Be smart, don’t buy a smart car


Many years ago in a land far, far away (sometimes called Germany), a designer thought it would be a great joke if he could persuade really large people to get inside really small cars. The trick he decided to use was calling the cars “smart”. The inference was that the people who paid for the privilege of squeezing themselves inside these insanely small spaces were themselves smart. Just like those who were queuing up to buy Swatch watches, people wanted to be able to congratulate themselves for being clever, for understanding they could make a difference to the world by buying a green car. Why green? Because it used less resources to make and burned very little gas (no matter how heavy the people inside). For the record, the first smart cars were sold by Daimler.

the picture above, the first thing to notice is the smug expression of the driver. This is the answer to climate change and rising gas prices. It may look like a baby stroller and be overpriced, but this driver is saving the world and is able to broadcast it to all her friends just by being seen in it. Remember, if you are smart enough to pay the extra money to own this tiny machine, there are no downsides. Everything is going your way (so long as they are on the same side of the road as you).

Are there actually downsides?


If you are only doing 40 mph and traveling in a straight line, there’s nothing to worry about. But if you speed up and risk a highway, you are likely to find the wake of passing trucks is going to throw you around the road. Think what it used to be like in old cars when a strong wind blew. Well, this has no weight to hold you to the road. Worse, because it’s so much smaller than any other vehicles on the road, it tends to be crushed if anything hits it. Although it has bumper front and rear, they are lower than those fitted on every other vehicle so they just hit the smart car where the passengers sit. They get 3/5 stars on the safety ratings.

Then there’s the fuel economy. All the smart cars do more than 30 miles per gallon which is pretty good, but not nearly as impressive as the figures returned by hybrids or really green cars like those all-electric vehicles you plug in. And don’t forget you can only have one passenger. This encourages all your friends to buy their own smart cars so they can all save the planet at the same time and not by car-sharing which would have saved more gas. And don’t forget there’s no trunk so you can’t carry any baggage with you as you travel around America (at 40 mph on country roads).

So there you have it: a perfect set of reasons why you should not by a smart car. If you want a green car in which to impress your friends, buy a safer hybrid.

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