Smart Cars?

May 18, 2008 at 3:20 am | Posted in Consumer Issues, Current Events, humor | 21 Comments
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As gas prices continue to rise I’ve noticed more Smart Cars on the road. They are tiny, funny looking cars that when seen from the side, look to me as if someone lopped the back end off. If they got 500 mpg you couldn’t get me into one of those cars unless every other vehicle on the road was a smart car. Small cars scare the hell out of me, and this one makes the Mini Cooper look big. I was driving behind one the other day thinking that if a bicycle ran into it , this car would be totaled. I also thought I could run it off the road by passing it and blowing on it through my open window.

I did a little reading, and found they do well in safety tests, however the report I read stated

“The big question from consumers is, ‘How safe is it?'” said IIHS president Adrian Lund. “All things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better.

The report also states these cars would be best for driving in dense city traffic where speeds are low and high speed crashes are rare. I think the best use of the Smart Car might be to put it into the back of your SUV while driving on the highway then park and roll the little smartie out for navigating the slow moving city traffic.



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  1. Yeah, why can’t they make fuel efficient cars that don’t look like something out of a bad movie about the future?

  2. Tiny cars scare the stuffing out of me too. A Smart car would definitely lose a run-in with a Suburban. I don’t drive a SUV, but I want to be in something that gives a chance at survival. Otherwise, I might as well just ride a motorcycle and get it over with quick.

  3. Will you say the same at $10.00/gallon? How about $15.00? How high do the prices have to go before people figure out that we need to downsize and use less energy. Period. We need to change our thinking.

    What makes ME laugh are Suburbans, and the devil-may-care mindset of Suburban drivers. They have a 31 gallon tank. Which means right now it costs $124 for a fillup out here in California. When oil hits $250 a barrel (wholesale 3-5 year forecast), That’s going to be $8.00 a gallon retail, just about $248 for a fillup. People will be dumping their Suburbans off the nearest cliff, while Smart cars will sell for a huge premium.

    If you want 50mpg in a standard ICE car, you need something as small as the Smart. If you’re willing to pay for hybrid tech, you can get 50 mpg in a midsize car. Then there’s the midsize Chevy Volt coming in 2010. 40 miles range in all electric mode. 50-60 mpg in hybrid mode.

    Oh, by the way, you can park the Smart sideways (nose into the curb) in a standard space, or take a motorcycle space.

  4. Blacksun,
    The savings won’t do me a bit of good if I’m dead. I was in an accident, witnessed by a highway patrol officer, who told me the only thing that saved me from being road kill was the size and weight of my vehicle. The Smart Car wouldn’t have been smart enough to hold its ground as well as my ford explorer and would have easily been pushed further into harms way.

    Yes, gas is going up, but what’s a life worth?

  5. Yes, gas is going up, but what’s a life worth?

    Depends on the life, and how you want to measure it. In the US, the government sets a de facto upper limit to the value of a human life — if a company does something which kills people (usually improper waste disposal), they must pay damages accordingly, and that value is something like 2 or 3 million dollars per person. (I seem to recall that they adjust downward for the elderly, too.)

    That’s a maximum, though, and it only applies to US citizens and others with legal standing within the US, and only when companies get caught, which translates into “when the survivors can afford lawyers”. If we are speaking practically and realistically, the worth your life is proportional to how much money you have. If you’re barely making your mortgage/rent payments and living on peanut butter, then I do not advise you to test your worth by turning in a payment that’s $10 less than what you owe, because you’re likely to find that banks and building owners would rather have that $10 than prevent you from dying of exposure or starvation. The life of a homeless person is worth effectively nil.

    More to the point, though: as the price of gas rises, SUVs will become less and less common. As that happens, the likelihood of being in an accident with a large car while driving a Smart Car will drop. You almost certainly take risks of the “accident with a much larger vehicle” type already — any time you drive on a highway, you face the risk of being in a collision with a fully-loaded tractor-trailer, and being in a Ford Explorer isn’t going to save you. But that’s rare enough to be ignored, just as SUVs will (assuming high gas prices) eventually be rare enough to be ignored.

    You tone and defensiveness suggest cognitive dissonance is at work here. I suspect that what you really mean in this post is “I have bought into the advertisers’ hype about big cars, and so I’ll grasp at any argument, no matter how fallacious, to avoid admitting that I consider a fuel-efficient vehicle to be beneath my dignity.” Go read Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), which is worth reading even if you think I’m being a sarcastic evil troll, and then reread your own post.

  6. To The Anonymous Vicar,
    No I’m not defensive but explanatory. You, on the other hand come across as angry and hostile. Comments in this vein generally are anonymous, as yours is. I wonder why?

    I’m sorry you got defensiveness from what was intended to be a sarcastic and humorous post about a silly little car. Perhaps you are projecting.

    I do not consider a fuel efficient vehicle beneath my dignity, nor have I bought into advertising hype. I don’t drive daily as I work from my very humble home. I live simply and take many measures towards conservation.

    I realize a large vehicle is not a guarantee of total safety, but driving a little toy car is probably not any safer than a motor cycle (referred to in emergency rooms as donor cycles).

    Based on a few comments you make some pretty broad and incorrect assumptions about me. Is it lonely up there on your lofty perch?

  7. aint it cute!

  8. The smaller Smart cars are built with a “tridion safety cell” that crunches the heck out of all other fiberglass bodies that you all love so much. I’d feel safer in a Smart than in my Civic because it’s housed in a full metal frame that just doesn’t bend. I’ve seen the crash tests where the front end of the “other” car is totaled, but the Smart’s doors open like normal, and the frame is intact.

  9. Actually, bigger and heavier is NOT always safer. Big and heavy can be top heavy. If the car is on top of you, suddenly you wish the weight were less not more.

    Also, I liked the title. I read the article because I thought it was comedy. Digging up oil from the ground, depending upon hostile countries for commuting, and riding in vehicles that alienate one from others and piss one off (hello road rage) is not smart. So the whole thing is a cute oxymoron. 🙂

  10. Actually, I have read more than one auto expert saying that “If you are a good driver, the safest car is a small, nimble car with good brakes.” The trouble is that so many bad drivers try to feel safer by driving large heavy vehicles. MJ

  11. larger is better? ha!
    just remember this: a car that weighs twice as much, hits a tree with 4 times as much force. which is better now?

    to give a blanket statement like that is totally misleading

  12. […] Smart Cars? As gas prices continue to rise I’ve noticed more Smart Cars on the road. They are tiny, funny looking cars when seen from the side, look to me as if someone lopped the back end off. If they got 500 mpg you couldn’t get me into one of …Honjii’s Harangues – […]

  13. I’m wondering how the image of the carpooling kids and the “soccer mom” will change if more people switch over to smaller cars, such as the Smart Car. Would everyone else just be driving smaller cars while the vans and carpool SUVs still shuttle the little leaguers, girl scouts, and dancers around?

  14. Sittingpugs, Your comment raises a good question. If everyone switches to tiny cars, and carpooling becomes impossible, perhaps the net result in gas used will wind up being a wash.

    I suppose you could strap four or five kids to the top of a smart car if you really wanted to carpool.;)

  15. Smart Car hauling a cart?

    Not Horse-and-buggy, but Tiny Car-and-Buggy.

  16. To those who have disputed my above statement that a bigger heavier car is safer, please understand that this is not just my opinion, this was written by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

  17. Hmm… I think Smart cars is very convenient in the city, but I do not like these cars because I have a big increase and I never placed in a car.
    Of course if this is not smart-limousine, an article about this amazing machine, you can read here:

  18. To those commenters who think bigger and heavier is not safer think again. All the research reporting from the insurance industry and other safety testing agencies seems to show that bigger and heavier IS in fact safer. Before you go attacking what this blogger wrote, with your opinions, try getting the good hard facts first.

    MJ Olsen, hit the tree with one of those little cars you are liable to become part of the tree.

    Ada, it doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are, those reports assume every other driver on the road has equally good driving skills, they do not take into account the person in the hummer, on the cel phone, drinking a latte who will crush your smart car like a bug while you are exhibiting your excellent driving skills.

  19. Those cars are made for a European lifestyle, where you see them plentiful everywhere. And where they’ve been around for many many years. They are actually not that fuel efficient, their main advantage is parking space, for New Yorkers they are a gift from heaven. And they even sit tall people quiet comfortably, believe it or not. But I can not see them take a hold west of the Mississippi, where there really isn’t any use for them…..

  20. Hi There,

    I live in Jacksonville Florida and I have a SmartCar (passion) It is awesome. It’s absolutely the most fun car I have ever owned and I love it. The fuel economy is awesome. It’s very flat here so the milage in the city is about 41 MPG. On the highway I get about 47-49 mpg. (in florida)
    We have it logo’ed out with our company graphics and it gets quite a few looks. As and advertising medium it is great.

    The Smartcar is a great idea that can and does work. The MPG is great and the price is low enough to get an immediate return on your investment. Some of the hybrids are too expensive to see as quick of a return. The cost of my car (passion) was $13,400, that’s cheap by most standards. There are cheaper cars, but not any as cool in that price range. I waited 8 months for mine. It was worth the wait.

    Don Myers

  21. […] Smart Cars « Honjii’s Harangues […]

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