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Published on February 21st, 2008 | by Sarah Lozanova


European “Smart Car” Hits American Market

February 21st, 2008 by  


What lessons can be learned from this tiny car, that Europeans are calling Un-American?

When my husband and I look for a parking spot on the crowded Chicago streets, we often joke that our tiny Smart car would have many potential parking spots. Our joke can now become a reality as the Daimler Mercedes-Benz Smart car hits the American market. This car might help show Americans that bigger is not always better.

With nearly 1 million car sales in 36 countries, this car has made quite a splash over the last 10 years. The US Smart car will range in price from $11,590 to $16,590. In the US, there is a waiting list with 40,000 people who have forked out a $99 deposit. This exceeded the expectations of most, with many people doubting that the car will be popular on this side of the pond.

The car is a contradiction of everything that I think of as a typical American car. This two passenger car is a mere 106 inches in length and has a 3 cylinder engine. It gets about 40 miles per gallon, which I found slightly disappointing. Roughly half the length of an SUV, there are significant advantages to parking a car of this size.

Many people are calling for a cultural change to respond to the environmental challenges that face society. This car demonstrates European moderation, while providing a comfortable ride (for two). Could this car begin to undo the American mentality that bigger and more powerful is always better?

If nothing else, this car helps reduce the land area needed for parked cars and reduces the gas consumed to power it. The driving experience in urban areas is a bit more relaxed due to a larger choice of parking spots and increased mobility through congested areas.

It is too early to tell how popular this car will be in the US, or if we are willing to give up size and power for convenience and savings.

>> Related: ZPM’s 106 MPG Air Car Could Hit the Streets Next Year 
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About the Author

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.

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