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| Live Fast, Drive Hard And Squeeze In .
|Posted by smart142 - Feb 10 2013 - 10:37 AM - 8 comments
The Wall Street Journal
Feb 8th, 2013
By DAN NEIL
Bruce Weiner made a fortune in the candy business, and now he's selling off his automotive Skittles.
Mr. Weiner's taste-the-rainbow collection of 200 microcars goes up for auction Friday and next Saturday in Madison, Ga., in a 25,000-square-foot museum devoted to the cars' Lilliputian strangeness and ingenuity.
The Atlanta-based entrepreneur has collected antique firearms, watches, and what's likely the world's most authoritative survey of chewing gum (he once owned Fleer Confections, the inventors of Dubble Bubble gum). He's also had his fair share of Ferraris. But nothing has held his interest like microcars.
"Acquiring seven-figure collector cars is purely a function of money," said Mr. Weiner. "Collecting microcars is about the hunt, finding the best of what's out there and chasing it down." RM Auctions hopes to raise $6.1 million to $8.1 million in total.
The radical minimalism of these machines, built mostly in Europe in the 1950s and early '60s, reflected the region's postwar scarcity. (One resourceful builder beat old cooking pots into fender panels.) They typically measure 10 feet long or less, with less than 700-cc engine displacement and one or two seats—arranged side by side or in tandem, scooter style. The cars' tenure didn't last long: Europe's economic miracle was under way and more comfortable cars grew more affordable. By the time of the zanily bubblelicious 1966 Peel Trident, it was over.
In their time, microcars were utterly disposable. The collection's specimens —most with a shiny candy coating courtesy of the museum's restoration shop—owe something of their survival just to being adorable. "Due to their small size, toylike appearance and their abundance of character, microcars tended not to be scrapped so much as put away," writes Peter Svilans, the museum's former curator, in the catalog essay. Among the oldest cars is the golf-cart-like 1949 Voisin Biscooter prototype, with a skin of gleaming riveted aircraft aluminum, a cuirass worthy of a Fritz Lang ingénue.
The most familiar of these machines are the Messerschmitt KR 200 (Kabinenroller) and the BMW Isetta, both products of former aviation firms in Germany forbidden from building aircraft. Plane builders from both sides of the war—like Ernst Heinkel, Enrico Piaggio and Gabriel Voisin—were "presented with an entirely new set of sobering, restrictive, ground-based parameters" for their postwar duties, writes Mr. Svilans.
Their aircraft experience led to the use of lightweight tubular structures called space frames and large, blisterlike canopies made of Plexiglas (thus the category of "bubble cars"). Likewise, their commitment to streamlining created cars that even now seem startlingly futuristic. The 1956 Paul Vallée Chantecler looks like a one-man submersible to explore off-world oceans.
The Isetta, designed by Italy's Iso Rivolta company in the early 1950s, became the most successful single-cylinder car in history. Built by licensees in several countries (most notably, by BMW in Munich) the instantly recognizable Isetta has a marvelously effective design in which the entire front panel of the car—including steering wheel, console and windshield—swings on a set of side-mounted hinges. It's like opening a refrigerator door and climbing in. Fans of the movie "Cars" will remember that the little Italian tire-changer, Luigi, is an Isetta, and Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn squeeze into one in the 1957 musical "Funny Face."
There were dozens of others: Goggomobile, Fulda and Bond. Many were brilliant. The Zundapp Janus was a double-ended microcar in which passengers, like the Roman God, faced both ways. The seats could fold flat into a bed—this at a time when Europeans loved cheap caravanning.
Not all of Mr. Weiner's cars are so nobly framed, of course. Some are gawky, silly, and look somehow incomplete without clowns tumbling out of them. Others represent genuinely bad engineering ideas. Parked in direct sunlight, the poorly ventilated bubble-top Peel Trident could probably cook a chicken in about an hour. And yet, these cars paint a remarkable picture of a time when Europe was desperately lacking in everything but talent.
"It tells me that it doesn't matter how devastated your society is," said Mr. Weiner. "You can always get back on your feet."
Read 1,223 times - last comment by smart142
| Adac Crash Test - Fiat 500, Fortwo, Twingo, Picanto
|Posted by Mike T - Sep 19 2012 - 03:50 PM - 0 comments
ADAC has just completed a test of four small cars to see whether they can provide significant protection in collisions with larger vehicles. http://www.adac.de/infotestrat/adac-im-ein...urcePageId=6729
Only the smart was judged to achieve an adequate level of protection to its occupants.Daimler Media Services Press Release:
Stuttgart – When a small car collides with a larger one, the smaller vehicle draws the short straw. This is confirmed by the latest ADAC crash test. With one exception: in this David-and-Goliath clash the smart fortwo was the only small car able to prevent life-threatening injuries to the driver from severe trauma to the chest.
The standard EuroNCAP crash test simulates a frontal collision with a vehicle of the same weight. In contrast, for the first time the ADAC had four smaller models crash into a barrier vehicle equivalent to a lower-end mid-sized car. Further, in this first compatibility crash test the unequally matched parties to the accident collided with an offset of 50 percent. This is because, according to the ADAC, in an accident it is usually vehicles of different weights that collide, usually with a degree of lateral offset.
The horrifying outcome of the crash test is that life-threatening injuries in the chest region are commonplace in smaller vehicles. Only the smart fortwo protected its driver from such injuries – despite being the smallest and lightest vehicle in the test.
According to the ADAC, the reasons for the alarming test results lie partly
in the fact that the short crumple zone of smaller vehicles cannot absorb sufficient energy and the forces unleashed during an accident are often not conducted to the corresponding energy-absorbing components.
The smart fortwo owes its good crash test result to an innovative construction based on examinations of actual accident scenarios conducted by Mercedes-Benz Cars as opposed to focusing solely on the requirements of EU and American laws. Collisions with other vehicles in different constellations were therefore also taken into account during the development phase of the
smart fortwo. Because the constructional crash-safety provisions and restraint systems of all vehicles of Mercedes-Benz Cars satisfy such strict, internal standards that in part go way beyond the statutory requirements, they have also proved themselves in everyday practice. The same goes for the smart fortwo.
The safety concept of the smart fortwo is as follows:
The tridion safety cell protects its occupants like the hard shell around a nut. Its structure is additionally reinforced with high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel at strategically important points (more than 50 percent).
The tridion safety cell’s longitudinal and transverse members activate the crumple zone of the other vehicle involved in the accident and distribute the impact energy evenly over the car’s body.
And in case of a collision, the wheels also take on the function of crumple zones. When this happens, the front wheels are supported by the side members.
The rear-mounted engine enables a larger crumple zone at the front and acts as a shock-absorbing unit that absorbs the impact energy in a rebound.
Thanks to the sandwich-type construction of the tridion safety cell, the passengers are usually somewhat above the direct danger zone in the event of a side impact. Further, in the case of a side impact, the other vehicle almost always hits an axle that can absorb impact energy due to the relatively short wheelbase.
All interior trims have been optimised to prevent injuries to occupants. And the soft foam-backed lower instrument panel (knee pad) offers protection for the passengers' knees and lower legs.
The door structure is reinforced by high-strength sheet metal at
Other standard safety features in the smart fortwo are ESP with ABS and brake assist (BAS), wide track width, seat belts with belt tensioner and belt-force limiter, safety seats with integral seat belts, airbags.
However, it is not only the smart fortwo driver who benefits: due to its low weight it has little impact on the other vehicle involved in the accident and causes a minimum of damage.
The result of the latest ADAC crash test was summed up by the popular German newspaper “Bild”: “Only the smart is truly smart.”
More and more buyers agree with this opinion. More than 1.4 million smart fortwos have been delivered to customers since the first model was launched in 1998. 101,996 smart fortwos were handed over to customers worldwide in 2011 – 4.6 percent more than in the previous year. What they like about this trendsetter of individual urban mobility is above all its high fun factor, its high ecological standards and the compact dimensions of the two-seater that is peerless in terms of how little road and parking space it takes up. However, its sophisticated safety strategy is also persuasive, as the latest ADAC crash test underlines.
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| Smart Forstars Concept
|Posted by quirky1 - Sep 14 2012 - 01:00 AM - 8 comments
|Smart Forstars Concept To Debut at 2012 Paris Auto ShowBy Michael Taylor, Correspondent | Published Sep 14, 2012
Just the Facts:
- Smart will unveil its new Forstars concept this month at the Paris auto show.
- The Forstars hints at the size and shape of the future Fortwo.
- The Forstars is wider and longer than the current production Smart.
— Making its debut at this month's 2012 Paris Auto Show, the new Smart Forstars concept is built on a far bigger architecture than the current Smart Fortwo and boasts a silhouette that hints at the shape of Fortwo's successor, due in a year.
It's an astonishing 33.7 inches — more than 30 percent — longer than the little Fortwo at 139.8 inches long, and it's 5.9 inches wider as well.
Its wheelbase has been pushed out by more than 24 percent — a whopping 23.7 inches longer — at 97.2 inches. That leaves the Fortwo, which can famously be parked across a modern city car parking space, just 9 inches shorter in its wheelbase than the all-new A-Class Mercedes-Benz five-door hatch.
It's also wider, with its front track stretched 7.6 inches to 58.1 inches and its rear track bumped out 3.5 inches to the same width.
In fact, the only dimension that shrinks on the Smart Forstars is its height, which shrinks down 1.4 inches to 59.3 inches.
Beneath it all, the Forstars is powered by the same all-electric drivetrain lifted from the current Brabus Smart Electric, which means a 60kW magneto-electric motor. It's enough to power the Forstars to 81 mph thanks to 100 pound-feet of instant torque and a 17.6kW/hour battery.
Yet Smart isn't relying on solid engineering advancements to garner public attention. Instead, it's given the Forstars a built-in video projector so it can be parked in front of any clean wall to make an instant drive-in movie theater.
Slung beneath a faux hood intake, the Forstars movie projector can be operated by either a smartphone or via Bluetooth.
Smart has christened it the Forstars because of its convex curved glass roof that exposes the night sky, but there are other reasons why parent company Daimler christens it its first Sports Utility Coupe (SUC).
Firstly, the Forstars shares its origins with the For-us concept car Smart showed at January's Detroit Auto Show, so it also shares its glass tailgate.
The electrically operated tailgate slides down to create a 35.4-inch-long tailgate area — almost long enough to make yourself comfortable in a traditional drive-in theater.
The seats are hammock-style units, developed at Mercedes-Benz's Lake Como studio in Italy, and can be switched in and out with different colors as the owner's mood changes.
The interior's radical thinking doesn't stop there, with the rearview mirror replaced entirely by a cradle for a smartphone, which displays footage from a rearview camera.
Sitting on an enormous set of 245/35 ZR21 Michelin tires, the two-seater keeps delivering kookiness outside as well as in.
The right side taillight flips open to give access to the plug-in charging socket while, astonishingly, Smart created space for a large drink bottle holder in the left side taillight.Edmunds says:
The Forstars concept foretells of a slightly bigger production Smart to replace the current Fortwo.
Read 3,397 times - last comment by sbungay
| Smart Electric Goes Cross-canada
|Posted by smart142 - Aug 7 2012 - 04:13 AM - 7 comments
August 6, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
Recently smart Canada commenced the smart city project tour that will visit 9 cities across Canada to showcase the revolutionary smart fortwo electric drive and the fuel efficient and newly face-lifted 2013 smart fortwo.
The pan-Canadian trek will also continue to raise awareness regarding the smart city project, which was launched at the end of May to inspire urban residents to share ideas that will improve urban environments and make their respective communities more functional and beautiful for all inhabitants.
The tour began in Victoria last week; after visiting Vancouver this weekend, it will continue across Canada until it ultimately concludes in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2012.
This year, the tour is also introducing a unique and particularly convenient component that allows participants to sign up for home or workplace test drives that will bring the smart fortwo directly to them.
More information regarding the tour and specific dates can be found at: www.thesmart.ca
Calgary: Aug 10th and 11th.
Ottawa: Aug 18th and 19th.
Sherbrooke: Aug 25th and 26th.
Montreal: Sept 8th and 9th.
Quebec City: Sept 15th 16th.
Halifax: Sept 22nd and 23rd.
Toronto: Sept 29th and 30th.
In conjunction with the tour, smart Canada is also offering a special promotion for test pilots. Anyone who test drives and purchases a smart fortwo in conjunction with the tour will receive a $500 gas card with their new car, which will cover more than four months of fuel based on Transport Canada's estimated annual fuel costs.
In addition to providing information and the opportunity to experience the nimble handling, advanced safety systems and myriad of comfort and convenience features offered in the smart fortwo, the smart city project tour will also do its part to help improve each community it visits by planting one tree for every customer test drive.
Participants are encouraged to submit their own ideas directly on site detailing how they would improve their own community. All contributions are welcomed, and every idea will offer the chance to receive $50,000 to help turn their transformative plan into a reality and also win a new smart ebike.
“The smart fortwo has been a catalyst for change since the very beginning, challenging the status quo and revolutionizing urban mobility with an extremely safe and versatile vehicle designed to easily navigate congested downtown streets,” said Tim A. Reuss, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada. “The launch of the highly anticipated smart fortwo electric drive will extend smart's pioneering position as it will be the lowest priced zero-local emission electric vehicle in Canada. We are pleased to offer enthusiasts and potential customers alike the opportunity to test drive this game-changing vehicle, and look forward to visiting many different communities and continuing a dialogue that examines how we can all work together to improve our urban environments.”
Read 3,962 times - last comment by bilgladstone
| Production Start For Smart Electric Drive
|Posted by smart142 - Jun 16 2012 - 05:13 AM - 12 comments
automotive IT International
June 14, 2012
The first electrically propelled smart cars rolled off the production line in Hambach, France, this month, marking an important step in Daimler’s moves to build more models with non-traditional engines.
“The new smart electric drive and the expansion of the Hambach plant are two important milestones for the future of smart,” said Annette Winkler, head of the of the brand.
Daimler has invested more than 200 million euros in the Hambach plant, where all smart models are built. The largest individual expense was for a new 50 million euro paint shop.
Winkler said in a press release that the electric smart will strengthen the Daimler group’s product offering in a market that is expected to see a rise in demand for small city cars.
“With the new smart electric drive we are further expanding our leading position in urban mobility,” she said.
The basic smart electric drive goes on sale in Germany for 18,910 euros plus a monthly battery rental charge of 65 euros. Including the battery, electric smarts cost 23,680 euros.
The small car has a range of about 145 km in city traffic and accelerates from 0 to 60 km/hour in 4.8 seconds. It has a maximum speed of 125 km/h.
Read 5,895 times - last comment by Francesco