Smart Car Fades to Black

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Mercedes is giving up on the not-so-Smart Car, citing “declining micro-car market” in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. Smart sales in 2018 plunged 58 percent from a year earlier to 1,276 cars.

What’s interesting about this is that Smart became electric-only in 2018.

Yet another example of the lack-of-demand for EVs, even when they are massively subsidized and their manufacture mandated (de facto, via “zero emissions” vehicle production quotas).

Which brings up another interesting thing.

Mercedes is going to bring a series of electric cars to market next year. Beginning with the EQC, a compact electric crossover SUV. It is the first of at least ten new electric Benzes scheduled for deployment.

Apparently, lesson not learned.

Of course, the not-so-Smart Car was  hobbled by its two-seater (and not much cargo space) layout, which made it impractical for most people.

But the real problem – with EVs in general – is that they’re functionally and economically gimped relative to IC cars.

“Green” or not they cost too much for most people and so aren’t persuasive on the economic merits.

“Silent,” “quick” and no-oil-changes or not, they still aren’t able to match the driving range of IC cars.

While you can recharge them at home you will still have to wait at least 5-6 times as long as it takes to refuel an IC car.

EV performance – range – is greatly affected by temperature changes as well as the use of necessary accessories such as the heater and AC.

Most people haven’t got the money – or the time – to put up with the expense and inconvenience of EVs… which is obvious but (apparently) unmentionable.

But it needs to be mentioned – for the sake of sanity, if for no other reason.

The EV Emperor has no clothes!

There, I said it.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Smart EVs were a great money maker for my used car salesman BIL.

    He’d buy them cheap used & then sell them to retirees living at the beach.

    Ideal for daily driving…recharge overnight with nothing more than a standard 120VAC outlet.

  2. The Smart EV rendered itself useless day one in North America by not including any kind of L3 DC quick charge feature. In EU, the Smart EV has a high-amperage AC charging option because of the much more plentiful availability of 3 phase charging there and the Mennekes connector supports native 3 phase passthrough. The J1772 connector only supports split-phase at best due to its number of conductors. As such, the onboard charging in North America was limited to like 6.6kW which would make the onboard battery charge in no less than ~4 hours. With L3 DC quick charging, the thing could be 0-80% in less than 20 minutes. If it had L3 DC quick charging, as someone who has to park frequently on the street in NYC, I would have found a way to buy one.

  3. Funny. I owned a Smart 451 for 8 years and I’m still alive. And while it may have slowed going up long grades, it would run at its top speed of 151km/h (as per the GPS) on the flat as long as I wanted. On the Autopistas and two lane Mexican highways, I normally drove 120-140 km/h with no problems. In the city, it was great for parking and only a few times did I need a larger car for transporting something from Home Depot. Fuel economy is what broke this car. The 450 could be gotten with a Diesel but this car made no sense with a gas motor. A VW UP! has more room and is just as economical.

  4. I guess the tip-off for this demise should have been seen at the beginning: the name. Who would name an actual “smart” car that? Clearly it was a name to appeal to clueless buyers to make themselves feel better about buying this coffin on wheels.
    I have seen these in France and Italy and there in the cities, w/o much parking, they make some sense. Better than motor-scooters and motorbikes, because they have four wheels and a weather proof (more or less) enclosure. And some inside carrying capacity. But the US isn’t Europe. I have driven for several years a 1975 MG Midget (long ago) and that was dangerous enough. Fun but scary on freeways. But the tiny Smart car looks like a Clown Car from cartoons. No sale..

  5. I wonder if it is true that the CO2 produced manufacturing the batteries – EV’s actually produce more CO2 than an ic engine will over it’s entire lifespan

    • Hi Johnny,

      There is disagreement on this and it’s always hard to disentangle conformation bias inherent in most research from “the truth”. How electricity is produced matters a lot. In France, with a large proportion of electricity produced by nuclear power, it is likely that the lifetime CO2 emissions from electric vehicles are less than IC vehicles. If coal is the dominant power source, it is likely to be the opposite.

      Still, CO2 hysteria is ridiculous and is a sort of mass delusion manipulated into existence by those who stand to profit greatly.


      • Just look at the sun with an Hydrogen Alpha bandwidth telescope and tell me that you see no sunspots. I will then tell you that you can see with your eye that old Sol is taking a break from the assholiness of the Goreites.

        • Since the visible layers of the sun are the only ones where hydrogen can exist in its atomic form, and sunspots only exist in the coolest parts of the sun’s surface, an Hydrogen Alpha bandwidth telescope is totally unnecessary to see sunspots.

    • CO2 emissions are irrelevant because CO2 is not pollution. It’s plant food. Even gunvermin-controlled NASA admits it.

      One of the other things that the Climate Cult hysterics and their fellow travelers in the mainstream media don’t mention is that when the world experienced lower CO2 levels we were getting uncomfortably close to plant death.

  6. Eric,

    Why did you make this into an Electric Car Rant? You are simply muddying the waters.

    The “Smart” car was on its deathbed when it still had an IC engine. It was really slow, too small to be practical for even 98% if its “target audience.” And considering that template, it got amazingly bad mpg.

    Whether electric, IC, hybrid, or nuclear powered, the “Smart” car was a horribly executed concept that deserved to die….much sooner than it did.

    • Yeah, right! Some years ago, I had a Subaru Justy, a little economy car like the Geo Metro was. My Subie got BETTER mileage than the ‘Smart Car’! As small as it was, it should have gotten 50 mpg, easy…

  7. Affluent people buy new cars then pass the used but still serviceable cars to less affluent or frugal buyers who extend their lives with after-market parts and service. The astronomical cost of replacement batteries will mean that there will be no secondary market for used electric vehicles. I wouldn’t be surprised if the powers that be consider that a benefit.

    • It is similar to the reason why many late model trade-ins go to the crusher to support the sale and price of new cars glutting the dealers’ lots. The only vehicles that avoid this fate are those sold by the owner to the new owner without a trade in. None of the ancient daily drivers in my area ever make it to a dealership because they can’t fix them anymore.

    • Ahh…but once these Priuses (or Priii?) start ‘retiring’ in droves, what of their batteries THEN? Did Toyota put something into a fund to front the costs of disposal? Somehow I doubt it! I can imagine some retired schoolteacher that naively bought a Prius in, say, 2008, and has paid it off, being frugal and “carbon conscious”, will be in for a rude awakening in, say, 2025, when her old Prius has finally breathed its last…and not only with “Cars 4 Kids” not touch them, when she contacts a wrecker to come haul the old girl away (the Prius, not her), she’s hit with a $2,000 “fee” for battery disposal instead of a tidy little payoff for the junker. Or imagine that’s what some 24 y.o. single mother, having bought a used Prius and finally she can’t fix it up anymore, likewise is stuck with the outrageous cost to get rid of it! Expect in about five years to see the ‘po side of town littered with derelict Prii, with no wrecking yard willing to accept them.

  8. The Dumb Car is the classic answer to the question nobody asked. Apparently those morally superior (but dumb) people who buy them never ask themselves where the electricity with which they charge their cars comes from, the answer to which is mainly coal, hydroelectric, or (GASP!) nuclear power plants. These dimbulbs apparently believe there indeed is a free lunch.

  9. It makes for an ideal city car, driving into Manhattan, because it’s so short you can always find parking for it. Given the cost of Manhattan parking, being able to find street parking could pay for the car in a few years.

    I cannotthink of a use for the thing beyond that.

    • Hi Thomas,

      I’ve driven them. They aren’t bad. The problem is they are absurdly expensive – you can buy two Fiat 500s for the price of one Smart car and have room for twice as many people – and startlingly fuel-inefficient given how small they are.

    • The Dumb Car is the classic answer to the question nobody asked. Apparently those morally superior (but dumb) people who buy them never ask themselves where the electricity with which they charge their cars comes from, the answer to which is mainly coal, hydroelectric, or (GASP!) nuclear power plants. These dimbulbs apparently believe there indeed is a free lunch.

  10. Here in China I see Smart cars. However, for $3600, you can buy a Zotye or other brand car that seats 4. Buy three 4-seaters and get change back from a Smart-for-2.
    No wonder sales are off.

    • Hi Roddy,

      Yup. If the Smart car cost $12k or so – and delivered 60 MPG…. I think it’d have sold decently as a commuter car. But it costs twice that – and only delivers about half that mileage!

      • Hey Eric,

        My buddy has a ’92 Civic hatchback VX that he says averages in the high 40’s and is capable of mid 50’s for highway driving. Interestingly, in addition to the Vtec engine, fuel savings were achieved by meticulous attention to reducing weight. It will carry 4 people pretty comfortably and has decent luggage space in the back.

        Too bad such vehicles have been fatwa’d out of existence.


        • Not unusual for the time. By the late 1980s/early 1990s emission controls had been pretty much sorted out and the saaaaaafety control freaks hadn’t yet escalated curb weights.

  11. Since car companies have so much money to burn that they can develop & make all of these electric toys that noone will buy, it makes you realize they must’ve been overcharging everyone for the past 25+ years. So, for all the $35,000+ cars & trucks for sale today, apparently they could be very profitable charging HALF of that price!

  12. I was discussing something similar with a cousin in tech. We were talking about a company called Anki which just went out of business. This company had 3 products – AI robots and race cars – which were technically amazing but essentially £250+ kids toys. As a gizmo awesome – but as a business model no way it could make money. This company however went on to raise over $200M from investors – I have no idea how they ever thought they would get anything out of it.

    Now I think whats happening is that those above have bought their own BS propaganda that the economy is booking and everything is amazing, and in this world everyone can buy £250+ toys for their children, and can also buy a +30K car which is meant for use just around the city when the weather is good. Again most people I know who have electric cars just use it for a city run around – but have a real car for when they have to go far or forgot to plug the thing in at night. In the same way that when I was a kid many people had say a convertible for the weekend, but no way they would use it for the daily drive.

    And I think thats the problem with a smart car. They lost the point. Yes it would be a brilliant city car. if priced appropriately. any many need such a cheap reliable easy to drive car. But not at that price….. but they will just never get it….

  13. I asked a guy at a gas station what his mpg was on his smart car. He looked like an older upper middle class liberal man. I’m from Minneapolis. He was so much on the defensive that he just said 100mpg. It was like he was used to getting made fun of and was always watching his back. I already knew it got in the high 30’s mpg and that the same era honda civics had more trunk space, more seating capacity and got the same mpg. Why buy a boring 2 seater box that only got up to 40 mpg highway. These smart cars were not fuel efficient enough despite their small packaging.

    • this is actually true – know someone who had one once (a smart for4) they give horrible gas mileage for a car thats the size of a shopping trolley….. I dont get how its possible…. think its down to the tiny extremely turboed up engine…..

  14. Well, the reason you buy a Mercedes Benz, or any expensive car, for that matter, is because you get more creature comforts and fewer hassles. You know, like it used to be, when you had to buy an expensive car to get power anything, even as an option.

    But in a world where $15K compacts have power everything as standard, and go more than 10 years and 100K miles with minor glitches, if that, the case for buying a luxury car isn’t so solid anymore.

    And with an electric car, even an electric luxury car like a Mercedes Benz, you get a whole new set of hassles, from waiting hours to charge your car, to reduced range anytime the mercury falls below 40 degrees or rises above 90, to becoming a giant paperweight when the battery goes kaput, to the farkakteh thing spontaneously turning into a BBQ pit…with you in it!

    The only thing these electric white elephants will be good for is for rich people, or anyone with more money than sense, to virtue signal with. That’s what all of these electric cars are about, anyway. “Look how I’m being greeeeeeeen with my electric car!”

  15. Why don’t the automakers bribe, er make generous campaign contributions, to politicians to enact policies that favor them? Big pharma got an exemption of liability for any defective and dangerous vaccines they may foist on the public. That’s right; if your kid dies from a vaccine he was forced to take, the parents CANNOT SUE big pharma! Why don’t the automakers do the same? Why don’t they use the power of their money to influence politicians to do away with CAFE, the absurd safety requirements, etc.?

    • Its all part of some new world order crap where the elites rule over us. Theyre not interested in personal freedom they want obedient drones. EVs fit that perfectly.

      • Big Pharma worked the system and got an EXEMPTION from liability for defective vaccines. Why didn’t the automakers work the system and legally bribe influential politicians to secure more favorable treatment for themselves?

          • I wasn’t thinking of courage, though that’s in short supply. I was thinking more of plain old, primal SELF PRESERVATION.

        • The vaccines aren’t defective. They aren’t designed to do anything but make the recipient sick so they’ll go to the doctor for additional ineffective prescriptions with extensive side effects, and so on, and so on…
          Even the best “organic” food is being grown on depleted soil bereft of the trace nutrients that mammalian cells need but plants just pass through. Nutrition can only be accomplished with nutrients and those are in swift decline from all store bought food.

    • Occasionally, they do. Ever been angry that you couldn’t have a Nissan Skyline? Blame Mercedes, they led the charge to legislate the gray market out of existence on the grounds that it was undermining their pricing/marketing strategies and business in general. This is despite the fact that they themselves have used the gray market to test the waters, both before their act got passed (560SEsomething) and after (the original USDM Smart Car).


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