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ZAP Smart Car Approved for Sale in the US

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the you-go dept.

United States 759

An anonymous reader writes "ZAP's Smart Car has officially been approved by the EPA for sale in the United States. From the article: 'It was the last major regulatory hurdle the company faced.' Finally a 60 mpg car that can go 90 mph and look cool at the same time!!"

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Look Cool? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923838)

That's a matter of opinion. Personally, I think it looks like my ass.

Re:Look Cool? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923871)

That's a matter of opinion. Personally, I think it looks like my ass.

Maybe you should lose some weight?

90 MPH???? (3, Interesting)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923839)

After seeing that car, I don't think I would want to go 90MPH in it....

Re:90 MPH???? (2)

Malevolyn (776946) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923859)

I don't think I'd want to do any MPH in it. Is there some rule that says that no emission vehicles can't look good?

Re:90 MPH???? (3, Interesting)

DigitumDei (578031) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923980)

The smart roadster [cardesignnews.com] , while still ugly in a way, definitely looks a lot better than the normal one.

Re:90 MPH???? (2, Informative)

DigitumDei (578031) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923876)

We've had the Smart car in South Africa for about a year now. And yes I have to agree, I would not ride in one of those cars on a freeway.

That said, parking is not a problem in one of them.

Re:90 MPH???? (0, Flamebait)

timinkc (799488) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923917)

Are you freaking kidding me!!! All you Europeans, listen i hate bush, and think the wars wrong and all, but no self respecting American would drive that thing! maybe a 12 year old in the back yard....

Re:90 MPH???? (0, Flamebait)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923981)

No, make that a 2 year old in the back yard.

What this thing resembles most are those Flinstones style plastic pedal cars that they sell over here for Toddlers.

Re:90 MPH???? (5, Informative)

roy23 (159499) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923975)

We have one and regularly go 90 mph on the motorways here. It's fab. The only reason they don't go more than 90 is that they have a speed limiter. You can get them chipped however...
http://www.smarttune.co.uk/tuning.htm [smarttune.co.uk]

Re:90 MPH???? (5, Funny)

The_Rift (257762) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924010)

I was given one of these as a replacement car when mine was being serviced.
I took it out on the motorway round Brussels and while it's a lot like driving a hair dryer it is suprisingly comfortable.
I wouldn't want to do any long motorway trips in one though, but then that really isn't what the designers intended either.
I'd have preferred a manual gearbox (smart forfour is the only smart with this as an option) but that won't be an issue in the US.

One thing I noticed is nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, can stand being overtaken by one of these.

Not so SMART . . . (-1, Flamebait)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923840)

. . . when it meets the business end of an SUV or Hummer in an accident.

Nothing is then SMART (3, Insightful)

tid242 (540756) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923868)

Not so SMART ... . . . when it meets the business end of an SUV or Hummer in an accident

Then the only "smart" thing to drive (extrapolating from your statement) would then be another Hummer or behemoth SUV, which i sure as fuck would not be driving.

Let's not be a part of the problem.

-tid242

Re:Nothing is then SMART (2, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923904)

No, that's even worse. A SMART will ricochet off most little trucks (unless it's stuck under a bullbar?) but an SUV to SUV collision is usually terminal for both drivers. Most SUVs don't crush too well so the impact passes to their occupants... If you want to crash into a Hummer, either drive a Semi or a safe but big sedan like an S-Class (more to absorb the impact).

Re:Nothing is then SMART (1)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923918)

Since the problem is people eager to run around and tell other people what they should and shouldn't be driving as some sort of moral crusade, I'd say it's too late; you are already part of the problem.

Re:Nothing is then SMART (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923996)

Not quite. There are a number of reasonable sized sedans that are more than capable of protecting you from a 50mph impact from a rusty old suburban.

Although anything the size of a SMART is typically a deathtrap.

Re:Not so SMART . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923877)

Clearly the sensible thing to do then is to not let people drive hugly uneconomic SUVs then!

Re:Not so SMART . . . (5, Insightful)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923878)

Actually, you'd come out of that kind of collission pretty well. The Smart's tridion safety cage is almost indestructable. I've seen this thing crash tested.. the outside of the car is the entire crumple zone, and the passengers are protected in the safety cell. No cabin instrusions, nothing. Up against a normal road car, the Smart usually comes off better.

Re:Not so SMART . . . (5, Insightful)

Maddog Batty (112434) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923955)

On channel 5 in the UK recently they showed Smart cars being driven into various other large cars. It came off very well. To do a final test they drove a Smart into a concrete barrier at 70mph to see what would happen. The car come off fine. Both doors would open and one would even shut again.

Unfortunately, anybody in the car at the time would be dead due to internal injuries. No amount of safety cages, seat belts and air bags will stop your guts from going splat internally when decelerating from 70mph to 0 in about 1 meter.

Re:Not so SMART . . . (2, Informative)

JPDeckers (559434) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923959)

Like here [wheels.ca] ?

Drive one myselve...

Re:Not so SMART . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10924009)

Seriously - awesome pictures. I didn't see one where the SMART car had intrusions into the cabin.

Re:Not so SMART . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10924015)

Up against a normal road car, the Smart usually comes off better.

Uh, but what about the people inside?!

It's not the impact that kills you, it's the sudden stop.

More mass always wins. This Zaptaskic thing is just a motorcycle with a roll cage.

Survivability (4, Interesting)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923935)


The Smart has actually been proven to come off very well in crashes.

There is no engine in the front of a Smart to be pushed into the passenger compartment (preventing leg injuries etc.)

A UK TV show demo'd the Smart being crashed into a solid concrete wall at 70mph. Amazingly, the tridion safety cell preserved the shape of the vehicle sufficiently that the doors would still open/close. Another bonus is the low mass and hence inertia of the Smart which means you can litterally 'bounce-off' solid objects while dissipating crash energy in a safe manner.

The Smart also features high-quality airbags to prevent neck/back injuries.

Furthermore, the Smart is pedestrian-friendly, once-again, the hapless would-be road-kill bounces off the plastic panels and there are no suspension turrets to impale them.

Re:Not so SMART . . . (2, Insightful)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923940)

Hah! Imagine when your SUV is hit head on by an Abrahms tank! And they all suck if an asteroid hits you straight on! Well - it is a decent car with high sitting positions. I don't think its less safe than some Civic. (Yes, I've seen those on the streets. In Russia even).

Old known in Europe (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923841)

In Europe we've seend this cars since probably 5 years ago. Right now there are getting popular the new SMART FORFOUR, which offers 4 places in an also reduced space. I think here it was distributed together with either BMW or Mercedes. Haven't heard anything about that "ZAP" thing...

Re:Old known in Europe (2, Informative)

RupW (515653) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923861)

In Europe we've seend this cars since probably 5 years ago. Right now there are getting popular the new SMART FORFOUR, which offers 4 places in an also reduced space.

Yeah, they've been around in the UK for five years now and they're still not that common (and I get to see both the South East's countryside and London).

That's not to say they're bad cars - they're basically two-seat Mercedes A-classes, I think, and I was impressed with the A-class when work hired me one. But I'd want more room.

Re:Old known in Europe (1)

ozbon (99708) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923875)

Yeah, in the UK it's distributed by Mercedes, and I think they had quite a lot to do with building/designing it too...

Oh, no, having checked the Smart site [thesmart.co.uk] it's actually part of Daimler/Chrysler.

Re:Old known in Europe (2, Informative)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924024)

You don't follow the auto industry much, do you?

Mercedes is actually Mercedes-Benz, which was a part of Daimler-Benz, which merged with Chrysler corporation to make Daimler-Chrysler. So Maybach, Mercedes, Chrysler, and Dodge cars all come from the same parent corporation. (Don't ask about Ford, they're even worse.)

--Ender

Re:Old known in Europe (3, Interesting)

tincho_uy (566438) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923896)

In fact, it's a joint venture between Daimler-Benz and Swatch (yes, the watch makers), IIRC. It's got Mercedes technology under the hood, and the design is from Swatch ( check http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/pw/05smartc abriolet.htm [canadiandriver.com] for the new cabriolet version)

Re:Old known in Europe (1)

GregWebb (26123) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923941)

What, a more expensive version of a Mitsubishi Colt [mitsubishi-cars.co.uk] ? They're all but identical under the hood.

Want a small, efficient four seater? Try a Honda Jazz [honda.co.uk] or Renault Modus [renault.co.uk] .

Re:Old known in Europe (1)

jjeffrey (558890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923989)

The ForFour is just a jazzed-up Mitsubishi Colt for more money with less kit, IIRC.

for real ? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923845)

serioulsy this wasn't already been sold in the US ????
it'll like 5 years old in europe, third gen model are shipping now

Re:for real ? (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923992)

just wait till they find out they're built in france. i visited the place at one point, there's like an entire village pretending to be a car factory, or the other way around. looks pretty nifty tho.

zap! (5, Funny)

Kratos (782381) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923848)

I believe it folds up into a briefcase for you to take in to the office once you finish your drive. ______ Kratos

Call that a Smart Car...? (5, Funny)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923850)

The FourTwo is OK, but I just got myself one of these babies [thesmart.co.uk] .. a Smart Roadster Couple Brabus. Pretty much all of the fuel ecomomy and a top speed of 120mph. Sorted. Oh yes, you cant't get them in North America for at least a couple of years.. heheh :)

Re:Call that a Smart Car...? (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923890)

Coupé I meant!

Re:Call that a Smart Car...? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923966)

Wrong.

They are available in Canada, right now.

Re:Call that a Smart Car...? (2, Interesting)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923976)

I stand corrected! Buy one.. I've been grinning like a lunatic ever since I got it!

I've owned zap stock in my life, (2, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923855)

if you want a smart car, I'd buy some shares, they are very good about incentives on products to shareholders.

Other considerations (2, Insightful)

JamesD_UK (721413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923857)

How about a a 90 mpg car that can go 60 mph? Wouldn't that better progress?

Re:Other considerations (2, Informative)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923909)

Perhaps in Europe, but not in the US. Where I live, speed limits under 35mph are confined to residential areas. Most in-city streets are 40 or 45, and the highways' traffic flows somewhere between 60 and 70, depending on the time of day. One of these roller skates wouldn't be able to keep up.

Re:Other considerations (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923916)

Not on US freeways. They'd be dangerous.

--RJ

Re:Other considerations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923986)

I can see it now car wreck with one of those and a SUV who do you think lives?

Real Website (3, Informative)

diablero (50462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923863)

Smart car are made by Smart [smart.com]

Re:Real Website (4, Insightful)

RupW (515653) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923881)

Smart car are made by Smart

Sure, but it looks like ZAP are distributing them in the U.S. Or maybe they just need a funkier name - what we Brits call Vauxhall cars the rest of the world call 'Opal'.

But I don't get it: Smart are DaimlerChrysler, and Chrysler's a big US name - ?

Re:Real Website (3, Insightful)

Delirium Tremens (214596) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923967)

The rest of the world calls it Opel.

Re:Real Website (1)

Johan Veenstra (61679) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923972)

Back in the 70's chrysler stated that they would 'never' make small cars. Ofcourse all modern chryslers are small compared to the 60's and 70's land yachts (newport, newyorker, imperial), but calling a smart a Chrysler is a couple of steps too far.

Re:Real Website (1)

jbrw (520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923988)

Australia's not part of the rest of the world? It's Holden over there (cue post-war advertisment song: "Holdin' you in my Holden...")

Oh, and it's Opel, not Opal:

http://www.gm.com/automotive/vehicle_shopping/worl dwide_sites/ [gm.com]

Oh, and a quick Google has the BBC dispelling the story of the Russian's naming their station phonetically after Vauxhall station:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/community/fun/entry _51.shtml [bbc.co.uk]

My day is ruined. :(

It's not authorised by DCX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923993)

ZAP gets the cars from European dealers. DCX has nothing to do with it, because they feel that there is not enough demand to balance the risks. ZAP thinks different and does it on its own.

Re:Real Website (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923999)

and Chrysler's a big US name - ?

Chrysler!

(What do I win?)

Re:Real Website (1)

DjReagan (143826) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924002)

what we Brits call Vauxhall cars the rest of the world call 'Opal'.

Not all of it. "Holden [holden.com.au] " is the brand name a lot of Vauxhall models go under in Australia.

Re:Real Website (1)

Mugros (811343) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924016)

what we Brits call Vauxhall cars the rest of the world call 'Opal'.

FYI, it is called "Opel" in Europe and "Holden" in Australia.

Re:Real Website (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924005)

Also Smart is owned by Daimler-Chrysler (Mercedes) they hold 100% of the company.

"Zap"??? (4, Informative)

Tet (2721) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923864)

From the Smart homepage:
Smart is manufactured and marketed in Europe by an unaffiliated party and made US/CA compliant by DMC.

That "unaffiliated party" is Mercedes Benz (and hence ultimately, Daimler Chrysler). I wonder why they don't seem to want to market it themselves, and are relying on Zap instead. Worried about it being a flop in the US and not wanting to damage their reputation, perhaps?

Re:"Zap"??? (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923942)

Worried about losing money in a market where small cars are notoriously unpopular more like it.

Re:"Zap"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923990)

When I lived in Europe, "made compliant" meant adding required things like emission controls, side door reinforcements, and speedometers marked in mph. I think I'd rather have a car designed from the beginning to US crash standards.

I don't see it listed at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [dot.gov] but perhaps I missed it.

Who needs this shit?? (-1, Troll)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923866)

Who needs this shit? This is the same crap like the European "smart" car, another vehicle with near zero survivability in a crash and as uncomfortable a driving experience as can be.

Re:Who needs this shit?? (3, Informative)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923891)

Have you ever been in one? I drove one last week and it was surprisingly comfortable (I'm 1.86m, so hardly tiny).

Re:Who needs this shit?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923899)

They are pretty safe cars. UKs fifth gear plowed one into a solid brick wall at 70mph and the driver cell came off intact. Even the doors opened and closed.

Re:Who needs this shit?? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923906)

When you're stuck in city traffic for hours at a time you dont need 2 tonnes of metal around you to survive a 2mph crash.

Re:Who needs this shit?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923907)

I assuming that you have never been in a smart car as they are actually quite comfortable. I am 6'2" and have no problems with leg room or driving position.

Re:Who needs this shit?? (2, Informative)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923908)

It's called "Smart" for a reason. The whole thing is based around a nearly-indestructable safety cage like an F1 car. They are incredibly safe. Yeah, a bit strange to drive though.

Re:Who needs this shit?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923910)

near zero survivability

Please, have you seen the crash test specs/results? if not, pipe down.

as uncomfortable a driving experience as can be

Have you ever driven in one? if not pipe down.

Maybe this car isn't suitible for your use, but don't assume is isn't suitible for everyone. It is ideal for driving round towns and in busy streets where there is little parking.

ZAP? (1)

rooijan (746599) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923870)

Who are ZAP?

Here in South Africa the cars had Mercedes badges attached. They've been here for years - I'm suprised that they haven't been available in the US until now.

Re:ZAP? (3, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923915)

Keep in mind that in the US market small cars generally don't sell well, so nobody have wanted to push them in the US to any extent before, whereas in the rest of the world people care more about fuel consumption and don't mind (and in urban areas often see it as an advantage) if the car is small.

smae 'SMART' as the one sold by Mercedes (2, Insightful)

UnderAttack (311872) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923872)

Is this the same 'SMART' car as the one sold by Mercedes in Europe? Sure looks like it, but I can't see any reference to that.

Re:smae 'SMART' as the one sold by Mercedes (1)

NoSuchGuy (308510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923948)

Looks like.

Smart is manufactured and marketed in Europe by an unaffiliated party and made US/CA compliant by DMC.

If not marketing and legal department of smart (or Mercedes Benz North America) would unleash hell for using the brandname "smart" (all lower case).

I wonder why they are allowed to write "smart" with a capital "S"

Re:smae 'SMART' as the one sold by Mercedes (3, Interesting)

nordicfrost (118437) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923973)

Yes, it is Smart. It is a truly cool little car but sadly not very good in our (Norway) winter conditions. A coworker had the terrifying experience of sliding down a loooong hill sideways on snow with this baby. And winter tyres.

Re:smae 'SMART' as the one sold by Mercedes (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924018)

Is this the same 'SMART' car as the one sold by Mercedes in Europe? Sure looks like it, but I can't see any reference to that.

It is, yes. The engine is made by Mercedes. They've been around for quite some time here; economical, quick and fun. The roll cage is enormously strong, the body panels (which are plastic) just pop onto it. Two seats only but a lot of luggage room.

erm ..... no (3, Interesting)

thempstead (30898) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923873)

We've had these, or things that look just like these in the UK for quite some time. Looking cool in, IMHO, would not really be possible .... and of course there is the question that people ponder over about whether if one was stopped suddenly it would start rolling end of end .... :)

t

Re:erm ..... no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923943)

But they are ideal for nipping round town in, so easy to park and cheap to run :)

For the futures cities (crowed, always rush hour) they seem ideal.

Cool looking, huh? (3, Funny)

cbqwinner (152547) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923874)

If this thing looks "cool" to you, I'd hate to see what wasn't cool....

Smart cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923879)

We have had them in the UK for a couple of years.

Most people would agree that they look quite handy for getting around in cities, but they look a bit weird, and they have very little luggage space, so hardly anyone actually buys them.

I honestly can't see them taking off in the states. Too small & too well engineered* ;-)

*Yeah I know British cars are crap, which is why we all buy Japanese and German.

In a Yugo.... (1, Troll)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923880)

Great. Y'all run out and buy one. I'll stick with a real vehicle. 20 miles a gallon doesn't bother me too much.

Can't Honda bring something like the CRX back? Didn't those get like 55mpg, while being a halfway substantial car (albeit for only two people)?

As for its appearance, "cool" is a very subjective term.

Re:In a Yugo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923982)

20 miles a gallon doesn't bother me too much

It would if the fuel your car uses cost more (petrol ("gas") is currenly about US$6.50/gallon in the UK), and as time gone on it will cost even more. (Oil is a finite resource and more people than ever want it).

Old news. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923886)

These cars have been driving around in Europe for a few years allready.

They are better than you'd expect from such a small package, allso more expensive than you'd expect.

Zap don't build them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923894)

Zap must be some kind of marketing company, these cars are manufactured by Daimler Chrysler. They're sold under the 'Smart' brand in Europe. In the UK most Benz dealers have them.

Before all the yanks start with 'Wouldn't fancy that against a Humvee' - These performed very very well in the NCAP tests, in faireness, I wouldn't fancy anything VS humvee, these cars are certainly no worse than your usual run of the mill.

Zap's? (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923897)

What does ZAP add to Mercedes' version?

roll cages with covers (3, Informative)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923903)

I have already seen some posts about how "dangerous" these cars will be in the states when sharing the road with the "killer" SUVs and such-- but let me dispell some prejudices:

1. SMART cars are essentially big roll cages with coverings for the hood, door, and roof. They are quite safe for the riders should there be an accident. Moreover, they are engineered to "bounce" away from an oncoming impact.

2. With the engines placed as they are, a front-end collision does not put the block in the drivers lap (and crush his legs).

3. I would much much much rather be in one of these than some crumplicious dwarf from Ford

Re:roll cages with covers (0)

Skater (41976) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923958)

How does a car bounce away from an oncoming impact?

If you mean it bounces away during the impact, then I'll stick with a regular car. The last thing I need is my car to be ping-ponging around, ready to cause another accident. I already have enough neck problems.

If you mean it bounces away before the impact...that's pretty cool tech! Or maybe you just mean that it's supposed to be easier to avoid the impact?

--RJ

Re:roll cages with covers (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923984)

WTF, are you stupid?

It's usually not the external impact that kills you. It's your organs getting bashed around inside your body. Remember, your organs are moving at 40 MPH along with your body. If your body suddenly starts "bouncing" around that's the worse possible action. A hard roll cage design just is not a good idea in low speed (60 MPH) accidents.

In a collision the vehicle with more mass wins. Even a little Ford Escort has a 2 to 1 weight advantage against this Zapper thing.

Trust me, you don't want to "bounce" in an accident. (ask any motorcycle rider who has been hit by a car) Just wait until you "bounce" into oncoming traffic.

Re:roll cages with covers (2, Insightful)

sifi (170630) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924007)

They may very well remain fully in tact - but just as cruical in a crash is the deceleration rate of the occupants. The "bounce" would only serve to make this worse.

What it lacks are crumple zones which reduce the deceleration rate.

The ideal design for a safe car is a large crumple zone (=length) with a ridged cage to protect the occupants.

MSRP? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923905)

Does anyone know what these things might go for in the US?

Comparison... (2, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923919)

If I was in the market for a 2-seat super-efficient car, why would I buy one from a manufacturer that has limited support/service options?

Compare the Zap to Honda's Insight
http://automobiles.honda.com/models/model _overview .asp?ModelName=Insight
60/66 mpg city/highway
(I can't view the Toyota Prius because of evil plugin-requirements.)

Honda, has a proven track record of quality automobiles.
Zap, in Europe? I don't know. Colour me ignorant.

Re:Comparison... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10924019)

Honda, has a proven track record of quality automobiles.

Daimler has the longest possible record. They build the very first car.

I hired one for a week (5, Interesting)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923934)

For a holiday with my missus driving around Southern Germany looking at stuff. It could cruise at 80mph, there was plenty of headroom (I'm 6'4", but had several inches spare over my head), enough room for luggage, it all felt slick and solid. I did have to ensure some scoffing about my lack of manliness from German friends though :-( I calculated fuel efficiency at the end of the week and it was ~67 mpg.

On the downside because the car is rather high and narrow (think two mopeds bolted together side by side), I'm told they can be scarey in side-winds.

Very Popular (5, Interesting)

HeyBob! (111243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923937)

In Canada, Mercedes isn't even marketing them - there's a long waiting list, without them even spending a dime on advertising.

Crash Test (2, Informative)

jjeffrey (558890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923951)

Fifth Gear (a UK TV program) recently did a crash test between a remote-control-rigged smart car and a concrete barrier at 70mph, then did the same with an Opel/Vauxhal Corsa (GM's European mini car).

The Smart Car did as well as the Corsa - the occupant wouldn't have been squished, but in both cases the g-force would probably have killed them. The thing about the Smart though is the crumple zones are very small, so although the body stays rigid, there is less to absorb the force, so, unscientifically, I would imagine that the car would stop anything up to twice as quickly (half the crumple zone length...) meaning twice the G-Force, and half the chance to live.

As for looking cool - well over here in Britain I think most of us got bored quickly... especially with those people that insisted on having cow skin print Smarts :-S

Safe and Clean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923952)

Bizarre that it took so long for a car as clean and safe (see http://www.euroncap.com - this car is safer than a Dodge Neon or Voyager...) as this to be passed in the US, where road safety and average fuel consumption is now far worse than it was 20 years ago, thanks to SUVs...

Unusual definition of "looks cool" (1)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923960)

...Finally a 60 mpg car that can go 90 mph and look cool at the same time!!...

If we're going to talk about a Daimler-Chrysler product that looks cool, how about this [dodge.com] . The Zap looks like a golf cart with a good paintjob.

Cost? (1)

martinde (137088) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923965)

Anyone know how much they cost? Anyone driven one?

(cough) Look cool? (1)

Mr. Cancelled (572486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923971)

Have you seen the images of the car?

It might look "different", and "futuristic", but it by no means looks cool to me. It looks like some bastard offspring of a VW Beetle, and a British Mini.

If you want a car that looks cool, I suggest going here [lamborghini.co.uk] . (just my 2 bits...)

Why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10923979)

What kind of faggot-ass liberal cunt would drive that piece of shit? I'd rather drive a Yugo.

Did the coupe get approved? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#10923985)

Its nice they got the dinky one approved, but did the coupe thingie get approved as well?

That might be worth having, but the stupid looking one? Nah.. no thanks.

To counter the negativty... (4, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924004)

I can see a lot of negative comments at the moment, so I thought I'd add my own (UK-based) opinion.

I've always been an in-principle fan of these SMARTs. I haven't driven one, but I've been inside one at various motor shows and there's plenty of space for two plus shopping or weekend luggage. You're not going to go trans-America with it, but to think about in that way is missing the point.

It makes an excellent city car. There are a decent number kicking around in London, and I seem to remember seeing even more when I was Hamburg a few years ago. In the city, you don't care about 90mph, you care that you can pull out nippily, find a parking space and turn round. This is the best answer I've seen since the original Mini (or maybe the Renault Twingo - never did understand why that didn't make it to the UK).

I'm actively considering swapping a Jaguar X-Type for one. Reason? My car mainly drives me to the train station in the morning and back, and a Jag is total overkill for that. We have an S-Type also for weekend trips or serious travel...why have two cars that do the same job? Only thing holding me back at the moment is a concern about its ability to cope with bad weather.

No, I'm seriously interested in these.

Cheers,
Ian

linky information (1)

yivi (236776) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924011)

These cars are awesome, and incredibly cool. The amount of options you have when you choose outside/inside colors/textures is amazingly wide.

But not everybody fall in love with its bubble shape, of course

Check this [betterproductdesign.net] .

is the US a market for these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10924017)

Surely they have enough of a hard time selling more euro-centric compacts like the Ford Focus in the US? A tinier car would surely be a hard sell. Long distances, rather than short city hops being what seems to influence American buying power.

As for safety, I'd be as happy in one of these than anything short of a big Volvo. They drove one into a concerete block at 75mph (by remote control) on UK tv programme 'Fifth Gear' a few weeks ago, and it came out of it pretty well.

Incidentally, there's some think-tank today bemoaning [autoindustry.co.uk] the penchant for consumers to buy ridiculously huge cars, on health and environmental reasons. They argue that proportionately more damage to the environment through gas-guzzling, and health (deaths through running people over, etc) is caused by larger cars than smaller cars. Film at 11.

Gas Prices (1)

malus (6786) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924020)

I saw these all over the place when I travelled to Italy in late 2000. When I got back, I showed some of the photos I took to my jeep dealer, who was familiar with the car (it's made by Daimler/Chrysler, just like my jeep), and he was even familiar with the car.

He said the only way D/C would bring the car to the states was if they could a) get it to pass US emissions standards (looks like they did), and b) gas prices skyrocketed (looks like they did)

I do plan on buying one of these. It'll fit in my garage WITH my jeep.

The Brabus Smart Roadster... (1)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 9 years ago | (#10924022)

Now a decent Smart car is the Brabus version of the roadster.

I think the petrol engine is something like a 0.7 litre 3 cylinder with a low pressure turbo.. Brabus made 6 proof of concepts with basically two of the engines welded together to produce a twin turbo V6. And being as they weigh nothing it went like absolute stink.. even the wheels they used looked really nice as well.

Some piccies here :

http://www.fast-autos.net/brabus/brabusroadster. ht ml

Shame they'll never make it as a production car really. Its the only Smart i'd ever own ;)
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