How Intelligent Are Our Smart Cars?

The Prodigal Child of the Automotive Industry

DON’T LET ITS PETITE LOOK confuse you with its superb performance delivery on modern road – the micro city coupe “ForTwo” is just above 8 feet long, less than 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall. This Vikings, which weighs 818 kilograms and is 3 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper, has racecar-style roll cages, anti-lock (ABS) brakes, sophisticated electronics, microprocessors, and a superior drivetrain that improve stability, braking, and comfort in general. GPS navigation, reverse sensing, night vision, assisted parking, climate control, smart cards, and keyless voice control are just a few of the luxuries it has. The fully automated, self-driving car is undoubtedly the smartest vehicle.

A smart car is a two-seater mini-compact with cutting-edge electronics and a microprocessor that is ideal for driving in crowded areas and cities. Swatch and Daimler-Benz created the first prototype of the Micro Compact Car (MCC) in 1994, and this “Swatchmobile” was displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997. The collaboration between Swatch and Mercedes, known as Swatch Mercedes ART, is where the word “Smart” actually originates. The updated Smart “ForTwo” was released in 2008 in the USA.

Exactly what makes it so clever?

Nicolas Hayek, the creator of Swatch watches, had the concept for creating a tiny car. He wanted to create a compact vehicle that would be environmentally responsible, economical to operate, and simple to park. His descendants now offer cars with electric motors or hybrid engines that are economical and environmentally conscious through DaimlerAG’s Smart division and other automakers like Renault and General Motors (GM).

Although at first people were hesitant to choose Smart, that attitude is now shifting. A total of 750,000 ForTwos have been sold in Europe and Japan as of this writing. Subcompacts are also becoming a big deal in the trend. People are becoming more concerned with the environment and fuel economy, as evidenced by the waiting lists and advanced reservations for Tesla and Chevrolet Volt. The Smart line has cleverly positioned itself in the upper middle class urban market for high-end design and technology, particularly among the younger generation.

These tiny cars are big on economy despite their diminutive size. ForTwo is only 5 feet wide compared to a 7 feet wide Hummer H1. In practice, this means that a Smart Car can back up right to the curb as opposed to parallel parking alongside other vehicles. That allows two or three Smart Cars to fit in a single curbside parking space. In fact, Swatch originally intended to produce such a vehicle for the American and European markets, where the cost of gas and parking is high. The vehicles are incredibly agile and quick off the line; they can even outaccelerate many supercars in city traffic. In comparison to a Honda Civic’s turning radius of 35.7 feet, the ForTwo’s incredibly short length allows it to turn in an astounding 22.8-foot radius.

Smart has also successfully managed the safety issue thanks to its Tridion Safety Cell in the front. The crumple zones of a colliding vehicle are activated by this rigid structure, enclosing the occupants in safety. In the Euro NCAP Adult Occupant Protection, the ForTwo of the second generation received 4 out of 5 stars.

One of the most fuel-effective four-wheeled cars on the market is the ForTwo, which has a standard gasoline engine. However, it has a stylish design and is undoubtedly simpler to park than a traditional four-wheeler. It cannot, of course, compete with a hybrid in terms of mpg ratings. It comes with a wide range of color options for its unibody and Tridion Safety Cell and can practically always snag the last parking spot. Smart is the four-wheeled vehicle with the best environmental outlook. It does not pollute the environment because it is powered by electricity.

Smarts are not, and never have been, very smart when it comes to price. A ForTwo automatic drive costs $20,640 at base price in the United States. and $19,650 in the European market, not to mention the ForTwo Cabrio’s (smart ED) $28,750 price. For several thousand dollars less than the price of a ForTwo, buyers who prioritize fuel efficiency also prioritize financial efficiency can find a small conventional car with respectable gas mileage.

Because the electrically assisted power steering provides so little haptic feedback from the road surface, the ForTwo jumps excessively when there are bumps in the road. In the hands of a pro, the disc and drum brakes also seem artificial.

In terms of speed and mileage, the Smarts are also sluggish. The most recent ForTwos Cabrio is among the fastest on the market, but it can reach 0-60 mph in 10.2 seconds as opposed to the 5-7 seconds needed by the majority of conventional sedans. Only 81 mph is the vehicle’s top speed limit because driving too fast significantly reduces fuel economy and electric range. When it takes 3 hours to charge through a 240-volt outlet or 16.5 hours to charge through a 120-volt household plug, the anticipated 70–80 mile single range is also impractical.

Even Smarter

At the British Motor Show in July 2006, DaimlerChrysler made its all-electric ForTwo EV debut. It now offers the ForTwo Electric Drive, an oddball hatchback with a $24,550 price tag and an 80-hp electric motor mounted in the middle that can travel 70 miles on a single charge. The most recent ForTwo Cabriolet is an iconic Electric Drive that has been converted into a convertible. Like its predecessor, the Cabriolet has an electric drivetrain and a surprisingly large cargo area.

Not all products in the Smart line are ForTwo. Prior to its discontinuation in 2015, Toyota’s Scion iQ was a respectable rival that held the majority of the Smart car records. With the Mitsubishi I-MiEV and Fiat 500e, ForTwo now has fierce competition. Even though the Honda Fit and Chevrolet Volt aren’t the smallest cars on the market, they still compete well in the Smart segment in terms of fuel efficiency, automotive intelligence, and hybrid drivetrains. Another competitor that provides slick but tough performance is the Mini Cooper. Every single one of these vehicles is designed to maximize passenger volume while reducing overall length. ForTwo’s cousins, the Smart Roadster and Forfour, are also available from Mercedes’ Smart line. The latter is currently being rebuilt to provide a miniature 4 x 4 SUV for the domestic market in the USA and Brazil. Hyundai is currently developing fully autonomous vehicles for the coming generation, and Samsung is creating in-vehicle entertainment systems. Both businesses are competing to launch highly intelligent vehicles.

It is obvious that this Smart is a fantastic city car, but it is less certain whether it will completely replace the gasoline-powered conventional cars. We won’t know the answer until later in time. It is now more important than ever for automakers to offer and consumers to adopt more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly Smart cars for daily commuting, though, as fuel prices are at historic highs and environmental restoration is a hot button issue.

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