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Old 10-20-2007, 04:11 PM   #1
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Showing Smart cars in Dallas

Daimler brought Smart cars to Dallas today to show off. They had 5 for people to take very short drives, and 2 more for show, one of which was chopped up. I went looking to do some arguing . And boy, I got some. They're real cagey about just exactly how much mileage the thing gets. All that the official info said was 40+ mpg. They did mention their experience with the Smart was in the neighborhood of 53 MPG. They're still waiting on EPA numbers.

I brought along a Ford Anglia manual with the gas mileage figures of 46 MPG at 50 mph, and 29 MPG at 70 mph. The Ford Anglia also has a 1.0L engine, and very nearly the same weight at about 25 pounds less, but it carries 4 people. Quite a comparable car except for being nearly 50 years older. This one representative (fellow name of Keith) immediately disputed the accuracy of those FE figures. Said the manual was probably by Ford, and therefore likely to be inflated. We pointed out that the manual was by Haynes. I related that our experience with the car bears those numbers out. He ranted on anyway about how manufacturers lie, and it wasn't until the EPA stepped in to test things themselves that anyone had any honest numbers, and that the EPA has recently changed their evaluation methods, so even old EPA numbers are no good, blah blah blah. Then we argued a bit about the changes in gasoline over the last 50 years perhaps affecting FE, that the standards used for measuring FE had changed, etc. He also mentioned speed limits used to be lower, and I told him BS, when that Anglia was first on the road, there were no speed limits at all. His entire manner was defensive and argumentative-- people get that way when they haven't facts at their command to make real arguments. In other areas, notably safety and performance, the Anglia quite obviously cannot compare-- didn't even come with seat belts let alone air bags, and takes forever to accelerate to 60 mph.

The next thing I waved around was a Scangauge II. They would not let me hook it up. Now I can understand objections about there not being time, long line, etc. But Keith really reached on that-- instead of mentioning those problems, he said it could cause the car to stop working, or even ruin it, and then it would be his butt and I'd have to pay the full price for a new Smart car to cover all the damages. He wasn't going to allow it, no way, no how. Keith said that nice and loud all 100 plus people in line could hear. He kept right on yelling, repeating those same objections I suppose because he couldn't think of any more. What a coward. Well, fight fire with fire. I told him that all cars from 1996 on are required by law to have an ODB-II connection, and that any new car that couldn't handle having a code reader hooked up to shouldn't be allowed on the road, as it was unsafe. What I didn't say, but thought very loudly, was if they were that unsure about the reliability of their cars, perhaps TX DOT should shut down their little show until such time as an independent lab could verify that their Smart cars would not self destruct if a code reader was plugged in.

It didn't matter much. Was a 2 hour wait to get a ride, and then you got all of 3 minutes behind the wheel, tooling around a parking lot, hardly a representative trip. Top speed was maybe 30 mph.

Still, I thought what they should have done was the opposite. They should have welcomed the opportunity to have their car checked out. It strikes me that they could even be going out of their way to hide the FE, the way they carried on. No exact figures, a big fat loud "NO" to the Scangauge, lots of marketing hype and very little substance.

I asked whether the American models would be heavier because of US safety regulations, and didn't get any answer except that the models being shown off today were European. They didn't seem to know whether there would be a difference. I'm thinking the Smart car isn't about FE, it's about tight urban parking. I suppose the people running the show were know-nothing loser car salesdroids sorts of people. Even after accounting for the stresses and uncertainties in trying to run a show at which the general public is invited to do the daily activity that of all daily activities is far and away the most dangerous, I thought their handling of a difficult customer (me) was poor.
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:09 PM   #2
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... cliff notes?
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Old 10-21-2007, 12:48 AM   #3
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If the Anglia's FE peaked at 46 IMPERIAL MPG (you did say "Haynes", so the US MPG would be 38) at 50 MPH, and collapsed to 29 IMPERIAL MPG (24 US MPG, LOL) at 70 MPH, then the smart with the 71 HP gas engine will absolutely eat it for breakfast and poop it out before lunchtime on the highway. Those Haynes quotes are useless anyway, if you want to compare them with any other car. They were not done to a standard test protocol that would allow any comparison. No-one in the 50s or 60s was using a standard test protocol.....

The European FE rating "extra-urban" (highway) for the 71 HP gas engine in the fortwo is 4.0 L/100 km (nearly 59 US MPG), and no, the US model will not weigh any more.

Transport Canada is about to certify the 71 HP engine at a standard overall fuel consumption of 5.4 L/100 km (44 US MPG).

So the staff were unfriendly, but it sounds like you went there with more than a little negative attitude, so I am not surprised that your attempted experiment was rebuffed after agruing with the staff for a while.

By the way, the ScanGauge does not work on the old version of the smart with the gasoline engine and I very much doubt it'd work on the new one. And it does cause the cars to throw check engine codes. I'm sure it would not wreck the engine though
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Old 11-01-2007, 04:13 PM   #4
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FE is not Smart's 1st priority

Ahh, you seem to be a fan of the Smart. Very good. But I feel I have legit concerns.

What is the Smart about? Urban living. For the Smart, FE is definitely secondary. You need look no further than the lack of skirts over the rear wheels to see that. If you're still not convinced, ask why they don't have some more precise FE numbers?!! That "waiting on the govt" is a bunch of bull, they darn well could give out some freaking "unofficial" numbers with a proviso. The Smart happens to get pretty good FE (whatever that amount is exactly) because it is a little car. If it was really into FE, it would be a little car because that's what gets good FE, not the other way around. Tossing out the back seat in a big way by designing the car without one is serious downsizing, but I am left with the impression they did it more so you could get into really tight parking spots, and not so much for FE reasons. Nice, but FE was just a bonus, not the main point.

Negative attitude? Perhaps so, but the _good_ sales folk are the ones who can handle it. Now, those guys didn't have facts at their command. That's what I wanted, and I didn't get much of that. Just got marketing hype, and fear of the unknown. That sort of thing does bring out the bad in me . Nevertheless, that guy yelling about how I might have to pay for a new Smart if my gauge broke it, what possible justification could there be for that? I guarantee that outburst made him look to be the hysterical, overheated and stupid one. They should have been taking notes so they could have good answers ready the next time they got asked those questions. Oh well, I suppose I expect too much expecting a sales drone to actually know their products with the deep knowledge that comes only from working with and loving their products for the quality of the design and workmanship. If that was their attitude, they'd be engineers not salespeople.

You've already told me more than they knew. So the US version won't be weighted down for safety reasons, then muscled up to compensate for the extra weight. Good to know that. Also good to see your FE figures. But the other, what's this about the gauge causing it to throw engine codes? Aren't ALL cars from 1996 on supposed to be ODBII compliant? And if the Smart's electronics can't handle a Scangauge, then doesn't that make it not OBDII compliant?

No, your guess about those Haynes figures being imperial gallons is incorrect. They are US gallons. The book was meant for the US as was the car, with the steering wheel on the left. And, we have seen it get 40 mpg routinely. And why do you claim mpg figures from the 50s and 60s are useless? Exactly what the Smart people said. Heck, those Smart people were even ragging on older EPA figures. Those figures are not garbage. They aren't total wild guesses. I venture to suggest they meet the standards of good science in that they are reproducible figures. Don't disregard them just for being old.
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Old 11-01-2007, 05:43 PM   #5
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Yah, I tried dealing with a smart dealer, problem is that they can't keep 'em in stock. They sell themselves so who needs a "smart" salesman?!?
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Old 11-01-2007, 06:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thisisntjared View Post
... cliff notes?
i guess not...
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Old 11-01-2007, 07:29 PM   #7
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Sorry, thisisn'tjared, right over my head. Link?
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Old 11-01-2007, 07:56 PM   #8
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I find it somewhat amusing that even when I'm cruising at the Smart's maximum speed of 90mph, I still get better mileage than the Smart's EPA's highway mileage of 40mpg (I get 48mpg at 90mph). But you could park 2 or 3 Smarts in the parking space that my car takes up.
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Old 11-01-2007, 08:43 PM   #9
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I may be wrong on this, but OBD2 compliance is only strictly required for cars intended for sale in the US market. The original smart was never destined for the US, so the fact that it has issues with the SG doesn't surprise me - it probably doesn't have the by the book "US flavour" of OBD2. This is just a big guess though.

The 2nd gen car works fine with the SG2. Nothing would have happened had you been allowed to plug it in.

As for the car's FE potential - I expect it'll be somewhere around Metro territory, and in the right hands will turn in nutty numbers. Of course the "manumatic" takes away a number of options from the driver, but it's better than a slushbox, I suppose.
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