

Sid Hoffman

Anyone with even the smallest knowledge of physics knows that when you have two objects of equal velocity that collide head-on, one weighing 1500 pounds and one weighing 4500 pounds, the heavier vehicle will experience about 1/3 the g-forces suffered as the smaller vehicle. g-forces are a huge contributor to death and ESPECIALLY strain injuries, even with belts, airbags, and a strong vehicle frame. Same goes for side impact crashes; the lighter vehile always has a much more severe amount of g-forces loaded on it.

NBK-Boston

Since when are crash tests conducted with real live humans, such that after one is complete the participants can get up and walk away from it (or fail to do so)?

Rafael Seidl

Sid -

by your logic, we should all be driving around in tanks. Arguably, some people are.

The smart fortwo features a Tridion safety cell, an ultra-stiff exoskeleton that can withstand surprising impact forces. As for acceleration, the most severe of these relates to the retardation of the passengers during a front impact crash when they impact the dashboard. The smart has a full set of airbags to deal with this, and headrests of course. I know people who have walked away essentially unhurt from a frontal crash against a tree at ~50kph. The car was totalled, but any other would have been, too.

Afaik, this particular microcar has not generated any negative news in the aftermath of serious crashes in any of the 36 countries in which it has been sold. This includes Canada, which also has a lot of big pick-ups. The US DOT dutifully repeats the refrain that the Big Three feed it: must have more steel! However, it really isn't quite that simple. With appropriate design and mitigation features, even a small,light car can be sufficiently safe (three stars out of five).

Also note that most fortwo drivers - many of them safety-conscious women, btw - instinctively drive more defensively than those behind the wheel of land yachts. Good all-round visibility and brakes plus rear-wheel drive layout enable fast, positive vehicle response in a dangaerous situation. This helps avoid accidents in the first place, especially low-speed fender-benders in urban areas.

t

I had the same question. They used real human beings? How much were they paid -- the ones that lived. How many did they lose until they got it right? Doesn't sound humane, legal, or plausible. What is the source for this so called test.

Mark R. W. Jr.

That reminds me of a clown car.

Sid Hoffman

It is a fact, pure and simple, that in all the federal and insurance industry statistics out there, the safest cars tend to be heavy luxury sedans. Deny it all you want, but weight matters. If I were spiteful, I would encourage you to buy the lightest car anyway so I can be smug about knowing your now have a statistically reduced chance of survival in a severe accident.

Patrick

The crash test I saw of a Smart and a Mercedes (it was an E500 I believe) had no occupants, was a video available on the internet, and showed virtually no deformation of the passenger compartment of the Smart. In vehicles equipped with airbags where the passengers use seatbelts, getting pinned down by the dash from deformation of the passenger compartment causes a significant amount of injury. Though G-forces do cause some lasting injuries you tend to experience more G-forces sitting down than you do in a car crash thanks to crush zones.

BTW- instead of steel, cars should be made of aluminum. Lighter and it absorbs more energy by mass than steel (much more).

Rafael Seidl

t -

the smart fortwo was safety-tested in the same way all other cars are, i.e. using dummies. I was referring to a real-life accident acquaintences of mine had.

Sid is right, big luxury sedans are the safest cars to be in if you crash. They are also among the most expensive to own and operate when you're not in a crash, plus they spew out a lot more CO2. Consumers will have decide for themselves how safe is safe enough when they decide if they want to own a small car.

Here's a video of a radio-controlled current-generation fortwo being smashed head-on into a concrete barrier at 70 mph (112 kph). The doors still open afterwards! I think it was produced by the BBC program "Top Gear".

http://www.dumpalink.com/media/1136559504/Smart_Vs_Wall

The design of the 2007 model has not been officially presented, so the following are spy pics (thinly veiled as usual in the car industry). Looks like they are sticking more or less with the current shape rather than the one they used for the Crosstown concept car. The headlights are different, it's 14cm (6") longer and features a Mitsubishi engine.

http://www.auto-motor-und-sport.de/news/erlkoenige/smart_fortwo.81439.htm

Neil

I do remember seeing some stats that indicated that SUVs tended to have more single vehicle crashes and that their weight actually caused problems in these cases. (I know from anecdotal evidence that when it snows here the ditches are full of 4wd vehicles that thought that somehow 4WD would help with braking too)

NBK-Boston

Big luxury cars usually rate highest in crash safety statistics. There are several reasons for this, and several lessons to be learned.

Reasons why luxury cars are safest include:

1. Sheer weight. This reduces the momentum-transfer and g-forces exerted on the car in a crash.

2. Sheet volume (independent of weight). This provides more room for crumple zones and slower accident deceleration.

3. Good engineering and more safety features. Luxury cars are usually the first cars to come out with useful features like air bags, ABS, side air bags, traction-control stability gizmos and the like. Their improved handling features (precision steering, quick acceleration) might also contribute to accident avoidance.

According to an insurance institute for highway safety analysis I read a few months ago, the first is relevant but probably the least important factor.

Also noteworthy is the fact that while large luxury cars are the safest vehicles on the road, large SUVs are far less safe than large cars or even most medium cars.

As I've said once before, if you are very safety concious, ditch your SUV first thing. Get a Ford 500 with AWD and side-curtain airbags if you regularly encounter snowy conditions and need to carry a bunch of people around. Your fuel economy will go up 50%. Second, accept the fact that a reasonably well engineered small or medium car will be quite safe by most standards, if you couldn't afford the Ford 500 or couldn't find room to park it -- though you probably never had the money or parking for the SUV at any rate. Third, consider buying a Prius. It's a reasonably big car with a very high safety rating and unbeatable mileage.

The whole problem with this debate is that there is just enough truth to the notion that bigger (heavier/more volumnious) cars are safer to obscure the fact that what the average motorist probably assumes to be true (i.e. driving a Suburban is safest) is in fact quite false. And damaging to the environment.

Jeff

I was recently in Paris, where there were Smarts everywhere, but they were mostly driven by women (cute women!)

I think the Crosstown concept is styled perfectly for the US for both sexes. If released, it'll sell like hotcakes in certain areas. Americans are obsessed with cars that look like toys (think Hummer) plus it's got oversized wheels for the men, and cuteness for the women (but not too feminine because of the hard angles). If it got great mileage and could legally park sideways there would be no other car for a childless couple in a dense urban area like Seattle or San Francisco. People in SF routinely spend 20 minutes looking for parking, in almost any neighborhood, no joke. (Of course, that's why I ride a bicycle...)

Now if only I could run it on biodiesel!

Keith

There is no way the car can be made for $9000 USD.

THe Canadian diesel starts at $16,700 CAD - and for that, I get 10 to 15% BETTER mileage than the Prius' best average drivers.

It's worth repeating - the diesel smart can get 100 mpg US

http://www.100mpg.ca

Icelander

It really doesn't matter if it's got two doors since it doesn't really have a backseat anyway.

I want one.

Rafael Seidl

Keith -

congrats on raching triple digit fuel economy with your fortwo cdi. That's quite impressive for a non-hybrid car.

However, please note: the current diesel engine design is by now a little long in the tooth, as evidenced by the fact that it normally achieves only Euro 3 PM values. For new customers, a retrofit PM catalyst (not a wall-flow model) is reportedly available at no extra charge in Europe. With this, the car can at least barely meet Euro 4.

Former DCX CEO Juergen Schrempp had indicated that the 2007 diesel variant would ship with a wall-flow filter. Rumor has it the new CEO, Dieter Zetsche, is backtracking on this to reduce manufacturing cost by several hundred Euros. No official word on this yet, though.

Note that even with a wall-flow filter for particulates, the diesel's engine-out NOx emissions would almost certainly still foul of EPA's extremely strict Tier 2 levels. Adding an SCR system would cost a minor fortune. Plus, while progress has been made on the OBD front, the distribution infratructure for the AdBlue urea additive is not yet in place in the US:

http://www.osti.gov/fcvt/deer2005/charmley.pdf

NOx store catalysts capable of meeting EPA durability requirements remain technically infeasible, especially in combination with wall-flow DPFs:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0CYH/is_20_7/ai_110471046

Therefore, US customers will only be offered the gasoline variants of the new smart fortwo. I don't have information about what will be offered in Canada in 2007.

wintermane

Um the reason many drive fairly big cars has more to do with the fact that...


1 They are fairly big.

2 They need to stay healthy and well even though they are doing hour plus commutes through shit designed road systems.

3 They have to deal with the very likely accident of them and an 18 wheeler of 35 tons or more..

4 The large cars dont get that much worse gas milage.. ours gets 32 per.

5 No matter how good the stated milage all cars get 0 mpg in a traffic jam.

Sparky1

This car gets phenomenal gas mileage. 55 mpg + or – depending if you drive the piss out of it.

As for looking like a “Fruit” In Vancouver the girls love this car and there is many an over muscled bonehead driving these around with a hot bodied blond with ah hand on his stick shift.

I love mine, the only draw back is that it doesn’t fit my family and my wife steals it when I am not looking leaving me with the Subaru and the kids to take to daycare.

Oh well such is marriage

John Ard

Maybe now Dodge can release the Sling Shot concept it had (a thinly veiled Smart roadster). I wouldn't mind driving the pumpkin seed, but the Sling Shot had the look of a BMW Z3. Wishful thinking...

HHN

if you figure how many cubic feet of air the 35 tonners pollute,running 24 hrs/day, compared to a 800cc 3 cyl diesel(smart car)per Mile,I'd say let's work on cleaning up those Polluters,before we get all hyped up about a Smart Car,maybe driven 30 minutes per day.

Cooking Cajun

I second the votes for the "Smart Crosstown" hybrid. If Daimler Chrysler is going to expose the Smart Car to a larger American audience, it seems the hybrid edition would attract mor buyers.

C.C.

mrnimmo

Re: safety

Well, it may not be as safe as a Lincoln Towncar but it surely has to be safer than a Ninja. I don't see why we have mandatory safety regs for passenger cars, but will allow a 19 year old to jump on a crotch rocket motorcycle capable of doing 150+mph.

Just publish the crash testing results, stars or whatever, and let the consumer decide. If you want to drive a Smart, crash testing should NOT be a hinderance.

Jon

They have been selling Smarts in Canada for years now, and they have become extremely popular in urban areas like Toronto. I can only see the numbers going up (way up) with a 4 seater model, as that has been the sticking point for many fence sitters.

As for the look - I dont mind it one bit, and well, my buddies HOT girlfriend loves the one they have (and its not unusual to get a few girls peering inside). I will admit that it doesnt have the "Im a badass" attitude that say.. a hummer has. But I will also admit that most people around here think those drivers are trying to compensate for something.

Drive a Smart? You must have a huge **** :)

But really - these cars are ultra pratical for those who have limited commuting needs (or limited needs while commuting) and are looking for a car that is easy and fun to drive. If they brought the Roadster to NA I would pick one up too.

As for the other comments on this board... there must be some trolls here like Rafael Seidl who ovbiousally needs to read up more on a thing called statistics.

I HIGHLY doubt that small cars are magnatized to 18 wheelers. The last time I checked (2005 figures), the chances of getting mashed up and killed by a big rig were slim - its not 1 in a million - but close - 1 in 65,719. Buy your lotto tickets now! The numbers are down 11 % in the last 10 years. Guess why? No cars have remained the same size in general. A 1985 Cutlass is fairly similar to a modern SUV in weight / size. They have just become SAFER. Go figure. :)


The smart is a great car and is what car manufacturers should be looking into. Creating LIGHTER vehicles with improved safety. You can toss whatever powerplant you like into a smart. Hybrid. Diesel. Gar. Electric. It will get way better mileage then a conventional car because of the power / weight ratio. It really is Smart.

Chris Hill

The Smart car is all about changing attitudes and perspectives about cars that we have had imprinted on us in North America since we were kids. People always ask the same questions about my Smart: "How fast does it go?" and "How does it run on the highway?"and "What if you need to drive with more than two people?"

I didn't buy a Smart to go fast, and I didn't buy it for highway cruising, and it's usually just me in the car. Call it niche marketing, but that's the name of the game in cars and this suits me fine, thank you. When the questions turn to "How much gas does it use?" and "Is it safe?" I start to get more smiles when I give the answers.

I'm not afraid to take this car on the road but admit I would never ride a motorcycle.

dobberdoss

These smart cars are everywhere in the UK. You can buy a brand spanker for 6000 pounds which is around $10,000USD. They are great cars. Think of the parking aspect alone. Some people have been known to park them sideways. They are incredibly roomy even with just to seats. There's just enough room behind the seats for about 4 grocery bags.
Ive haven't seen any diesel ones but if that's what they are making I'll have one!

wwfin

The USA needs a million units delivered tomorrow to replace 10mpg SUVs. Then, let's reconsider the question of dependency on foreign oil.

alan

why the hell isn't DCX bringing the diesel version of the
smart car to the US? It's been available in Canada.

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