By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

It’s been a little over a year since I went to see the smart fortwo at a Dallas stop on the traveling road show that preceded its sales in the U.S.  I was wowed by the brightly painted, road-hugging micro cars with their cozy seats, wide-view windshields and buggy like demeanor.

More significantly, I remember the wide range of people in line for the test drive: a neurosurgeon who wanted a commuting car; an avid golfer who wanted to make sure his irons fit in the trunk; a mother shopping for her teenager and a mechanic from the Mercedes service department across the parking lot who was looking on behalf of the entire crew with whom he worked.

The Mercedes mechanic thought the smart fortwo, manufactured by Daimler AG, would be affordable (it is) and reliable (it’s got a track record in 37 countries).

Apparently, Americans agree. A new report on the Smart shows that it sold 20,000 units in its first 10 months on the ground in the United States. Those sales were helped, no doubt, by those who signed up on waiting lists in 2007. And the economic derailment this fall probably didn’t hurt the smart fortwo, which retails for $12.000 to $17,000, the way it kick-boxed expensive SUVs and other gas guzzlers.

The strong sales mean that the U.S. is now the third biggest market for the European-style car, behind Germany and Italy.

The smart fortwo gets terrific gas mileage at 41 mpg, of course it is just a two-seater, and it has won EPA designation as the most energy-efficient non-hybrid car. But its reliance solely on gasoline means it carbon emissions can only go so low. Will there be a hybrid version for the U.S. (a micro hybrid drive is available in Europe)? When we asked Smart USA president Dave Schembri last fall, he didn’t rule it out.

The “Smart” folks, fortunately, are aware of their potential for even greater greeness. The news release today announced that a fleet of 100 electric smart fortwos are being tested in London.

Copyright © 2008 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media