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Friday, May 9, 2008

Get Smart

Europe is the stage for the emergence of Smart cars. If you’ve seen the movie the Da Vinci Code, you probably saw how the female protagonist was able to elude all those policemen by snaking through heavy traffic in her small, but surprisingly fast, car. That was in France. In places like London and Paris, Smart cars are very popular because they are very practical to drive in congested streets. This, plus the fact that Smart cars are integrated with new technologies, did not elude the US market. A couple of years ago, the same model that you saw in the Da Vinci Code was introduced in the US.

Now, there are various new models that are set to debut in Europe and are expected to take the world by storm. One of these is Norwegian-owned Th!nk’s lithium-ion battery powered car. That is the same kind of battery you would often find on cellular phones; although the one that you’ll find on this vehicle is probably a lot larger. The battery is developed by A123 sytems and Enerdel and is expected to last for 180 km (city) as long as it has been charged for a minimum of 8 hours. And unlike other electric cars, it does not even need to be charged when not in use. And if you think that it is sluggish just by the looks of it, then you are mistaken. Th!nk says that it tops out at 100 km/h. It even takes little effort to maintain as compared to your run-of-the-mill gasoline-powered vehicle. It is set to debut in the UK market in autumn of this year and its msrp will be around £14,000.

Th!nk Lithium-Ion Battery Powered Car
In the US, Smart cars may not be as popular as it is in cities like London, Rome and Paris but people are beginning to get smart and getting one. Mercedes introduced one that has three cylinders and it scores about 30 mpg in the city and as much as 40 mpg on the highway. That is twice as much as what you can get from an SUV, and even a family sedan. It may take twice as much time get to where you are going if you are accustomed to driving fast cars, but then again for a dollar or less for a complete 8 hour charge, who’s gonna complain about the speed difference? It’s all about the math. For a gallon of gasoline, you’ll shell out about $3.20 and you will get about 25-35 km. But with a Smart car, all you have to do is plug it in for 8 hours (that costs about $0.60 cents to $1 on an electric bill) and you can drive it for almost 100 km, or in the case of the Th!nk vehicle mentioned above, 180 km in the city. Hybrid Smart cars also are very economical. You can get over 40 mpg even while driving at 60-70 mph. With the hype being generated by these cars, it is no surprise that there is a long wait list.

There are drawbacks. No one is denying that. It’s small, definitely not as flashy as your average vehicle, it seats only two people and there is little room for cargo. But its advantages definitely outweigh most of the disadvantages. You will be able to save up on gas money. And it’s practical to drive in the city where locating a parking space can be very taxing. You will also have no problems with the seating capacity if you only use it to go to work or to the grocery store. It is guaranteed to be safe notwithstanding its compact size because numerous tests have been conducted before it was mass-produced. All in all, it is a smart choice.

Source: ClimateChangeCorp