Are Smart cars smart? The pros and cons of microcars | Grid Chicago

3 Фев 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
car Smart K

Are Smart cars smart? The and cons of microcars

[This also appeared in Checkerboard John’s weekly transportation in Newcity magazine, which the streets in print on Thursdays.]

no secret that I dislike or rather Chicago’s over-dependence on Privately owned autos, big ones, contribute to all kinds of in our region, including traffic congestion, climate change, and urban sprawl. Car parking up valuable land, with on-street parking alone an area roughly the size of Park, not to mention the hundreds of used for parking lots. The Mayor Daley carved up the with expressways and allowed Sullivan masterpieces to be razed for and an eight-lane superhighway cuts off from one of our city’s greatest the lake shore.

On the other there are understandable reasons why might want to purchase an as opposed to occasionally renting one or a car-sharing service. These long commutes to distant or suburbs that might be by other modes, the ability to rides to friends and family, the to haul gear around road trips to Wisconsin and I do believe there’s such a as responsible car ownership, and it’s to include driving, along walking, cycling, transit and in your toolbox of transportation

But a large percentage of Chicago car involve only one or two occupants. So for who feel they need to own a could two-seat “microcars” the Smart car. a Mercedes-Benz help mitigate some of the aspects of driving? These vehicles, measuring about feet long by five wide, go against the grain of traditional “bigger is better”

I recently caught a TV ad for the Smart politicians, businessmen, and a Beyoncé-like diva extolling the virtues of big, big.” At the end of the spot, a man gazes out a boardroom window, the miniature car pull up and exclaims wide-eyed wonder, “Small!” by the tagline, “The space-saving, totally unique Smart. Uncar.”

Intrigued, last month I up to Loeber Motors. a Smart and dealership in north-suburban Lincolnwood, for a drive. When I get there, Becker, the mild-mannered salesman, me to a sporty, red-and-black convertible. I into the cockpit-like seating and take the car for a spin around the I’ll confess that the car is a to drive, with its go-kart-like and super-tight turning radius. the top down, I’m caressed by the breeze as I by a carnival in a nearby park and at flags of many nations along Lincoln Avenue. And the thing is a no-brainer to parallel

Afterward I sit down in the mod showroom Becker to discuss the selling and possible societal benefits of the The basic Pure coupe starts at about $14,400 the Cabriolet convertible runs $19,000-$22,000. Due to their relatively weight and efficient engines, cars get thirty-five to forty per gallon in the city and forty-four to on the highway, about twice the of a mid-size Mercedes, Becker me.

Bobby Becker.

The European of the Smart, with a three-cylinder engine, gets even mileage than its American about seventy to seventy-five per gallon on the highway and in the mid-sixties in the Becker says. The diesel are not available in the states yet due to United regulations, but he predicts the law will soon and the diesel cars may here in the next year or He adds that a full-electric will be available by this with a ninety-five to 110-mile per charge, estimating it will in the low-to-mid-$30,000 range.

Economic and environmental issues are the cars practical and safe to on expressways and interstates? “You can ‘em anywhere you would drive a car,” Becker says. have a top speed of ninety per hour. I’d hop in one right now and drive it to California—no worries, no issues, no

car Smart K

He says the Smart received safety ratings from the Institute for Highway Safety due to its design. “On bigger cars got mass,” he says. “The is essentially like driving a car a giant roll cage you.” Becker also with my hypothesis that lighter cars pose of a danger to pedestrians and people on than big ones.

Smart car cage.”

As for the Smart’s potential to the amount of land paved for parking, he says in Europe common to see three of the microcars perpendicular to the curb in the space of one parallel parking space. part of the fun of the car, to have a footprint,” he says. Unfortunately a ordinance prohibits parking perpendicular to the curb in a parallel

For a different perspective I contacted Feigon, head of I-GO, the company run by the local nonprofit for Neighborhood Technology. and a Grid sponsor. “Even though a car-sharing service, our first to the problems of mobility and congestion is strategies,” she says. “Smaller are not the solution, but I do think they’re a in the right direction.”

Sharon at the I-GO holiday party December.

I-GO’s roster of vehicles, about half of are hybrid or electric, also the Fiat 500. another microcar. About the same and gas mileage as a Smart, it starts at “They’re very popular our customers because they’re efficient, they’re small and cute,” she says.


“The main point is we need to put a lot of effort into sure people have a lot of options so they don’t to own cars,” Feigon concludes. if they do feel the need to own the best car is the most efficient one you can

car Smart K
car Smart K
car Smart K

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