Just yesterday, my son and I spotted a Smart car in a restaurant parking lot. Quite a treat, and a surprise. My son (turning six this summer) is a car fiend, and neither of us had ever seen one before. I've heard a lot about them over the past few years (in stories about the European car market), but was unaware they were selling in the U.S.
Question: will they sell well in the U.S.? Bruce Newman of the San Jose Mercury News gave it a mostly positive review this morning, and it looks like the car company is getting a modest PR bump from a marketing campaign. But I wonder if the "story" of this car is compelling enough to make a dent in the U.S. market. This is neither an electric nor a hybrid -- on the surface, it's simply a small (scary), nicely equipped (OK), low-emission (nice), fuel-efficient car that is not even that fuel efficient (33 city/41 highway, says the company on its corporate Web site).
But here's an even more attractive feature: price. The cheapest model starts at $11,590. Combine that with the fact that you can take this car on the highway, when you need to (unlike NEVs -- neighborhood electric vehicles -- which are only OK for neighborhood and (unaggressive) city driving), and it starts to look even smarter. I'll bet they can move a lot of these cars by focusing on newly-converted exurbans. But the urbans should like it, too (easy parking).