Smart Car, Dumb Red Tape.


I put down my $99 to reserve the right to purchase a Smart Car. We saw these five years ago when we were in Paris. They were traffic stoppers and head turners even among the Parisians. Of course they were new to the market then.

I expressed my interest to buy a Fortwo Passion Cabrio red over black with black interior (like the one in the foreground above.) There is no guarantee that I will get what I want. I can get my $99 back, or take what they have to offer.

It’s a totally useless car for anything but hauling two people. No back seat, storage space for maybe a couple of six packs – or two liter bottle of Perrier.

And let’s talk about the Fortwo Passion Cabrio – heckuva a name, huh?

Europeans have been driving these fancy carts for years, drivers in the U.S. couldn’t get their hands on one. I’m not sure exactly where the red tape started, but the car got totally wrapped up in it.

You could buy one in the U.S., but it had to be specially imported and modified to meet all the safety and emissions standards.

Daimler-Chrysler owns Smart and it only took them five or six years to decide that the U.S. market could handle a cute, little, gas efficient, city scooter.

Then they couldn’t decide who would sell and service it. Turns out Roger Penske and Dr. Z made a deal for the rights.

It won’t be available until the first quarter of 2008 (they say.)

I figured I could tie up $99 until then. Better that than look back and say “I wish.”

Edit: Pat Detmer has some great names for cars with reasons why the name works.

Here’s a sample:

• Madonna — comes with a leather interior.

• Gonorrhea — parts start falling off after six months.

• Media — a very loud car, hard to ignore.

• Vigoda — NYC police car that looks like it’s been in a bad accident.

• Polenta — what is this stuff, anyway?

• Diarrhea — it runs and runs and runs …

06/07/07 UPDATE:  20,000 deposits taken for Smart cars in U.S. 

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Smart Car, Dumb Red Tape. — 8 Comments

  1. The smart car has a lot of great benefits. It is eco-friendly, gets great gas mileage and also can fit into tight parking spaces. In response to your storage comment- I’ve seen a smart car and there is plenty of room for groceries and golf clubs. And by the way, most peole only drive around with one other person or by themself anyway!

  2. Hi Eliza.
    I just like the car because it’s soooo cuuuute.
    If you say it has room for groceries, that’s just a nice little extra.
    Golf clubs? You sure? Maybe if you kinda put them in without a bag?
    Or half standing, half laying down? 🙂
    Ah, who cares!
    Where did you see it?

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  5. I think the “red tape” that you mention is the fact that our country is run by 2 oil men.

    Just my opinion.

    I like your blog.

  6. Hi Smart4U: love your screen name and email addy. A lot of what’s wrong is too many of our politicians are controlled by big oil and big tobacco.

    Glad you like my blog.

    Do you have $99 down on a Smart?

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  8. I just love the car. Aside from the fact that it is eco-friendly, it’s kinda cute to me…like your blog. 🙂