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Because Creativity is Overrated
What’s the most important step a manufacturer undertakes when creating a new car? Building a great chassis? Getting the interior ergonomics right? Providing the perfect drivetrain to complement the new product? Nope. All wrong. The really, really important factor for any new car is getting the name right.
All joking aside, a vehicle’s name is very important. Slap a clever name on a car and it can help boost sales. Conversely, choose a bad name for a vehicle, like Probe or Dictator, and it can hurt sales. Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money analyzing potential model names.
Well, that’s usually what happens, but sometimes, the creativity well runs dry. Every now and then a new vehicle receives a name that leaves us all wondering: “Really? That’s all they could think of?” Not to get confused with naming conventions that are just lazy, like Mazda’s numbered sequence or Mercedes-Benz’s lettered sequence. No, we are referring to model names that give the perception maybe the marketing team forgot to show up one day and the engineers were left in charge of naming the new ride. “We are pleased to announce the latest from Hyonbaru Motors, ‘The Car!” Don’t laugh, some the following models are even worse.
Gas sippers were popular this week – even with those hunting for all-wheel drive options.
The Smart fortwo can fit in some pretty small places, but can it fit in a 140-character Twitter post? It certainly can, as seen on the Smart Argentina twitter page.
An advertisement made up of 455 individual tweets shows the Smart strolling downtown in a neat looking virtual flip book. Apart from the ASCII art, the ad looks like something you’d see on TV, complete with a neat 360-degree showcase of the fortwo.
The twitter account states (in Spanish) “It fits in any space. Why not in 140 characters? Smart Fortwo…a big idea for the city.”
We wonder if other companies will pick up on this innovative style of advertising.
Check it out in the video below.
Discuss this story with other Smart fans at Smart Car of America.
Earlier today, we reported that Brabus introduced an all new Bullitt C-Class coupe. Packing 800-hp from a heavily retuned V12, the Brabus Bullitt eclipses the output of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series by nearly 300-hp.
Having made its name with “big-power” creations, Brabus is known to go “tiny-tunes” with the Smart Fortwo as well. Not only has Brabus released details of an electric Brabus Fortwo EV for the Geneva Show, but the German tuner has also announced another project based on the Fortwo Cabrio, known as the Ultimate 120. The Ultimate 120 is pretty straightforward, offering only 120 units, just as its name suggest. What’s more, its name is also derived from the round output of its 3-cylinder turbo engine, 120 PS (118 hp) at 6,000 rpm and 118 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,250 to 3,750 rpm.
Other hardware upgrades include a stainless-steel sport exhaust, height-adjustable coil over suspension, a high-performance brake system with cross-drilled discs and four-piston calipers at the front, new 18-inch wheels fitted with high performance tires.
In terms of its exterior, the Ultimate 120 receives a wide-body kit that includes a front spoiler, side sills, a rear apron, and wider fenders.
Brabus chose black mastik leather with red contrast stitching for its interior. In addition, the Ultimate 120 also gets Recaro Sportster seats, a Brabus steering wheel, body colored agent trims, stainless steel pedals and aluminum shifter and hand-brake lever.
With so much to offer, the limited production Ultimate 120 isn’t cheap. Prices are set at a steep 45,900 euros, or $61,600 USD. At that pricetag, even the Aston Martin Cygnet starts to look like a bargain.
GALLERY: Brabus Ultimate 120
Smart will debut a Brabus Fortwo EV and electric bike at the Geneva Motor Show, which is just around the corner now. The special edition Fortwo EV from Brabus will sport 17-inch wheels, Brabus styling accessories, and an “electric green” interior.
Smart also announced that they will have the Brabus variant of their electric Fortwo in 12 countries by the end of the year, packing around 80-hp. Unfortunately the German automaker still hasn’t announced its range on a single charge.
The e-bike will pack an electric motor with 500 watts of power and can hit a top speed of 25-mph and will also be available at Smart dealerships by the end of the year. You can pick up a Smart e-bike for around $3,700, but no pricing has been announced yet for the Brabus Fortwo EV; we can probably expect it when the car gets closer to the dealership lots.
GALLERY: Brabus Smart Fortwo EV and e-Bike
The facelifted Smart ForTwo has some minor exterior changes with a new front bumper that comes equipped with a new mesh grille and air intakes and a redesigned front-upper grille while the rear bumper also gets some tweaks. Engine choices, at least out in Europe, will still be the 1.0L three-cylinder powerplant either naturally aspirated, turbocharged or diesel. The naturally aspirated engine has 61-hp while the turbocharged powerplant pushes out 102-hp. The diesel is equipped with 54-hp.
After its scheduled debut in March at the Geneva Motor Show, the refreshed Smart ForTwo will be available at dealerships all across Europe.
GALLERY: Refreshed Smart ForTwo
The third generation Smart fortwo is on its way, hitting dealers in the spring of 2012. The electric Smart car will roll off the production line in Hamback, France and will be available in more than thirty markets worldwide when released.
The third generation smart fortwo electric drive features a fifty-five kW magneto-electric motor, churning out 130 lb-ft of torque. The fortwo will accelerate from 0-62 mph in less than thirteen seconds, and have a top speed of more than 120 km/h. The 17.6 kWh battery allows the car to travel more than 140 kilometers before needing a recharge.
“The smart fortwo has exceeded itself. It has always been a pioneer of urban mobility and with the new electric drive it is once again setting standards with even more driving fun and environmental compatibility,” says Dr. Annette Winkler, Head of smart. “With the new generation the frequently cited “electric era” has finally arrived.”
The third- gen Smart car will feature a larger radiator grille featuring the electric drive logo, stylish LED lights below the headlights, wider door sills and several modifications to the rear of the vehicle. Smart has also teamed up with iPhone to create a drive app. Important features include making phone calls via hands-free system, your own extensive music collection, internet radio and a navigation system.
Smart is planning to produce a successor to its now retired roadster with the new model is set to hit dealers next year. Inspired by the ForSpeed concept (above), which was revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in March, the car is expected to stay true to the 2003 original with the distinctive low stance. Other design highlights are set to include sculpted flanks along with intricate detailing.
The Smart Roadster was to make a comeback in 2006 when an industry group called Project Kimber planned to sell revised versions of the car using the AC Ace badge. Production was to commence in 2007, but the operation was quietly dropped before a prototype had even hit the road.
In addition to this model, all-new versions of the ForTwo and ForFour are scheduled to hit showrooms in 2014.
GALLERY: Smart ForSpeed EV Roadster
What would you like to see happen in the future? That’s the question posted by Smart on Twitter, and they used the resulting answers to decorate a car.
In 140 characters or less, Smart asked people on Twitter what their view of the future was and had illustrator Johanna Basford pen them on a white Smart ForTwo. And there were some pretty interesting ideas out there, Among them were dog-walking robots, hover beds, commuter roller coasters and walking teapot that follows you and gives you a drink.
The concept was challenging, considering that both Twitter and the ForTwo are pretty compact in size. Both had to be taken into consideration when Basford had to draw the tweets.
“I had to try and imagine how [the inventions] might work, then really quickly sketch that out,” she said. “There’s not much time for procrastination. I like the challenge of thinking on the spot and coming up with a simple, yet clear way to draw things.
You can watch the process on video after the jump.
Dubbed Square Style, the tuners over at Vilner has transformed Smart’s ForTwo to interesting new heights. Originally commissioned for a Bulgarian businessman for advertising purposes, Vilner is now willing to offer this transformation to all those interested in making their Smart ForTwo more stylish and flashy.
No performance modifications were done, but it’s evident that both the exterior and interior of the ForTwo has been overhauled. For this particular vehicle, Vilner repainted the exterior to feature an orange foil and full chrome panels. The orange theme continues with the wheels, mirrors and other minor details.
On the inside, the two-tone theme continues with a full re-upholstery in black and orange. There are even chrome accents in the interior. Last but not least, Vilner swaps out the ForTwo’s stock steering wheel with a new unit.
Official press release and video available after the break.
GALLERY: Vilner Smart ForTwo
Famed Mercedes-Benz tuner Brabus, has continued to expand their Smart ForTwo portfolio, this time with a modified cabrio. Called the Brabus La Bleue, the modified Smart ForTwo will be available only in Italy with a limited production of just 60 units.
On the outside, the special edition vehicle will sport a dark blue metallic paint that is contrasted by Brabus’ Monoblock VII six-twin-spoke wheels in a classy silver finish. The wheel setup is staggered with a 16-inch sizing up front and 17-inch sizing in the rear.
In true Brabus fashion, the interior receives a luxurious treatment of soft beige leather with contrasting blue stitching of Brabus’ logo. The La Bleue comes with Brabus’ tuned Smart ForTwo powerplant, that sports 102-hp.
GALLERY: Brabus Smart ForTwo Cabrio La Bleue
The pint-sized smart fortwo might not be for everyone. Despite being a practical means of transportation for those who mostly drive in city centers, its quirky gearbox is a pain to use in stop and go traffic because its not the smoothest system on the planet.
The smart e.d. (electric drive) on the other hand eliminates that problem, because it has no gearbox, so it is smooth all the way.
The 2nd generation model of the smart e.d. was sold in a limited number of just 250-units in North America, and you could only lease the vehicle, not buy it outright. It wasn’t cheap either. Leasing one would have run you $599 a month, and a down payment of $2,500 was due at signing. You could have easily leased two regular smart cars for that amount and still would have been left with some pocket change to buy some gas.
But the smart e.d. was not really a production car, it was a prototype that was allowed out for a real world test. But starting January 2012, you’ll be able to get your hands on the 3rd generation of the smart e.d. This model will be available for both lease and outright purchase, and while we don’t have any pricing for it yet, chances are it will be cheaper than the previous model.
So if you want a little electric run-about, you don’t have to wait too long now to get your hands on one.
We’re all familiar with the Smart ForTwo, which is a polarizing vehicle to say the least, but initial impressions of their newest concept, the Forspeed EV Roadster, which debuted at the Geneva Auto Show, are all lining up in one direction, and it’s not exactly positive.
Sure, the chopped roof and windshield are kind of cool, but the front end treatment looks like two Lifesaver candies and a sheet of chickenwire, and the three-spoke wheels look to be inspired by mid-1990′s MOMOs you could have purchased from TireRack. The electric powertrain puts out around 40 horsepower, with a 7 horsepower “overboost” function and a top speed of 75 mph. We’ll stick with the standard ForTwo. If we must.
GALLERY: Smart Forspeed EV Roadster
The Forspeed concept is Smart‘s interpretation of a zero-emissions roadster, based on the only vehicle Smart currently builds: its Fortwo city car.
It’s designed to complement the rest of Smart’s electric transportation lineup for really small vehicles, which includes a scooter and a bicycle. The squat, roofless car features huge, ringed headlights reminiscent of eyelashes, dotted grilles, and a white-on-white color scheme inside and out, designed with a “unique and electric look, but is still recognizable as a Smart,” says Mercedes head of design Steffen Kohl.
And you may think three-spoke wheels fell out of fashion in the late-90s, but the Forspeed is rocking them with pride. The interior also features brown leather trim on the door pulls and steering wheel, and solar cells in the wind deflectors to power the car’s electronics.
The 40-horsepower electric motor in the back features an “overboost” function: when the driver presses a button in the center console the motor calls up seven extra horsepower. Think of it as a really toned-down version of the Turbo function from OutRun. The motor can propel the Forspeed up to 75mph and a range of 84 miles.
Mercedes-tuner Lorinser is hopping onto the “go green” bandwagon with an innovative new product: an aftermarket hybrid drivetrain.
This year at the Essen Motorshow, Lorinser has on display its new Easybrid on Smart‘s Fortwo. The electric motor produces around 41-hp and transforms the Fortwo into a hybrid vehicle. Lorinser promises added power and improved fuel economy with a driver-selectable drive mode so you can choose electric power, gasoline/diesel power or a combination of both. The electric battery pack is recharged by regenerative braking and Lorinser claims a 30 km (18.6 miles) of pure electric range.
A drivable prototype was on display in Essen and Lorinser is hoping to have the system working with Volkswagen’s Polo, Renault’s Twingo, and Fiat’s 500.
Lorinser is also hoping to work with utility companies to bring the cost down on the conversion, and they’re hoping to get it around the $6,700 range. We’re fairly excited about the prospects of a future hybrid Fiat 500.
GALLERY: Lorinser Easybrid Smart Fortwo
Full details available after the jump:
Daimler has just announced that it has reached an agreement with Tesla Motors Inc., that will see the German automaker gain a 10 percent stake in the California-based electric car maker.
Along with an undisclosed amount of money the agreement will help forge a partnership between the two companies as they work to bring electric vehicles to market in increasingly high numbers.
Tesla has already been working with Daimler to equip 1,000 SMART fortwo models with lithium-ion batteries for use in special test projects in Berlin and Italy. Daimler also plans to introduce an electric Mercedes vehicle by 2010.
As for Tesla, it will gain the engineering, production and supply chain expertise available at Daimler in order to move the upcoming Tesla Model S into production by 2011.
“Our strategic partnership is an important step to accelerate the commercialization of electric drives globally,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, the board member at Daimler responsible for research and development. “As a young and dynamic company, Tesla stands for visionary power and pioneering spirit. Together with Daimler’s 120 years of experience in the automotive sector this collaboration is a unique combination of two companies’ strengths. This mark another important milestone in Daimler’s strategy for sustainable mobility.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was equally as enthusiastic about the future partnership saying Daimler is on the “leading edge of sustainable mobility.”
“Daimler has set the benchmark for engineering excellence and vehicle quality for more than a century,” said Musk. “It is an honor and a powerful endorsement of our technology that Daimler would choose to invest in and partner with Tesla.”
Official release after the jump:
Special Edition smart now available in the U.S.
Penske Automotive, the distributor of smart vehicles in the U.S., used the LA Auto Show to announce that for 2009 the special Brabus edition cars will be part of its product lineup. Offered initially to current smart owners, the Brabus fourtwo can be had as a Coupe or Cabriolet in either silver or black at a starting price of $17,990 or $20,990, respectively. (A $4,000 premium over the standard production models).
“This car has always been about personal expression,” says Dave Schembri, president of smart USA, “and as we approach our first anniversary of sales in the United States, Brabus adds a new dimension, extending our brand into new areas of customization and personalization.”
The Brabus edition smart fortwo comes with a complete aero-kit including a front lip that is designed to reduce lift on the front axle – giving the car increased stability at highway speeds. Side skirts are also a part of the package as is a new rear bumper with cut-outs for the Brabus exhaust. Most noticeable, however, are the Brabus Monoblock VII wheels in a front 15-inch and rear 17-inch fitment.
Inside there are plenty of other Brabus accessories, like brushed aluminum sport pedals, a Brabus sport steering wheel and Brabus floor mats.
Surprisingly, while the car does have improved shifting and an upgraded suspension that sits 10mm lower thank stock, Brabus did not do any engine tuning – something it is famous for with Mercedes vehicles. Because of this, smart can still market the Brabus fortwo as getting an EPA rated 41 mpg.
Penske also used the LA Auto Show to announce that Brabus accessories for smart vehicles will be sold individually.
A complete list of those accessories can be found after the jump: