It’s no surprise I loathe the Chevy Volt (see here, here, and here) but I don’t hate electric cars. I love weird niche vehicles and might dig owning a plug in. That’s why I hate the Chevy Volt; it’s a shitty car for a shitty price with shitty performance. I want anreal electric car and Chevy’s Volt is just a subsidy harvest.
Here’s another niche car that bought the farm: our government killed the Smart Car. It’s a ridiculously small “car-like-object” that’s been for sale in Europe for years. It is saddled with an appalling name (“Smart Car”) and it’s smaller than a Labrador retriever but it has a killer feature; 69 MPG.
Compared to a Buick it’s a dog turd on wheels but I’m bored by SUVs. I’ll consider anything. Rather than think of it as a “really small car” I wondered if it could be “a motorcycle that has a body and heater”?
It was not for sale in America. Thanks to Twinkies like Ralf Nader, the EPA, and our Nation’s lamentable position as host to rabid hordes of feral liability lawyers, lots of cool cars cannot be sold in America. It pains me to say it but the French can buy cars that I, as an American citizen, cannot. The French damn it! It’s an assault on all that America stands for that the damn French can buy something that’s banned by EPA regulation. We’re the people who invented Wal-Mart and turned over-consumption into a National pastime. It’s not right!
I waited for the little Smart Car. First it was in Europe and I couldn’t have it. Then it was in Canada and I couldn’t have it. The reviews made it seem ok. It was supposedly dirt cheap and invariably got super mileage from it’s tiny diesel engine. I love diesels; it had potential. I was worried it might be a bit “buzzy” at highway speeds but I planned to test drive one when it got to America.
Then it arrived in America but it wasn’t for sale anywhere near me. I planned a fun motorcycle road trip to the nearest dealer to check one out. Just to kick the tires and drive something odd.
Then I found out it was “Americanized”. It was supposedly heavier (not cool on something so small), it was much more expensive, and it was equipped with a gas engine that got relatively lousy mileage. I never test drove one because without excellent MPG it’s all sizzle and no steak.
Which brings me to today’s link Sales of the Smart ForTwo Plummet:
“It will not import its diesel version available in Europe. Despite the fact that this model achieves more than 69 miles per gallon, it’s gasoline-only for these shores. Which means the company must rely on a model that has been criticized (by me and other reviewers) for a balky transmission, lackluster road-holding and pretty average fuel economy for a car this size (36 miles per gallon, according to government testing — a number I never achieved).
With larger modestly priced cars boasting similar fuel economy, like Honda’s Fit and the coming Ford Fiesta, it’s hard to see how Smart will manage to attract enough buyers to make this a going concern.”
By the way, the article was from February 2010. How were they going to address this problem:
“The company says it will react appropriately with a new marketing strategy.”
“New marketing strategy” is code for “refuse to adapt and fail like the little pussies that we are”. Here’s a hint. If you’re selling shit, the solution is not advertising.
The Smart Car is dead to me. I bought a Honda and have been driving the wheels off it. It’s a thousand times bigger yet gets similar MPG to the “gassed” Smart Car. It’s much faster, seats four, and the stick shift is fun to drive. The Smart Car that could have been a fun little street legal go kart / heated motorcycle was turned into an eco-masochist’s hair shirt. Nobody sane will own one. Harrumph!