Friday, September 28, 2007

the market is working on it... (revisited)

from Jere Downs in the Courier-Journal this morning..., another story about how producers are working diligently to develop the next best thing(s)-- to deal with higher energy prices.

The Smart fortwo was available for test drives yesterday.

From rural Indiana, Prospect, Newburg, St. Matthews and the Highlands they stood in line, ages 29 to 82. Some had seen the teeny, gas-sipping Mercedes-built Smart fortwo in Europe. Many plunked down $99 to reserve one of the two-seat, three-cylinder vehicles yesterday.

"We have orders from 20 different states," Sam Swope, 81, said as he watched the debut of the 8-foot-long minicars at his auto sales complex on Hurstbourne Parkway. "I don't know how we are going to fill them all."

The public can test-drive a Smart fortwo from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today and from noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hard Rock Cafe at Fourth Street Live.

The event yesterday was for customers who had reserved a fortwo online, or pulled into the dealership after seeing the strikingly small vehicles -- half the length of a typical sedan -- zipping along Hurstbourne at Interstate 64. In January, Swope will open a Smart dealership on nearby Blankenbaker Parkway.

Lyn Murphy-Carter drove 45 minutes from Henryville, Ind., to look. The insurance agent test-drove a blue Passion Cabrio model (starting at under $17,000).

"It rides like a small car. You feel the bumps," said Murphy-Carter, 45. "But it is a common-sense vehicle. It makes sense to have something economical that is going to be friendly to the environment."

Joel Eckert, 29, said he reserved a fortwo after a long and fruitless search for an electric car that served his needs. After comparing other small gasoline-powered cars on the market, the New Jersey native settled on the fortwo for his eight-mile commute.

"If you deck out a Chevy Aveo and deck out one of these," the computer animation programmer said, "you get the same price but there is no comparison on quality."

The cars have not been rated for fuel efficiency by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Estimates range from 40 to 70 miles per gallon.

Bob Buhts, 67, a retired Army officer, said he would buy the no-frills Pure model, which starts under $12,000, to keep in his Prospect driveway...

And it's not just a tin can! It's quite a bit safer than a bicycle built fortwo...

The Smart Web site touts the safety of the fortwo, predicting its cage construction will earn a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Yesterday's event included a flat-screen television showing crash videos of the fortwo sustaining front, side and rear impacts from a variety of larger vehicles...

And trunk room too?

Moore peered into the trunk, which at up to 12 cubic feet is spacious enough to hold a set of golf clubs or bags of groceries...

After driving the fortwo, Murphy-Carter said her family was going to purchase two and ditch the minivan and the Contour.

"I like Ford. It keeps our local people working," Murphy-Carter said. "But they are not cutting it with the cars they are making. The minute they do, I'll go right back to them."


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