SMART Cars in the United States

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Kent, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. Kent

    Kent Guest

    This evening I saw a series of posts in the Hyundai group questioning
    why the SMART is not available for sale here in the United States. I
    have seen them on trips to England, and they are most interesting.

    I lost the thread, but I have found this partial answer to the basic
    question on the Net. It may be all wishful thinking by these folks,
    but here it is:

    1. What type of fuel does the Smart Car use?
    Unleaded regular gasoline, 87 Octane. ZAP is focused on models that
    use unleaded gasoline, but some models are powered by diesel fuel.
    It’s not electric and not a hybrid, but the size and power rating make
    it one of the most efficient internal combustion cars in production
    today, rivaling the efficiency of the current hybrids in America.

    2. When will the Smart Car Americanized by ZAP be available?
    Soon, but at ZAP we foresee a huge public demand for this car for
    which there may not be enough initial supply to satisfy. Through a
    registered import company, ZAP is beginning to distribute cars through
    authorized and technically trained dealers. Visit our website at to register your purchase interest and when the cars
    become available in your area, we will arrange for you to be alerted
    about any purchase opportunities.

    3. Where can you buy a Smart Car Americanized by ZAP?
    Our goal is to open an auto dealership in your neighborhood where you
    would be able to see, test-drive and buy the Smart Car Americanized by
    ZAP. ZAP is in the process of mapping out distribution for a complete
    line of cars through a distribution network of ZAP Authorized
    Retailers. ZAP Auto Dealerships will be pioneers in marketing the next
    generation of transportation, targeting marketing opportunities for
    energy efficient and advanced automotive technologies.

    4. How much does the Smart Car Americanized by ZAP cost?
    The Smart Car Americanized by ZAP will be available through selected
    auto dealers. The cars come with a multitude of options, accessories
    and sub-models, so prices may vary subject to options and
    availability. Our initial supply includes many with luxury features,
    so pricing may be in the $25,000 range.

    5. What is the fuel economy of the Smart Car?
    According to the EPA the Smart Car Americanized by ZAP is one of the
    most fuel-efficient cars available. Fuel-efficiency can vary depending
    on road conditions and vehicle operation. Visit
    for European test data.

    6. How can I become a ZAP dealer?
    The timing has never been better to become a dealer for advanced
    technology vehicles and ZAP is currently approaching existing auto
    dealers to become dealers for ZAP Cars and other vehicles. If you are
    an auto dealer or know someone who is, ZAP is recruiting
    dealers who will drive the future of transportation by becoming
    leaders in their community for the next generation of automotive
    technologies that are fun, practical and follow our philosophy of Zero
    Air Pollution (ZAP). Contact ZAP Dealer Development at (707) 525-8658.

    7. How/why is ZAP able to sell it in the U.S.?
    The Smart Car is manufactured in Europe where gasoline is $4 or more
    per gallon. It has been on the market in most parts of the world since
    1998, but to date has not been made available in the United States.
    ZAP took the initiative to bring the car to the United States through
    certified direct importers to make them available in the U.S. with
    full certification and no exemptions. ZAP has forged an exclusive
    technology licensing agreement with Smart-Automobile LLC allowing the
    certification of the Smart Car to U.S. EPA and DOT standards as well
    as the distribution rights to market the car.

    8. The Smart Car Americanized by ZAP is so small; is it safe?
    The designers of the Smart Car applied simple laws of physics to
    create a smaller car that takes automotive safety to a whole new
    level. In a collision, the car reacts in a different way than larger,
    conventional cars. The spherical geometry of the vehicle’s “tridion
    safety cell” is an aluminum safety-cage with steel reinforcements that
    is designed to hold its shape like the crash-cage of a racecar. The
    lighter weight combined with wheel wells in the four corners and
    safety features like dual airbags, anti-lock brakes and more results
    in a car that is safer than cars much larger than it.

    9. How fast is the Smart Car Americanized by ZAP? Can it travel on the
    85 MPH. The Smart Car Americanized by ZAP is now legal on most U.S.
    road and freeways, but designers governed the top speed to enhance the
    fuel efficiency. Today’s urban drivers rarely have an opportunity to
    reach freeway speeds and the Smart Car was designed with this in mind.
    What it gives up in top speed, the car makes up for in drivability and
    handling. The 6-speed, on-demand manual/automatic electronic
    transmission combined with electronic stabilization creates sporty
    package that is fun to drive.
    Kent, Apr 29, 2006
  2. Kent

    Kent Guest


    In further research I found the following US dealers:


    3D Auto Wholesalers, Inc.
    813 N. Scottsdale Road
    Scottsdale, AZ 85257

    Tel: (602) 318-4211
    Fax: (480) 821-7766


    Elizabeth RV and Automotive Center Inc
    Contact: S.T. (Satyendra) Tripathi
    5475 Highway 86 Unit 1 and 2
    Elizabeth, CO 80107

    Tel: (303)646-8810


    ZAP of Palm Beach/ Foreign Affairs Auto
    1681 North Military Trail
    West Palm Beach, FL 33409

    Tel: (561) 478-9999 Main
    Fax: (561) 689-7000


    Rajun Cajun Used Cars & ZAP! of Reno
    2615 Wrondel Way
    Reno, NV 89502

    Tel: (775) 828-5121
    Fax: (775) 828-5322

    Sprads RV and Auto Center
    Contact: Keith Spradling
    10000 South Virginia
    Reno, NV 89511

    Tel: (775)852-0606
    Fax: (775)852-0770

    New Hampshire

    McFarland Ford Sales, Inc.
    Contact: Sue McFarland
    151 Portsmouth Ave
    Exeter, NH 03833

    Tel: (603)772-5953
    Fax: (603)772-1144


    Ferrante Motor Cars
    Contact: Anthony Ferrante
    601 Jackson Avenue
    Vandergrift, PA 15690

    Tel: (724) 567-5675
    Toll-Free: (800) 715-5675
    Fax: (724) 567-5531


    Green Car Company, LLC
    11630 Slater Avenue NE #3
    Kirkland, WA 98034

    Tel: (425) 820-4549
    Fax: (425) 825-1255
    Kent, Apr 29, 2006
  3. I've see two Smart Cars here in Nashua, NH. One is a rolling billboard
    for a tanning salon and has Ontario plates on it. The other appeared to
    be privately owned and had temporary NH plates on it.

    If these ZAP people are for real, the Smart Car is a complete waste of
    money. At that price, it would take hundreds of thousands of miles - and
    probably decades of driving - to recover the $10-$12,000 difference in
    price through fuel savings, compared to buying an Accent or similar
    compact/sub-compact car. I seriously doubt that a Smart Car would last
    long enough for that.
    Brian Nystrom, Apr 29, 2006
  4. Kent

    Matt Whiting Guest

    What is the fuel mileage? I finally navigated their web site (and what
    a joke it is) enough to find a place where it said that fuel mileage for
    the USA wasn't yet available.

    I like their claims about "using physics" to make it safer than larger
    cars. I really want to see the crash tests. I absolutely agree that
    having a protective "cocoon" for the occupants is essential. However,
    you also need a mechanism to decelerate that cocoon at a reasonable
    rate. I believe that ZAP has accomplished the former, but I don't
    believe they can do the latter. They simply don't have enough structure
    between the "cage" and the front bumper. This car is going to come to a
    complete stop in about a foot as compared to 2-3 feet for larger
    vehicles. That will place tremendous strain on the occupants. Now if
    they use a five-point belt system like NASCAR, require helmets, neck
    rolls, etc., then maybe you can match the performance of more typical cars.

    Matt Whiting, Apr 29, 2006
  5. Kent

    Ghislain Guest

    smart, according to Mercedez-Benz Canada:
    City estimate: 4.6 l/100 km
    Highway estimate: 3.7 l/100 km (manual)
    3.8 l/100 km (automatic)

    Accent hatchback, according to Hyundai Canada:
    City estimate: 8.1 l/100 km (5-Speed Manual)
    8.9 l/100 km (4-Speed Automatic)
    Highway estimate: 6.5 l/100 km (manual)
    6.2 l/100 km (4-Speed Automatic)

    It looks like the smart is more fuel efficient than the Accent (which is
    much faster). I see quite a few smart where I live and nothing else in that
    price range will attract attention like a smart. This is a good reason for a
    business to buy them (or anyone who wants to go unnoticed). In Canada, the
    starting price of a smart is $3,700 CDN more than an Accent.

    Ghislain, Apr 29, 2006
  6. Let's see what we can find in the U.S.: Car

    I see them selling at about $28K (taxes etc excluded).

    In that same area,

    has a 2005 Hyundai Accent 4dr Sedan GLS Auto listed at $13K:

    Ignoring the fact that the sales tax on the smart car will be
    higher, that's a $15K price difference.

    At the current prices, that translates to about 5,000 more gallons
    of gas.

    Say, you get an average 30 mpg out of the Accent. That translates to
    150,000 miles that the savings can fund.

    Note that, this ignores the interest savings as well.

    On the other hand, I see prices around $20K Canadian mentioned on some
    websites (

    However, the same reviewer also notes:

    Situate a smart behind a large truck or a bus, and it gets
    positively hinky on you, as the front wheels lift and the
    vehicle gets pushed around in the turbulent air.


    But don't forget, for $16,000 (let alone $21,000 for the cabriolet)
    you can buy a very well equipped Toyota Echo Hatch, or even a base
    Mazda3 sedan. They won't have the same cachet, I grant you, but if
    you're thinking the smart's a bargain, these are some
    comparably-priced options. The smart cabriolet will be the cheapest
    convertible on the road, however.

    A. Sinan Unur, Apr 29, 2006
  7. Kent

    Tom Guest

    Yea, it's unfortunate that ZAP has bumped the price up and out of reach of
    reality. The thing costs much less elsewhere.
    Tom, Apr 30, 2006
  8. Actually, it's much more than that, as you you have to figure it out
    based on the the difference in cost per mile, not just the absolute
    number of gallons/miles you could drive with the savings, since you're
    using gas in the Smart Car, too. I did some quick math the other day
    based on $12K difference in price and $3/gallon gas and here are the
    results of how far you would have to drive to make up the price difference:

    50 mpg ($.06/mile) vs 40 mpg ($.075/mile) = 800,000 miles
    50 mpg ($.06/mile) vs 35 mpg ($.0857/mile) = 467,000 miles
    50 mpg ($.06/mile) vs 30 mpg ($.10/mile) = 300,000 miles
    50 mpg ($.06/mile) vs 25 mpg ($.12/mile) = 200,000 miles
    50 mpg ($.06/mile) vs 20 mpg ($.15/mile) = 133,000 miles
    50 mpg ($.06/mile) vs 15 mpg ($.2/mile) = 96,000 miles

    These mileage numbers are arbitrary, but the the same difference in cost
    per mile will yield the same results, regardless of the actual numbers
    involved. Of course, these figures will vary with the cost difference
    between vehicles and the price of gas, but it's pretty clear that it
    would be pretty DUMB to buy a SMART for $12,000 more than another vehicle.

    The same method can be used to compute the payback on a hybrid, which is
    not too good, either.
    Brian Nystrom, May 1, 2006
  9. Kent

    CBX2 Guest

    Mercedes Benz Brought the Smart here several years ago.The corporate
    offices are in Montvale NJ and are about 5 blocks from me.They had a
    parking lot full and even a 2 seater sport model.Some ere on the road as
    they were seen drving around.Car and Driver did a report on one going
    cross country,got a crappy rating.Gas milage ws only 32-40 at best was
    slow no power uncomfortable and couldn't pass US government
    tequirementsa.Mercedes actually CLEARED their parking lot OVERNIGHT when
    the eision was announced.

    CBX2, May 2, 2006
  10. Kent

    Tom Guest

    I just read the Car and Driver blurb on the Smart Car. They admitted that
    it was a 'city' car and that the mileage was disappointing because they
    averaged 84 mph! They had some good things to say about it and some bad
    things that they said MB promised to address. The car isn't a MB, BMW, or
    Rolls, it's a utilitarian means of ciy transportation. They also admitted
    that it was an eye catcher and very unique. Oh well, to each his own.
    Tom, May 7, 2006
  11. Kent

    Tom Guest

    Oh, and the mileage was 37 mpg at 84 mph.
    Tom, May 7, 2006
  12. Kent

    Tom Guest

    I also read that MB pulled the plug on the fourseater version and are
    rethinking the whole thing. Too bad. We'll just keep our heads in the sand
    and feed those V10's.
    Tom, May 7, 2006
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