The SMART Car is here!
Published05/28/2008 by John Lewis
Drive the streets of Paris, Rome, Barcelona or London and you'll see the smart fortwo has become more than just fuel efficient transportation - it has become the "it" car in many countries throughout the world. In fact, we could say that the over 900,000 smart fortwos sold in 36 other countries are now a worldwide statement on innovation, intelligence, functionality and the simple joy of driving. Now the United States has joined the party.
In January 2008 smart arrived to the States leaving its exhibit space at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (it is one of only six cars in the world to achieve this distinction and the only one still in production and on sale today).Preparations for the smart fortwo began in the early 1990's with a Joint Venture between Mercedes-Benz and Swatch, the makers of Swatch watches known for their wide array of colorful designs. Nicolas Hayek, the inventor of the Swatch watch brought his ideas for an "ultra-urban" car to Mercedes-Benz.
Smart USA, a division of Penske Automotive Group, is the exclusive distributor for smart in North America and Puerto Rico. smart USA is headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Mercedes-Benz took on this engineering challenge with the outcome of one of the most innovative cars ever introduced.Full development of the concept started in 1994 and the smart fortwo debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in 1997. The response was fantastic. The smart fortwo garnered more print space and TV coverage than any other car at the show.Production began in 1998 in Hambach, France. That same year, smart became a 100% owned subsidiary of Daimler-Benz AG.The challenge of the smart fortwo design started with the approach to safety. The tridion safety cell was Mercedes-Benz's answer for a small car that can meet high safety standards. The tridion safety cell is a "hard shell" that surrounds the smart fortwo's occupants with an energy displacing system of longitudinal and transverse structural members. Then the engineering team added Electronic Stability Control (esp) and ABS brakes to make the smart even more technologically advanced.
Other innovations like the selection of energy efficient and recyclable materials, the removable door panels (you have many options to change color of your smart as you desire) and a high driving position for great visibility and easy entry in a small car combined to make smart a true revolution in driving style.Since its introduction the smart product range has continued to expand and now includes a sporty cabriolet model. And the innovation continues. We're constantly pushing the envelope of automotive design to keep smart at the leading edge
The Smart Car has a unique appearance -- it looks almost like a cube on wheels, with the front edge trimmed down. However, that high length-to-width ratio helps the Fortwo corner with a greater degree of stability. The Smart Car's designers also gave it a three-cylinder engine that provides enough power because the car only weighs about 1500 pounds (the updated version of the Fortwo, slated for a 2008 release, will have different stats). It's easily one of the lightest four-wheeled vehicles on the road. '
One of the major problems with very small, light automobiles is that they can be unsafe in a collision. The Smart solution is the Tridion steel safety shell. This hemispherical steel "cage" encloses the interior of the car and also forms the bulk of the Smart's chassis. A small energy-absorbing crumple zone at the front of the car lessens impacts, and the engine lives in the trunk of the car instead of the front. While a 1,500-lb. car will never be as safe for the occupants as a larger vehicle, the Tridion shell holds up remarkably well in crash tests. A 70 mph crash test conducted by British TV show "Top Gear" revealed that the Smart Fortwo's body remained mostly intact when compared to that of a conventional subcompact car. A sudden deceleration from 70 mph will cause injury of the occupants in just about any vehicle.
The Tridion frame also provides a distinct element of style to the Smart Car. Most of the frame shows through to the outside of the car. The rest of the Smart's body comprises replaceable, recyclable body panels. They are so easy to change that Smart owners can quickly change the color of their car when they get tired of one color scheme.