a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Monday, April 21, 2008

This car smarts

Nothing would make me happier, as we approach Earth Day tomorrow, than to drive an economical car that gets 40 miles per gallon.

And with the price of gasoline at record highs, that “joy of life” could be found by scooting around in Mercedes' sexy new Smart Fortwo.

The cars are coated with water-soluble paint in three basic colors of black, white and yellow. They have recyclable body panels. Each car stands five feet, one inch tall and stretches eight feet, eight inches long. Two people, six feet, five inches tall, can seat comfortably in them.

But take a look at the sticker price - a fully loaded Smart Car sells for $24,000. That’s a lot of global warming of the wallet when there are cheaper models out there with similar gasoline savings that seat four people.

Meanwhile, people seem to enjoy a laugh on behalf of this car.

“It looks like a roller skate coming down the road, and that a strong wind would blow it over on the interstate,” said a writer I respect in the newsroom.

A guy who posts comments under my photos at Flickr has this say: “Cool car, but if you are over 200 pounds, it’s going to look like a clown mobile.”

For now, I’ll keep my tiny pickup because people already find enough reasons to poke fun at me. For example, one of our Web gurus just said that I look just like Mr. Potato Head.


Brant said...

I'm really skeptical that I would be seated comfortably in this car, considering my ample girth. It seems fine for tooling around town, but if you go grocery shopping, you might have to strap the bags to the roof. Also, I'm guessing that if you have a wreck in one of those things, they'll be removing you with a hose.

Harry Funk said...

This looks remarkably like an Isetta, a car manufactured in the '50s, first by Iso (Italy) and later by BMW!

Many such "bubble cars" appeared in post-World War II Europe because of the scarcity of gasoline, while American manufacturers loaded up on the steel and tailfins. Don't get me wrong; those were great cars! But obviously, no regard was paid to the long-term ramifications of fuel consumption.

That caught up with us in the '70s, of course. But the First Energy Crisis taught us nothing, apparently. As soon as Ronald Reagan came aboard and set the U.S. clock back to the '50s, it was a matter of: Crisis? What crisis?

So a generation bought SUVs and now are complaining about filling 'em up.

Brant has a good point about the "Smart car." Who among us overfed Americans is going to want to try to fit in one?

I'm not expecting to see too many of those tooling around among the Escalades in Peters Twp. anytime soon!

Amanda Gillooly said...

I would meet an early end in that car. On 79? With all the tractor trailers and SUVs? Yeah, death. Or serious dismemberment.

Scott Beveridge said...

It's still a cool car, and supposed to have a good safety rating.