Tiny Car Reflections

Electric Smart Fortwo
Electric Smart Fortwo

About two years ago, I purchased an electric Smart Car. When I was living in Spain about 20 years ago (!), I test drove a gas Smart for a week (what a nice promotion that was), and wanted one for a long time.  It wasn’t enough to live in a tiny Airstream, I needed a tiny car to go with it! I love the little 2-seater, which my father calls “the roller skate.”

After two years, I have noticed a few things:

  • Observations
    Despite being a relatively popular selling car, people stare at the car all the time.
  • The car is ridiculously fast for its size.
  • The distance estimate (think: a gas gauge for the battery pack) is usually conservative. I used to be afraid to drive it around town too much for fear of running out of juice. I’ve never come close, as the car regenerates power as you’re using it.
  • Gas cars rate higher for highway mileage than city mileage. This electric is just the opposite. Stop and go traffic is preferable, because it give the car an opportunity to regenerate more energy and sock it away into the battery.
  • The federal and state incentives made this purchase a no-brainer.
  • Guys in giant SUVs and trucks pull up next to the car at red lights and laugh all the time.  Then, the light turns green, and I take full advantage of the instant torque and leave them sitting in the dust at the light, by the next light, the pointing always turns to a thumbs up.
  • The car annoys people. People tailgate and road rage around it all the time, as if to say “my car is bigger and more important than your stupid little car.” In fact, some people have rolled down the window and said exactly that.
  • There is much more cargo space than there seems to be.
  • The car needs zero maintenance. There are no oil changes, and really not a whole lot to repair. I take it in once a year for an inspection (again, not needed) and a battery check.
  • I love the fact that the car is electric. People ask all the time “how many miles to the gallon does that little car get.” I always answer “zero, it’s electric.” 9 times out of 10, they just look at me confused. It seems folks just can’t yet grasp that a car runs on electric and not gas.
  • The battery is remarkably stable. The car can be unplugged for weeks and hold 100% charge. The battery continues to hold a significant charge, and hasn’t lost any capacity over the last two years.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this car, and would purchase it again in a second.

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