AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Gas sippers were popular this week – even with those hunting for all-wheel drive options.
How much bird crap does it take to crush a Smart car? Thanks to one snarky blogger, the company crunched some numbers to find out.
Heading to Germany’s Smart dealerships in October is a limited edition ForTwo Iceshine model, priced at around $18,300 (€14,490).
According to Smart, the ForTwo Edition Iceshine “combines a fresh, cheeky look with chic equipment details.” The model can currently be preordered in white or exclusive azure blue boasting a retro double three-spoke wheel design finished in white. The tridion safety cell also comes in white and the special edition model can be ordered in either coupe or convertible form.
The color trend continues on the inside, with all Iceshine models coming with exclusive leather-effect seats with a white insert on the backrests and white stitching. The steering wheel also comes in a three-spoke, leather design while the ring rounds on the dash are also in white.
The Iceshine Edition ForTwo will be limited to just 1,800 units and is based on the Passion Equipment Line model.
GALLERY: Smart ForTwo Edition Iceshine
Smart knows exactly how electric cars are perceived by the general public; as small and economic vehicles that you buy to save money on gas. But opinions can be changed, and Smart staged a clever marketing event which aimed to prove that acceleration and performance are also part of its electric cars persona.
The idea is simple; take the classic game “pong” (although Smart calls it e-ball) and recreate it using cars as controllers. The acceleration is tested as the Smart cars must blast straight forwards and backwards as quickly as possible to avoid being scored on.
This may not prove that these cars are race track ready, but the brand is looking to invigorate sales by showing that small electric cars can be efficient, and fun.
Watch the video below.
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.
Ford recently announced the EPA fuel efficiency rating for its electric Focus model. Since it doesn’t burn any gasoline, the number isn’t in miles per gallon (MPG), but was given as miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, or MPGe. A new term to the automotive lexicon, it’s worth exploring exactly what MPGe means and how an MPGe rating is determined, especially as the number of electric cars and plug-in electric hybrids on the roads continues to increase.
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
Michael Schumacher had twinkly eyes when he got his new bike, or at least that’s what Daimler said in its press release.
Whether or not that was true, Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are the two first people to own the new Smart ebike. They received them at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona where we would like to imagine both racers riding around for a few minutes making “vroom” noises and looking silly.
Funny as it would be, there’s nothing silly about the €2849 price tag that translates to roughly $3,700 dollars. It’s hard to imagine how smart you would really feel cruising around on an almost-$4000 bicycle. Well, it does get you over 100 kilometers on one charge from the 400-Wh lithium-ion battery, so at least you are getting some bang for your buck.
The Smart ebike will be available in April with two color options: white with green “trim” as seen above or matte grey with orange.
Smart describes the bike as if it were a car in its release, try not to chuckle.
“As a pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) the smart ebike is strictly speaking a hybrid vehicle: the electric motor switches on as soon as the rider starts pedalling. Muscle power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a lubricant-free, durable and quiet belt drive in place of a conventional bicycle chain.”
It’s a good thing the geniuses at Smart decided to make it “rear-wheel drive” because all that power would probably lead to some serious wheel hop during drag races. You’ve been put on notice, world. Stay off the sidewalks.
February treated the auto industry well this year, at least for the most part. The majority of automakers saw sales increases over the same month last year.
Chrysler was the big winner, reporting a 40 percent sales increase over February of last year. Even GM posted a tiny 1.1 percent gain over last year despite suffering from poor Cadillac and Buick sales. In fact, industry sales grew 16 percent overall compared to last year.
Cars made in North America grew the most, by 17 percent, while European manufactured vehicles saw the smallest increase — only 2 percent.
Last month’s sales numbers were nothing short of striking, but one of the most interesting developments came from the muscle car battle Chevrolet and Ford are waging against one another. The Mustang finally beat the Camaro in sales with 7,351 units to Chevrolet’s 6,923.
The next question is how long those numbers will last, given that the new 580-horsepower ZL1 Camaro is being released and is said to be the best bow tie-bearing pony car yet.
Among the other companies with impressive growth, Mercedes-Benz sub-brand Smart saw a 59 percent increase. British luxury brand Jaguar enjoyed a 48 percent boost, and while Volkswagen and MINI enjoyed 43 and 42 percent increases respectively. Even econo-box manufacturer Kia saw a 37 percent sales jump over last year.
The recent stories of the Tesla Roadster “bricking” will likely cause owners of other electric vehicles to worry. We’ve managed to track down and get a comment about the measures in place that can prevent other EVs from becoming damaged like the Tesla.
A “bricked” car is a lot like a bricked gadget. It can’t and won’t turn on, and is essentially useless (unless you want to use it as a giant and expensive paperweight).
The story is that an owner let his Roadster die and left it uncharged for two months. The car then couldn’t be turned on or started, or re-charged. When the car was taken for repairs it was found that it would cost $40,000 to fix the vehicle.
It’s stated several times in the Roadster’s owner’s manual not to leave the vehicle discharged for an extended period of time. Specifically: “Situations may arise when in which you must leave your vehicle unplugged for an extended period of time. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that the battery does not become fully depleted.” Lastly, “Over-discharge can permanently damage the battery.” While it’s clear that owner negligence caused this damage, some blame can be put on the manufacturer to have more safety measures to protect the vehicle.
Nissan states that the Leaf cannot be fully discharged “thanks to an advanced battery management system designed to protect the battery from damage. One element of the battery management system is a failsafe wall that stops the battery from reaching absolute zero state-of-charge, even after a period of unplugged storage,”Steve Yaegar, Nissan’s technology communications manager said.
Still there are some warnings in the Leaf’s manual that advises owners to take proper care of its battery. One of the more conspicuous warnings says: “Avoid leaving your vehicle for over 14 days where the Li-ion battery available charge gauge reaches a zero or near zero (state of charge)”
When pushed, Yaegar skirted the issue of what would happen to a Leaf if a user ignored that advice.
While the Chevrolet has a gas generator to help keep the battery charged, what would happen if the battery is discharged completely? Nothing really. Chevrolet spokesperson Robert Peterson told us “This isn’t an issue for the Volt. The Volt uses only 10.4 kW of its 16 kWh battery. The rest of the battery space serves as a buffer to prevent overcharging or deep discharging.”
In the i-MiEV’s warranty manual, Mitsubishi states that the standard warranty does not cover any damages to the Li-Ion battery resulting from “failure to keep the main drive lithium-ion battery charged during storage of the vehicle.”
John Arnone a representative from Mitsubishi, said that while the i-MiEV battery can be fully discharged, if left for a long period of time it will still be able to be recharged by the usual means.
It’s true that electric Smart cars aren’t really on sale (lease-only), a member of customer relations told us that the upcoming 2013 model shouldn’t encounter any issues if left discharged. She did warn us that it may take a bit longer to fully charge back up again though.
It’s clear that electric vehicles are in their infancy. Being able to drive about without paying for gas certainly is a huge benefit. However, potential electric car buyers are already concerned about cost, range anxiety and charge times. Looks like its time to add battery maintenance to that list of concerns.
Making its way to the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show will be Rinspeed’s Dock + Go creation, an innovative yet strange concept that will leave some scratching their heads.
The Swiss-based tuner is marketing the Dock + Go as a backpack on wheels but is also a detachable range-extender for electric cars. The product essentially adds a third axle to the vehicle, adding an extra pair of wheels to a compact electric car – in this case, a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. Essentially it’s a mini-trailer that can also serve as a range-extender, but its versatility is what leaves the possibilities endless for what it can be used for.
In its demo photos, for example, Rinspeed shows off its Dock + Go aiding in a pizza delivery company, camping, golfing, skiing, and more. We could definitely see these things being a hit out at tailgating parties in the US.
Rinspeed didn’t release exact figures as to how long the extended range is with the Dock + Go.