Perhaps when you’re out and about, you might spot what looks like the smallest car you’ve ever seen. It's probably about half the length of a normal car and only has two doors and two seats in the front. These are Smart cars. These itty bitty rides are extremely compact, designed to take up as little space as possible. These cars catch the eye because of their size and yet at the same time, could be easily missed. Their uncommon nature and just the spectacle of a vehicle that seems so impossibly small adds a layer of curiosity to the Smart car. So, to satisfy that curiosity, here are ten things you didn’t know about the Smart car.
10 Born In Germany To A Prestigious Brand
The Smart car was conceived in Böblingen, Germany as an offshoot of Mercedes-Benz. Two other companies were involved in the Smart car’s conception; Volkswagen and Swatch. While Volkswagen was initially part of the project, they eventually left the development of the Smart car and that opening was filled by the Swatch company; the same companies known for unique wristwatches.
An odd choice to be sure but it would prove to be most profitable for Mercedes-Benz as they continued development on what would soon become the Smart car in October of 1998. This brain child of the two companies would be known as the Smart car Fortwo.
9 The Smart Car Logo
Logos are extremely important to companies and branding. Often a company’s logo is how they are identified and you might know a company’s logo but not actually know what the company does. As such, many logos are symbolic of what the company manufactures or what they stand for.
The Smart car logo consists of a silver “C” with a little yellow-orange triangle filling the gap. Next to it, is simply the word “smart.” The silver “C” stands for compact, given that the Smart car is a compact car. The arrow represents forward-thinking. This is also fitting as the parent companies wanted the Smart car to be one of the most advanced cars on the market.
8 What’s In A Name?
Not content with having just their logo being symbolic, the name of the vehicle itself is something of a homage to everyone involved. Nowadays when we hear “Smart” as a prefix, such as a “Smart” phone, for example, we think of an object or device that is technologically advanced and interconnected with the vast digital networks we’ve created.
However, in terms of this vehicle, “Smart” has a different meaning. It's a shortening of the phrase, “Swatch Mercedes ART.” While the name might not be referring to “Smart” in the context we’re accustomed too, that doesn’t mean it's devoid of technology, as we’ll see later in this list.
7 Unbelievably Tiny
If you’ve ever seen a Smart car, it's plain to see that their ridiculously, incredibly, unbelievably tiny. Let's talk numbers though; just how small are they? Well, the original concept aimed for a length of just under nine feet.
However, some of the most recent models surpass this original idea with the cars coming in at eight and a half feet long. If you thought they were small lengthwise, their width is equally as stunning; a mere five and a half feet wide! Despite this, the manufacturer and many drivers say that the interior feels roomy, despite being only as wide as most humans are tall.
6 Unique Customization
Most of the time when you buy a car off the lot, you get to choose between a few standard colors such as white, black, or grey and perhaps a few brighter options such as blue, red, or green.
You have to choose wisely because once you do, you’re pretty much stuck with that color unless you want to pay extra money to get a paint job done later on. However, the Smart car took a different approach. Instead of getting a new paint job, the colored panels on the outside of the car can be removed and replaced with panels in a different color.
5 Tiny Gas Tank But Mighty Mileage
The Smart car Fortwo, obviously, is an itty bitty vehicle. Naturally, when your car is only eight and a half feet long, there is not a whole lot of room for things. Thus, the gas tank on a Fortwo is just over eight and a half gallons. This seems more like a golf cart than a car meant to traverse cities and maybe even go on road trips.
However, the Fortwo was not only designed for compactness, but it was also designed for efficiency as well. Those eight gallons will get you roughly 350 miles before you’ll run out of fuel. That averages out to a whopping 40-miles per gallon!
4 Safety Snafu
With such a compact vehicle, there is not a whole lot of room for error; quite literally. Regular sized cars have several more inches of metal and space to cushion passengers from impact. When there is an impact on a Fortwo, it is smack dab on passengers.
However, Smart was very diligent about crafting and advertising their safety measures. These commercials put them at the center of a small controversy. In the ad, they dropped an SUV on top of their patented frame, which held up. Of course, doubters immediately accused Smart of faking the commercial. They promptly disproved these claims by revealing all of their behind the scenes footage and processes.
3 Clean Electric Power
The Smart car wanted to start off as an electric car brand but back in 1998, the technology was expensive and not as efficient as the manufacturers would have liked. They wanted to create a vehicle that was efficient, green, and ready to usher in the modern age. However, the timing just wasn't right.
So they stuck to creating the most fuel-efficient vehicles they could until the technology could catch up. The moment it did, Smart busted out electric versions of their cars and made sure they were some of the best in town. The latest models get 128 miles on a single charge and the batteries fully charge in a speedy three hours.
2 Built For The Cities Overseas
These tiny cars weren’t exactly built to motor you around your county farm, or even the local golf course. They were made for the crowded, hustle and bustle of European and overseas cities. The continents across the pond, by their very nature are more crowded and packed.
These nations have been around, developing and building for centuries, and some of them are doing so within small borders or on literal islands. The U.S.A. is barely 200-years old and we have a notorious urban sprawl problem. These tiny cars are supposed to compensate for the crowded streets where parking is limited. In fact, the Smart car didn’t come to the U.S. officially until 2008.
1 The Smart Car Is Leaving North America
Last but not least, if this list has gotten you excited about getting a Smart car, you’d better hurry! Smart’s parent company has announced due to lack-luster sales and poor interest, the Smart car will no longer be sold in North America, a.k.a. the U.S.A. and Canada. It’s definitely an interesting decision considering now more than ever people are leaning towards going green and minimizing their lives. Take the tiny house crazy for example; what better match for your little house than a little car? So, if you still want to get your hands on a Smart car without having to pay extra for imports, get one now!