Posted by: David Kiley on March 30, 2006
It’s hard to imagine that a brand called “Smart” would do well in the U.S. After all, we are the dumbest country on the planet when it comes to taking care of our natural resources, though China is catching up. And the U.S. is full of people, many in our own government, who deny global warming. Then there are people who buy preposterous vehicles like the Hummer H2 and Ford Excursion. And while vehicles like the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon are necessary for people who pull boats and horse trailers, just as many buy them because they have irrational and selfish insecurities about riding around in anything smaller than a tank.
This brings me to the Smart. A few years ago I had the pleasure of driving around a diesel-powered Smart Fortwo for a week around Metro Detroit. I have to say…even as I drove the length of Rt. 94 and 96 between Ann Arbor and Detroit, changing lanes around trucks and Hummers, I loved it. I didn’t feel insecure at all. It was a pleasure. And one of the most pleasurable things about it was the knowledge that I wasn’t driving more car than I need 98% of the time.
U.S. cities are the obvious best markets for these cars, just as in Europe. New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington DC were made for these beauties, which can be parked nose to curb and without sticking out any more than a Tahoe.
Most car trips are under 3 miles. Far more car trips are with single drivers than not. And for this we need Hummers, Excursions and Tahoes? Does it not seem irrational that most of us buy these gigantic vehicles for maybe 2-3% of our driving needs?
Call me a tree-hugger, but I can’t help thinking these things when I see evidence staring me in the face that, for example, Glacier National Park in Montana will probably be glacier free in about thirty years. And the melting polar ice caps will probably turn the Bush family compound in Maine into a coral reef by mid century.