Smart cars

There must be something going around because it seems as though a lot of tuners have been showing an increased interest in small cars lately. And while the Fiat 500 is the most loved model, it seems that the Smart Fortwo has also started to catch tuners attentions. Romeo Ferraris, whom you might remember from their tuning package for the Corvette Z06 , is offering a kit for the Fortwo that improves both the car’s appearance and performance.

Thanks to the addition of a new sport air filter and a re-mapped ECU, the three-cylinder 1-liter engine’s output has been increased by 23 hp and 32 Nm of torque for a total of 98 hp, while the 800 cc engine version gets an additional 21 hp and 20 Nm of torque

Next to the engine upgrades, the package also includes new 17 inch, black alloy wheels, different carbon inserts, leather and Alcantara for the interior, an updated dashboard, seats, and an instrument panel.

We can’t say this package thrills us or even excites us in any way, but it’s not a bad gig for a vehicle that was lacking to begin with.

Usually when it comes about tuning a model, in general you expect to see significant power upgrades and exterior and interior updates. But Lorinser will bring at the upcoming Essen Motor Show an Easybrid package based on the Smart Fortwo that adds a retrofit electric hub motor with 30 kW (41 HP) additional effective output.

Easybrid® supports the existing fuel- or diesel engines of the individual cars and renders an additional power of approximately 30 kW (about 41hp) for improved acceleration- and final speed outputs. At the same time, the consumption- and CO2-levels drop. As electric engines are very powerful and their maximum torque is reached after only one revolution, it is also possible to move these cars solely on an electric basis.

With this retrofit solution, Lorinser does not only cover all advantages of modern hybrid acceleration, but also allows the driver to choose his operational mode. Apart from the combination of both engines, he can also opt for either the sole electronic or sole combustion engine. The driver can therefore decide if he wishes to use fuel or electricity or a combination of both.

Press release after the jump.

The LA Design Challenge is one of the unquestioned highlights of the LA Auto Show with different automakers showing off their newly-designed concepts that are made based on a “theme” set by the organizers.

This year, the theme was “addressing society’s shift toward minimizing consumption of the earth’s resources by envisioning an efficient, light-weight, four passenger vehicle with a weight limit of 1,000 lbs that is both comfortable and safe, while delivering satisfactory driving performance without sacrificing the styling consumers demand."

Turns out, when it came time to decide on a winner, the judges had such a hard time picking between the Cadillac Aera Concept and the Smart 454 WWT Concept that they just decided to award the top prize to the two cars.

According to the judges, picking a winner was about as hard as it has been in recent years considering the quality of work that was entered. "Deciding this year’s Design Challenge winner was a tremendously difficult decision as the quality of entries has increased throughout the years," the Design Los Angeles judges said. "This year’s winners – the Cadillac Aera and the smart 454 WWT – offer two very different visions of the 1,000 lb. Car, yet are equally as amazing. They are both very expressive of their brand; GM is art and science and smart is playful and fun."

Two winners, huh? Can’t say we saw that coming. While we did think that the Aera was a front-runner, we didn’t expect the smart 454 WWT to actually go home with equal-billing in the top step of the podium.

Press Release after the jump

For what it’s worth, the Smart 454 by Weight Watch Technologies is probably the cutest yet most perplexing entry to the 2010 LA Design Challenge. The billing alone pretty much describes what to expect from the concept vehicle: “West coast fun and innovation meets German technology, design and grannies’ hand knit socks.”

Never though we’d live to see the phrases “West coast fun” and “grannies’ hand knit socks” in the same sentence. In any case, the Smart 454 by Weight Watch Technologies is smart’s official entry to the 2010 LA Design Challenge.

Keeping line with this year’s theme of envisioning an efficient, lightweight 2+2 car that takes into account the growing shift in building vehicles while minimizing consumption of the earth’s resources, the smart 454 uses a Tridion-frame chassis that’s apparently knitted out of carbon fiber by what the company is calling “Smart Granny Robots”. Go figure. Each individual part of the car uses a different material to give each piece a unique set of properties like weight and function. For the windows, fenders, and bumpers, Smart opted to use recyclable plastics while touching them up with ingrained colors. Meanwhile, the 454’s roof uses a thin, but extremely durable textile that boasts of its own different prints and weavings. Probably the work of the granny robots, we think.

The wheels of the 454 WWT are likewise made from carbon fiber with an integrated suspension and with the help of SGR technology, the wheels come equipped with some snazzy and lightweight rims.

Then there’s the matter of assembling and dissembling the car without breaking any sweat. Thanks to a modular “clip-on” construction principal, materials like the doors, the roof, the engine, and even the drive train, become extremely easy to remove or exchange, making the 454 WWT a car that can be customized for any occasion, including granny’s knitting session.

Press Release after the jump

Smart has unveiled at the Paris Auto Show a special car2go edition, featuring brand new telematics hardware, a new control unit with touchscreen, and a solar roof developed especially for the smart.

The solar roof delivers a total power of 100 Watt that is used to supply power to the telematics, and also to continually charge the car’s battery. This allows the alternator to be decoupled whilst driving and fuel consumption to be reduced by up to 10%.

"The car2go edition is fitted with a completely new hardware generation that makes the fully-automated rental process even more convenient and secure. The telematics, which are the most efficient car sharing telematics in the world, have been optimized for the requirements of car2go, and were developed in cooperation with the Ulm-based Daimler TSS GmbH among other companies. The new-generation technology is completely integrated into the vehicle both visually and technically, At its heart is a new control unit with a large touch-sensitive screen. The car key, which was previously kept in the glove compartment, is now securely stowed here. There are also convenient slots for up to four chip cards (e.g. for refuelling or for entry to car parks)."

Press release after the jump.

The Paris Motor Show is only a few days away and we’re already beginning to see a lot of special edition vehicles that are going to be introduced at the auto event.

Not to be outdone by its competitors, Smart is bringing their very own special edition ForTwo , one that, apparently, is hemmed in reusable cardboard. Say what?!

No, this isn’t some half-baked joke that we just thought of this morning; it’s actually the real deal. The cardboard ForTwo is the brainchild of artist Sarah Illenberger, Smart, and CD Cartondruck AG, all of whom brainstormed about the idea of putting reusable cardboard on the car’s exterior and interior. We’re not entirely sure how this works given that cardboard, no matter how “high-quality” it seems to be, don’t exactly inspire confidence when you’re out on the road. Nonetheless, we give these guys some credit for their creativity, imagination, and, well, that’s pretty much it.

If you’re having a difficult time wrapping your head around the justification of the car, then you’re not alone. At the very least, we’ll probably get some explanation from these guys at the Paris Motor Show where the car is expected to be on display in all its cardboard glory.

Press Release after the jump.

Source: Smart

Smart will unveil the new purely electrically driven escooter at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. This vehicle is a further solution for intelligent urban mobility. The Escooter will be painted in white with green accents like its four-wheeled big brother, and is introducing a fresh and surprising element into urban traffic.

The Escooter is driven by a disc-shaped wheel hub motor in the rear wheel, which offers a powerful 4 kW and transmits its power directly to the rear wheel. The smart escooter has a top speed of 45 km/h and offers an autonomy of up to 100 kilometers. The escooter can be charged at any standard household power socket, within three to five hours.

“With the escooter, we consistently continue our “vision smart”: even more driving fun in the city, even more adaptability to the respective living environment, even more flexibility - not least because it offers the possibility to be integrated in our car2go concept”, says Annette Winkler.

Press release after the jump.

Posted on by Bryan 15

Ranking the best cars is fun, but ranking the worst is like frolicking on a perfect beach, it just never gets old. Taking into consideration that the year is almost complete, we wanted to rank the worst vehicles of the decade and seeing as how there were so many, ten just wasn’t enough.

Some weren’t very hard to think of, stuff like the Chevrolet Aveo and the Smart ForTwo were obviously going to be on the list, but there were a few that will shock you. If one sentence can sum up our thought process during this evaluation it would be this, ’high sales don’t mean anything’.

Look at the Chevrolet Impala and the Jeep Wrangler . Both sell fairly well, but both are awful. The Impala is fat and drives like a boat and the Wrangler is an off-road machine that most won’t take in their yard, leaving it hard and uncompromising on the road. Despite these two perfect examples of automotive incompetence, both didn’t make the list.

Find out what did by hitting the jump.

Smart has reached 10 years of sales in the UK, and to commemorate this important milestone, the Daimler-owned brand is releasing an exclusive edition of its ForTwo model.

Dubbed as the “gb-10” edition, this model will only have 100 units produced in a number of different variants, including gasoline engine coupes (50 units), gasoline cabriolets (10 units), diesel coupes (30 units), and diesel cabriolets (10 units).

Each model, regardless of fuel and style versions, will come with a silver metallic paint finish with a red design prominently featured on the vehicle’s tridion safety cell. In addition to that, all 100 cars will also come with LED daytime running lights, a third brake light courtesy of Brabus, and 15-inch alloy wheels.

As far as the interior of this special-edition ForTwo is concerned, each of the 100 units will come with Rosso red heated leather seats that have the name “gb-10” embroidered on the headrests. The red leather seats are then complemented by a black alcantara-finished dashboard with the instrument surrounds accented a silver finish.

Despite being classified as a special edition, the “gb-10” edition Smart ForTwo comes at a base price of just £10,695 (around $16,671).

Posted on by Bryan 10

The public seems to do many things that they regret, and buying a Smart car appears to be one of them. At just 61 inches high and 106 inches long, the Smart would seem to be the perfect city car, but many have lost interest.

The little automaker’s sales aren’t doing so hot at the moment. Many people who thought the Smart was a neat idea and a great city car have realized that it actually wouldn’t work for them.

In 2009, the company sold 14,600 vehicles, down from 24,000 in 2008. So far this year, sales are really bad, as they are off another 60 percent.

In an attempt to turn things around, Smart is trying to rejuvenate the brand. The company has hired Jill Lajdziak, the former general manager of Saturn, to boost marketing.

Marketing might not be the only issue, as owners of the car wouldn’t want one again. According to CNW Marketing Research, 8.1 percent of Smart owners in New York wouldn’t buy another Smart. In San Francisco, only 19.8 percent of owners would buy the car again.

The Smart car does have some serious issues, like the terrible automatic transmission. The gearbox is rough, but it does deliver decent mileage.

So, Smart is going to have a lot of work on its hands in order to revive the brand’s image. Look for more advertisements and product placement for the company.

Source: MSNBC, CNW

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