How Intelligent Are Our Modern Cars?

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The Automotive Sector’s Lost Boy

The micro city coupe “ForTwo” is just over 8 feet in length, less than 5 feet wide, and 5 feet in height, but don’t be fooled by its diminutive appearance; it delivers excellent performance on today’s roads. Vikings feature improved stability, braking, and general comfort because of their roll cages like those seen in racecars, anti-lock (ABS) brakes, cutting-edge electronics, microprocessors, and superior drivetrain; they weigh 818 kilos and are 3 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper. It offers high-end features such as a GPS navigation system, rearview camera, night vision, parking assist, automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and voice command. Of course, the most intelligent vehicle is one that can drive itself.

Tiny two-seaters with cutting-edge technology and a central processing unit are called “smart cars,” they’re ideal for city driving in tight spaces. Swatch and Daimler-Benz collaborated 1994 to create the Micro Compact Car (MCC) prototype shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997 as the “Swatchmobile.” “Smart” was coined due to a joint effort between Swatch and Mercedes, Swatch Mercedes ART. In 2008, Smart debuted the improved “ForTwo” model in the United States.

I don’t see the wisdom in that.

Nicolas Hayek, the man responsible for the Swatch watch brand, also had the idea to create a compact automobile. He envisioned a compact vehicle that was easy to park in tight locations, had little emissions, and was good for the environment. His offspring at DaimlerAG’s Smart business and at Renault and General Motors (GM) now sell eco-friendly vehicles powered by electric motors or hybrid engines.

Despite early reluctance, Smart is increasingly becoming the option of choice. Over 750,000 ForTwos have been sold in Europe and Japan so far. There has been a lot of recent interest in subcompact cars as well. Demand for fuel-efficient vehicles like the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Volt has increased, as seen by their respective waiting lists and pre-booking policies. The Smart brand is ideally situated in the luxury design and technology market, which attracts the upper middle class of urban areas, especially the younger generation.

These microcars may be little, but they deliver big on fuel efficiency. ForTwo is barely 5 feet wide, but a Hummer H1 is 7 feet wide. As a practical matter, this means that a Smart Car doesn’t have to park in a long line of parallel parking but instead may back up to the curb. You can parallel park two or three Smart Cars in a single-street parking spot. Swatch considered producing such a vehicle for markets in the United States and Europe, where scarce resources like parking and gas are more heavily taxed. The cars are agile and swift off the line, outperforming even certain supercars in congested urban environments. ForTwo’s short length allows for a remarkable 22.8-foot turning circle, significantly less than the 35.7 feet required by a Honda Civic.

The front-mounted Tridion Safety Cell shows that Smart has mastered the challenge of ensuring the security of its products. When a collision occurs, the vehicle’s crumple zones are triggered, enclosing the passengers in a protective bubble. Euro NCAP gave the second-generation ForTwo a score of 4/5 for adult occupant safety.

Compared to four-wheeled vehicles powered by a standard gasoline engine, ForTwo is among the most economical. In terms of fuel economy, it pales compared to a hybrid, but it looks fantastic and is more straightforward to park than a regular SUV. It is available in various body and Tridion Safety Cell colors and can usually snag the last parking spot. Smart is the most promising car with four wheels in terms of protecting the planet. Because it is battery-powered, it does not produce any harmful emissions.

However, Smarts have never been all that smart when it comes to cost. ForTwo automatic drives start from $20,640 in the United States and $19,650 in Europe; the all-electric ForTwo Cabrio (competent ED) is priced at $28,750. Buyers interested in saving money on gas can purchase a small conventional car with comparable mpg for several thousand dollars less than the price of a ForTwo.

Because it has electrically assisted power steering, the ForTwo jumps disproportionately over bumps in the road. In the hands of an experienced, the disc and drum brakes also have a synthetic feel.

When it comes to velocity and mileage, Smarts are sluggish as well. The newest ForTwo Cabrio’s 0-60 mph time is 10.2 seconds, slower than the standard sedans of 5-7 seconds but still respectable. Due to the significant reduction in economy and electric range at higher speeds, its top speed has been limited to 81 mph. It’s also impractical because a full charge takes three hours from a 240-volt outlet or sixteen and a half hours from a standard household plug, rendering the vehicle’s predicted range of seventy to eighty miles useless.

Plus Clever

In July 2006, DaimlerChrysler unveiled the ForTwo EV, an electric version of the Smart Car, at the British Motor Show. In 2018, it began selling the ForTwo Electric Drive, a unique hatchback with a starting price of $24,550 and a range of 70 miles per charge thanks to its mid-mounted, 80-horsepower electric engine. The most up-to-date ForTwo Cabriolet is the ‘convertible’ variant of the classic Electric Drive. Like its predecessor, the cabriolet features an electric motor and a surprisingly large load area.

The Smart lineup includes more than just the ForTwo. Even though the Smart car was discontinued in 2015, it has worthy competition in Toyota’s Scion iQ. Competitors like the Mitsubishi I-MiEV and the Fiat 500e have made things difficult for the ForTwo. The Honda Fit and the Chevrolet Volt aren’t the tiniest cars available. However, they give the Smart sector a run for its money regarding hybrid drivetrains, automotive intelligence, and fuel economy. Another competitor that provides both good looks and rugged performance is the Mini Cooper. These vehicles are designed to give as much inside room as possible while maintaining a compact overall profile. Mercedes also offers the Smart Roadster and Forfour, which are close relatives of the ForTwo. The latter is being redesigned to provide a compact 44 SUV for the United States and Brazil home markets. For the next generation, Hyundai is creating fully autonomous vehicles, while Samsung is working on an information and entertainment system for cars. Both companies are competing in the market to introduce highly intelligent automobiles.

Whether or not this Smart will completely replace gasoline-powered conventional automobiles is unclear, but it is clearly a beautiful alternative for city driving. We’ll have to wait for time to tell for sure. With gas prices at all-time highs and environmental remediation as a pressing concern, now is the opportunity for manufacturers to introduce and for consumers to adopt more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly Smart cars for daily commuting.

Smart cars are a transportation system that is modest in stature but huge on the economy, and as we contemplate the future, we have plenty of time to weigh the pros, cons, and repercussions of these vehicles.

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