My Response to the Cynicism of the Editors of Automobile Magazine

Discussion in 'Mercedes-Benz' started by Ptero, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. Ptero

    Ptero Hydrogen Nut, Battery Skeptic

    My Response to the Cynicism of the Editors of Automobile Magazine

    This is part of this thread:
    My Response to the Cynicism of the Editors of Automobile Magazine

    This is the reason that the user gave:
    A few people were concerned about the readability of this post since it used ALL CAPS in some sections. As a moderator I was going to fix this post, and after typing it all up remembered that I'm not a mod. Duh!. Anyway. here is a much easier to read version of the post. fix it if you like. -- Eric.

    Last July, automobile magazine, which I have read for years and highly respect, ran a series of opinions by its staffers on the u.s. introduction of the smart car. Six months later, i received a smart fortwo pure coupe and put over a thousand miles on it in a week, driving crowded Los Angeles freeways and rural highways. The following is my point by point response (in caps). <edit by moderator: Magazine quotes in quoted areas. Responses now in regular text.>

    While i agree this is a gamble, i am finding an astounding percentage of teenagers want one. Why? They can't afford the gas in both used or new Detroit iron. It isn't just the cuteness factor. The kids want to be able to go places. They want to explore and relish in the freedom of personal transportation. I remember when i was a kid. Gas was 25-cents a gallon. I drove all over the west. It was fantastic! It was the most valuable experience of my life. Today's kids want the same thing. The smart fortwo makes it possible.

    I am not really expecting many problems from my pure. It is relatively uncomplicated. It reminds me of the basic, stripped down car that was pretty normal to buy years ago before all these extravagant options became the norm. Smart USA offered me a 100,000 mile warranty for just over $1,500 and i took it. I took a/c, too. Those were the only extras. The 3-cylinder 999cc engine was designed by Mitsubishi engineers for the u.s. market. It has a longer stroke for better power without increasing stress so i expect it to be as reliable as Mitsubishi's other engines. Considering that i bought the car for high mileage and will be driving with a light right foot, it would not surprise me to get a quarter million or more out of this engine. Of course, only time will tell, but i suspect Sam Smith's opinion is based on the smaller engine used in Europe which, if i may be critical, he should know better than to compare with the newly designed smartfortwo Mitsubishi 999cc engine.

    Again, Sam Smith seems to be caught up in a peer induced derision of the new smart based on previous versions.

    Obviously, small cars don't always work in America. Detroit has pursued a successful policy of propaganda that trains consumers to unquestionly accept insanely large vehicles. Unfortunately, hauling several tons of steel everywhere you go has a price. But now with crude above $100 a barrel, and a lot of analysts saying it will stay there, we appear to be in a replay of the middle 1970s. That period of time, following the Arab oil embargo, gave the Japanese economy cars niche market entry which was received enthusastically by the American public, resulting in a huge market share sacrifice by Detroit which they never regained. We are witnessing the same thing happening again. And the smart fortwo, although it is not the ultimate compromise toward mileage from power, is a very strong early entry in this new trend. And i have a bone to pick here with Sam Smith concerning his claim of "limited practicality". Ninety percent of my driving and my wife's driving requires moving our bodies and sometimes a few grocery bags or other small items. We are often alone in the car. We find that our larger vehicles are the ones with "limited practicality". We don't need the extra space. We don't need to haul all that iron with us everywhere. We don't need to pay for the extra fuel that these huge, heavy, aerodynamically dirty vehicles require. Certainly they have their uses, but we don't haul several people or heavy goods all the time. What's wrong with having a real economy car when it makes sense? We want to drive the smart fortwo almost all the time. That should tell you something. And finally, Sam Smith's comment on a "wheezy engine"? I find the note of the 999cc Mitsubishi power plant very sweet. I can keep up with anybody at legal speeds. My smart climbed Cajon pass out of riverside at 65 mph! The engine isn't wheezy. It sings. I'm impressed.

    I did not buy my smart for adulation. In fact, the crowds it attracts irritate me. However, i am always cordial and answer their questions because i would like to see more economy cars on the road to lower the ratio of fuel hogs. If people did not waste fuel on the unnecessary hauling of unneeded iron and only used fuel to move needed items, the fuel demand of the countyy would decrease, bringing down the cost of fuel and making the highways safer with fewer amateurs driving unnecessarily large vehicles unsafely. I am not a "hipster", i am a realist. I do not have unlimited income and would not waste it if i did. I am a professional driver with great experience over many years hauling hazardous bulk liquids commercially at GVWS up to 120 thousand pounds. I have trucks ranging from a half ton to 33,000 lbs. I need a good reason to fire one up and go somewhere. I am not criticising the use of large vehicles. I am criticising the unnecessary use of large vehicles which i believe is stupid and wasteful. This nationwide unnecessary burning of fuel has created a greater reliance on petroleum which in turn creates a mindset that excessive fuel use is a requirement of modern life. Now people are sending their kids to fight oil wars. I can't rationalize that. For someone to label me a "fashon concious freak" for desiring a sustainable economy as the alternative to our military oil imperialism, which will inevitably bring unmitigated disaster upon the first world, our nation, our lives and the lives of our children, is an insult, and i hope that Sam Smith will rethink his conclusions in the light of the ongoing destruction of the first world economies by spiraling fuel prices.

    The stupidity of this statement almost leaves me speechless. "unused smarts flooding the u.s. market" - unused cars that get 50 mpg ten years from now with oil at what? $250 @ barrel? Give me a break. I grew up in Bakersfield, California, the hot rod capital of the world. We actually put v8s in Morris Miners when gas was 25-cents per gallon. It was cool. (to look at, not to drive. You right leg was on the exhaust manifold...) Been there. Done that. But now we are entering a new paradigm. China. Inda. The third world. They are moving up. Nothing is going to change that. It is their right. And it is time for us to accommodate them. What do we have to give up to do that? Hauling unnecessary iron everywhere with us. That's what. That is not much of a sacrifice. I am willing to do that. It makes me feel good. But to me, Sam Smith is no seer. He seems more the fool. Ultimately the market will decide who is right. My money is on roger Penske. In ten years, i expect NASCAR will be running on hydrogen and people will be going to racetracks in vehicles evolved from smart cars.

    The 1400 smart cars introduced to the u.s. in their first month (January 2008) was certainly a conservative number. My impression, after 1000 miles and 1000 eager questions from onlookers, is that people seem desperate for these cars. I find Erik Johnson's comment of "no cargo capacity" entirely disingenuous, even dishonest. I can fit 4 grocery bags behind the seats. My border collie loves it back there. I found a 5-gallon can of oil fits perfectly in front of the passenger seat. What does Erik Johnson think normal people carry on day-to-day trips? My daughter lives in Chicago and could say nothing but she needed one to find parking. She commutes 35 miles a day. She hauls her body to work and back. She even said her cello would fit with the passenger seat down. But she owns what Detroit calls an economy car, a gm 6-cylinder. Sadly, it gets little over 20 miles per gallon. The gas is killing her. "my car is twice as long as your fortwo!" She says. She wants me to trade. No way. I'm writing it off at 50.5 cents per mile. It will pay for itself in 12 months. She can get her own. By the way, Erik Johnson, my pure fortwo cost $11,500 before a/c and the 100,000-mile warranty. It is c-h-e-a-p. I expect them to do very, very well. I even expect roger Penske's investment in this venture to be the best of his impressive career.

    Again, the derision. Cars bouncing off other cars "like ping pong balls" is a bad thing when what we have currently is cars melding together in a nightmare of blood, steel and gore. This is preferable? The Tridon safety cell will inevitably demonstrate success or failure in the coming months. From what i have seen, it represents a revolution. Regardless, if you say that building larger vehicles is always safer, then we'll all wind up driving tanks at 2 miles per gallon. Where does it stop? I think it stops with the smart fortwo. And we hear from Erik Johnson, as Sam Smith implied earlier, that smarts will stop selling. I don't see this. I don't see the line getting shorter. This is a revolution. Remember, Detroit didn't notice the last one until it was over.

    So, republicans won't buy smart cars? I was a republican until bush made our military the armed wing of the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Now do i have to buy 10 mpg cars to be an American? No. I change parties and vote the republicans out. It is as simple as that. No oil war = no terrorism.

    "Seemingly"? I got 54 mpg in my smart fortwo on my last 84 mile trip. Yes, i only averaged 50 mph but I'm examining economic survival factors here. It does get middle forties mpg at 55 mph and lower forties at 65-70 mph.

    You got it!

    Don, 10-4, i am super cool, I've got what you don't, and automobile magazine is a dork for missing this turn of events!

    I find the $3.75 per gallon for premium i am paying now to be extremely painful. That's why i bought my smart fortwo.

    I parked my smart behind a pickup when i was shopping in town. Just made it past the red curb. No other car could have done that. These opportunities are everywhere. So Joe Lorio is clearly wrong. The smart car offers a pronounced, obvious and inarguable advantage in city parking. Anywhere.

    Based on what I've seen so far, driving my smart around, accosted by hordes of people desperate to lower their fuel costs, i say that is an extremely conservative estimate.

    You guys really need to get out. Borrow a smart. Drive it around and see what people think. It is your obligation as journalists. Otherwise, i suggest you find a real job because you are going to wreck your magazine with this claptrap.

    Yeah, i like the roadster, too. But i like economy and practicality even more. Part of that funny look is the height of the fortwo. That is a huge safety factor. Other people can see it in traffic - and the fortwo's driver can see them. You think the fortwo is goofy-looking? I think the Lincoln Navigator is goofy-looking, especially with one person driving it. The first thing i'd like to see for the smart isn't the roadster, it's a turbocharged engine, then the maybe the diesel version if they can clean it up enough. Like i said, it's not either-or. I have big vehicles. They have a purpose. But I'm a businessman. I just don't want to pay to drive them if I'm not getting a reasonable return. Most of my driving involves a trip to talk to someone face-to-face, sign some papers, inspect a facility, have a lunch, have a dinner, go to a movie, go shopping for groceries, go to the post office, take the dog to the vet, take the wife to dinner, go exploring new places. None of these require another ton of iron or even a roadster. You people at automobile magazine are the ones obsessed with style. It's funny to hear you say we little folks are buying smarts to be cool or that we'd rather have a "cool" smart like a roadster. Heck, I've got a jag! I don't drive it very much because it gets 12 mpg but when i do, i think I'm cool. But when i want to go somewhere and do something, i jump in the smart. It's fun. It's cheap. It does the job. I love it!

    And strangely enough, the "cool factor" is greater with the smart fortwo than with any car I've ever owned or even driven. People are fascinated with the smart - even more so than with foreign luxury cars costing $100,000 or more. People drive up next to me on the freeway, roll down their windows and wave and grin. Folks in big pickups give me thumbs up and take pictures with their cell phones. I have never experienced this in any other vehicle. When i go through a drive-through, sometimes everyone in there will stick their head out. Some guy will be standing by my smart at the curb and waylay me for ten minutes, finally saying "i'll never drive one!" But he let slip his wife wants one now and he was on the phone as i walked up telling her all about it.

    My bank teller left the bank and was sitting in it in no time, screaming with joy.

    "what do you think it cost?" I asked her.

    "thirty-two thousand?" She said. She went speechless when I said I'd gotten it from smartusa riverside for $11,500, plus a/c and a 100,000 warranty for an additional $2200.

    No, automobile magazine. You guys have clearly blown it on this one. You have absolutely, totally screwed up.

    Yeah? Well, I'm a 57 year old professional. I live out in the boonies but i can jump in my smart fortwo and make a morning meeting in Los Angeles, Sandiego, Las Vegas or Sacramento. For cheap. And write it off at 50.5 cents a mile. Right now, i feel that almost everyone in the world is stupid, including Joe Dematio, and i am the only one who really understands what is going on. And i feel really good about it.

    Again, the derision. I like the cars mentioned above. But we haven't seen anything yet. The smart fortwo has its place in the progression of economy vehicles. In the future we will see 100 mpg economy cars. I myself have an early Aptera phev on order. But right now the only thing that will keep the smart fortwo from blowing away the mini cooper, the Honda fit, the Toyota Yaris is limited production. With Mercedes backing the smart, anything is possible
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2008
  2. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    This is good stuff. Keep us informed on your Smart experience.

    Some of us find all caps hard to read. In the future, please consider another way to set off your responses. Still read the whole thing though, because your content is strong and you write well.

  3. pdk

    pdk Beacon of Sanity

    Good stuff, but I agree that it's hard to read. I recommend using QUOTE tags.
  4. Mike T

    Mike T smart car dummy

    Wow, I hadn't realized that Automobile Magazine was as backwards as that. They make the morons at Car and Driver looks like geniuses. Most motoring magazines are a total joke anyway.
  5. deezle

    deezle Well-Known Member

    Excellent responses, Ptero.
    I actually hadn't seen that article and am amazed at the level of ignorance expressed. When a magazine's staff don't bother to do their homework, and when the publication itself refuses to move with the times, it's entire credibility erodes.
    Wake-up Automobile! It's the 21st century!
  6. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Ptero:

    ___I edited only a portion of your first post to remove all the caps and who said what. Can you please edit it with the quote tags to make it easier to read and remove the cap’s lock.

    ___Thanks and Good Luck


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