07 June 2008

People Like Green Cars Because They Make a Statement

The smart ForTwo and the Prius

Both the Daimler AG smart ForTwo and the Toyota Prius are selling like hotcakes. The ForTwo has been on sale in the U.S. for about five months, has sold about 9,000 units, and has a one-year waiting list. People really like a car that says "I'm green" loud and clear.

The ForTwo (picture from U.S. EPA) gets around 38 miles per gallon, and only carries two people. The Prius carries four, gets around 46 mpg, and costs about $10,000 more. The ForTwo gets the best fuel efficiency of any non-hybrid sold in the U.S. But the Toyota Corolla gets almost as good mileage (about 38 mpg actual experience), carries four, and only costs $4,000 or $5,000 more than the ForTwo. And you can actually get one. But it just looks like any other car.

A People's Car?

People who want to be different will love the ForTwo. Reviews are generally good, though some reviewers have reservations (Consumer Reports blog (not review); New York Times; Wired.) But all agree the car is cute. Maybe it will catch on like the Volkswagen Beetle did. Green, cute, a statement. (And the ForTwo, while about the same width as the VW Bug, is more than four feet shorter. It's more than three feet shorter than the BMW MINI.) This is a small car like the Beetle was a small car, only more so.

Daimler is working on a hybrid electric version of the ForTwo. And in London they have been testing all-electric ones.

Smart USA site

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