Detroit is finally wising up about its cars. It’s taking a smaller-is-better cue from Europe, CBS told viewers of the June 28 “Evening News.”
But reporter John Blackstone’s take on DaimlerChrysler’s (NYSE: DCX) plans to sell the tiny Smart USA ForTwo car in the United States left out one big reason the car may not sell well in America: it’s not a good choice for highway driving, with low horsepower and a top speed under 90 miles per hour.
Anchor Bob Schieffer led off his introduction by predicting that “if gas prices keep climbing, it may start looking very smart indeed” to buy the 8-foot long “micro car.”
“The tiny Smart Car has been on European roads for years,” Blackstone noted, adding it’s “particularly popular in crowded cities.”
The CBS reporter praised the Smart car for high gas mileage and its “protective cage like a race car,” but blamed an SUV-friendly market for keeping the car out of production in U.S. auto plants until now.
“America’s bigger is better attitude will have to do a U-turn for the $15,000 micro car to catch on,” Blackstone lamented.
What he conveniently left out was just why the car may have a hard time rolling off the showroom floor.
“The ForTwo's impressive fuel economy is achieved, for the most part, through sheer tiny-ness,” CNNMoney.com’s Peter Valdes-Dapena reported in a June 29 Web site article. “The current version is powered by a 0.7-liter, three-cylinder engine that produces a mere 60 horsepower and 74 foot-pounds of torque,” he added.
And according to Zap World – a Smart car auto dealership Blackstone found that “Americanizes” European-made models for U.S. customers – the top speed of the Smart cars they sell is a speedy 85 miles per hour.
By contrast, the 2007 Honda Fit, another new car marketed for its small size and fuel economy, packs a heavier punch with a 109-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine. And according to Car and Driver, the Honda Fit Sport edition can top out at 110 miles per hour.