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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-10-08, 01:12 PM   #1
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Car Light Car Spotting



I saw one of these Smart cars for the first time in person today in front of my office.
They really are strange looking. I like that they get 40mpg though.
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Old 03-10-08, 01:18 PM   #2
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I would expect them to get more then that. And I would think for a car that small they could make it between the lines a bit better!

I wonder if I could get my fat rear in that thing.
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Old 03-10-08, 01:47 PM   #3
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yeah, 40 MPG sucks. who cares. we need 100 MPG cars
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Old 03-10-08, 02:06 PM   #4
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Well, its also categorized as an Ultra-Low-Emissions-Vehicle.
Anyway, it gets about double the fuel economy as most of the
cars it was parked next to.
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Old 03-10-08, 02:17 PM   #5
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I could see myself in this. (taken in Munich)

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Old 03-10-08, 02:20 PM   #6
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I could see myself in this. (taken in Munich)

Theres some dealer in California that has a bunch of those for sale with
a terrible looking website that has lots of pictures of them.
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Old 03-10-08, 02:25 PM   #7
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If anyone is thinking of a new car, wait till 2009 when the plug in hybrids start coming out. Don't buy a gasoline only engine, you will kick yourself for doing that soon enough ;-)
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Old 03-10-08, 02:25 PM   #8
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I saw one of these Smart cars for the first time in person today in front of my office.
They really are strange looking. I like that they get 40mpg though.

So did these, only 36 years ago.
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Old 03-10-08, 02:27 PM   #9
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Well, its also categorized as an Ultra-Low-Emissions-Vehicle.
Anyway, it gets about double the fuel economy as most of the
cars it was parked next to.
I think my dads 4 door 2000 Honda Accord is considered an Ultra-Low-Emissions-Vehicle, not that its terrible or as bad as a V8 Suburban, but we really could do better.
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Old 03-10-08, 03:01 PM   #10
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Geo Metros get the same MPG as the Smart. Both have 3-cylinder engines.
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Old 03-10-08, 03:54 PM   #11
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The smart doesn't impress me. A tiny little marginally useful tin can that ONLY gets 40 mpg? If I'm going to drive a little tin can it better get much better mileage.
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Old 03-10-08, 05:05 PM   #12
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Well, its also categorized as an Ultra-Low-Emissions-Vehicle.
Anyway, it gets about double the fuel economy as most of the
cars it was parked next to.
Uh, no.

Unless the sedan it is parked next to is a KIA[*] or over 20 years old, it should get 25 mpg as a bare minimum. It's fairly easy to buy an SUV that gets more than 20 mpg (and there's no excuse for buying one that gets less, since they were being sold in 1990 with that level of efficiency).

Matter of fact, you could buy cars in the 1990s that got 40mpg. This vehicle has *no* excuse for doing that badly. The fact that you are letting car manufacturers get away with lazy engineering is... not good. For a vehicle that small and light, the gas mileage is atrocious.
[*] KIA seems to pride themselves on selling car shaped objects. They consistently have the worst miles per gallon of any vehicle in their category, and often their mpg is one I wouldn't have accepted in the 1980s... and my parents wouldn't have accepted it in the 1970s.
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Old 03-10-08, 05:32 PM   #13
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I saw one of these Smart cars for the first time in person today in front of my office.
They really are strange looking. I like that they get 40mpg though.
Shame they won't let the diesel version in the country, it gets close to 80mpg.
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Old 03-10-08, 06:30 PM   #14
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I had one of those Honda 1200's mine was a 1978 but was not a CVCC. IIRC it usually got 42 on the highways and about 34 in town. Excellent little car. Honda has always been on the forefront of meeting whatever government standards pop up.

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Old 03-10-08, 07:06 PM   #15
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I wonder if I could get my fat rear in that thing.
I was driving one of those the other day and my previous boss ( 6'8"-6'9" 320lbs ) could get in and drive it.
Granted, it looked funny and he had to use the paddle shifters ( gear stick was under his knee ) but he said
it was easier to get in than a civic. (high, upright seating position)

Myself (6'2" 200lbs) had no problems, and i managed to get my road bike in, with wheels off, and about
a carts worth of shopping.

I had thought it was missing a little something on the highway, it was! I had not reached top gear!
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Old 03-10-08, 07:11 PM   #16
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Well, its also categorized as an Ultra-Low-Emissions-Vehicle.
Anyway, it gets about double the fuel economy as most of the
cars it was parked next to.

I agree. I was just expecting more from that light of a car. Maybe the engine is low key and as you say low emission.
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Old 03-10-08, 10:43 PM   #17
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Daimler Chrysler decided to not import these cars with the smaller motors that get better mileage. They thought that the American consumer wouldn't want them. They are idiots. Anyone wanting a two seat car this small wants high miles per gallon.

Now that the companies have broken apart I wonder if Mercedes will change its mind about importing models with the more efficient engines.

I remember seeing a story about this body style being developed in Germany more than ten years ago. An electric version or a flex fuel plug-in hybrid would make this a great car to have around. Zap the US electric car and motorcycle company wanted to make some of these as electric vehicles. I don't think the deal went through. There were no Smart cars on their web site the last time I looked.
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Old 03-10-08, 10:44 PM   #18
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40 mpg sucks. I want some of these:



They're stackable cars. 100% electric. The wheels have their own motors so you can drive right next to an open spot and turn the wheels sideways and drive right into the spot, sideways (no more parallel parking).

Also, they're stackable:


Stacked, it will take up 1/8 the space of a normal car. And they're planning to have spots around cities where you can pickup and leave the car (like zip cars, except here you'd swipe your creditcard on the actual car). They're building them with GM.

oh, and they're also building these:

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Old 03-10-08, 11:26 PM   #19
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40 mpg sucks. I want some of these:



They're stackable cars. 100% electric. The wheels have their own motors so you can drive right next to an open spot and turn the wheels sideways and drive right into the spot, sideways (no more parallel parking).

Also, they're stackable:


Stacked, it will take up 1/8 the space of a normal car. And they're planning to have spots around cities where you can pickup and leave the car (like zip cars, except here you'd swipe your creditcard on the actual car). They're building them with GM.

oh, and they're also building these:
Any links to details?
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Old 03-11-08, 01:16 AM   #20
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yeah, 40 MPG sucks. who cares. we need 100 MPG cars
I saw an interview with the businessman responsible for importing Smart cars to the US, and he described the 40mpg "issue" as a tradeoff between performance and efficiency.

The fact is, if we were willing to forgo safety features such as crumple zones, airbags, and traction control, and if we didn't care that our autos took 25 seconds to accelerate to 70mph, we would have 100mpg cars today.

It's all moot anyways. The future of cars is in plug-in electrics like the Chevy Volt, which has a supplemental ICE generator to charge the fully electric drivetrain in the event of an extended drive.
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Old 03-11-08, 04:06 AM   #21
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The fact is, if we were willing to forgo safety features such as crumple zones, airbags, and traction control, and if we didn't care that our autos took 25 seconds to accelerate to 70mph, we would have 100mpg cars today.
No kidding. Ram a Smart FourTwo into a barrier and it'll bounce off, whereas that original Civic would fold in half.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=mcuimw8ql_A
Longer version: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ju6t-yyoU8s&feature=related

Safety & comfort features add weight, and weight kills fuel economy. Frankly, I'm surprised that today's cars can make as much power as they do, pushing as much weight as they have to, and still return average fuel economy that's as good as, or better than, in the past.

Calling the Smart a "marginally useful tin can" is really doing it a disservice, too. I've seen these things crawling everywhere around Europe. A car like this will handle probably 95% of the stuff that people use cars for -- or maybe even everything. You'd be surprised by how much space is wasted in normal coupes & sedans. I think my dad wants a Smart.

Of course, if even the petrol FourTwo is too slow, you can always swap in a Hayabusa motor:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=4gseTGwppbg&feature=related

And that Scion tC parked behind the Smart in the OP's pic? Expect that one to get about 25 mpg, too, depending on how it's driven.
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Old 03-11-08, 07:54 AM   #22
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I was driving one of those the other day and my previous boss ( 6'8"-6'9" 320lbs ) could get in and drive it.
Granted, it looked funny and he had to use the paddle shifters ( gear stick was under his knee ) but he said
it was easier to get in than a civic. (high, upright seating position)

Myself (6'2" 200lbs) had no problems, and i managed to get my road bike in, with wheels off, and about
a carts worth of shopping.

I had thought it was missing a little something on the highway, it was! I had not reached top gear!

That's pretty good! I am between you and your boss's size and think it would be doable given the benefits. Naturally I'd like to recline and have someone feed me grapes but that's not happening.
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Old 03-11-08, 08:07 AM   #23
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All this talk about plug-in cars being so great... If your power comes from a coal plant (or any other fossil fuel plant), a plug-in car isn't clean or sustainable. Just because there isn't a brown cloud coming right out of a the tailpipe doesn't mean the car is emission free.

We need clean and renewable electric power sources before electric cars will be a viable option.
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Old 03-11-08, 08:27 AM   #24
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The fact is, if we were willing to forgo safety features such as crumple zones, airbags, and traction control, and if we didn't care that our autos took 25 seconds to accelerate to 70mph, we would have 100mpg cars today.
And of course, we can't forgo most of that stuff because it's mandated by the federal government.

Consider that the Smart weighs 300lbs more than the magic 1972 Civic and has 20 more HP. It also has to contend with much stricter emissions requirements which, paradoxically, hurt fuel economy. Frankly, I feel that many of the current crop of cars posess amazing combinations of economy and practicality. A base Mini Cooper with a 6 speed transmission gets 37mpg on the highway even under the stricter 2008 EPA system. It doesn't even have a throttle plate in the traditional sense - it uses variable valve lift to act as a "throttle".
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Old 03-11-08, 08:28 AM   #25
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And of course, we can't forgo most of that stuff because it's mandated by the federal government.

Consider that the Smart weighs 300lbs more than the magic 1972 Civic and has 20 more HP. It also has to contend with much stricter emissions requirements which, paradoxically, hurt fuel economy. Frankly, I feel that many of the current crop of cars posess amazing combinations of economy and practicality. A base Mini Cooper with a 6 speed transmission gets 37mpg on the highway even under the stricter 2008 EPA system. It doesn't even have a throttle plate in the traditional sense - it uses variable valve lift to act as a "throttle".
And the mini doesnt have a rear axle either.
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