Smartest Car; Still Worse Than The Dumbest Bike

Pink Car

The process of buying and making new cars isn’t the solution to this enormous fossil fuel problem we’re having. Hackneyed as it might seem, we need to develop long term sustainable community transportation, AND to rethink the way that we structure our lives around cars.

Buying a smart car is kind of like putting a band aid on a giant gash- technically, at a minuscule level, it’s helping- but if your concern stops at your purchase, you’re still going bleed to death… and worse, you may begin to confuse consumerism with activism. Often, trying to change the world by buying things isn’t really creating the change that companies convince us it is.

However, having said all that…

I was getting a ride to work from a co-worker and pointed out Smart Car exclaiming how much I wanted one, he responded with a rant about how the Smart Car is worse for the environment than a Hummer. His basic reasoning was that a brand new factory had to be built in order to make the Smart Car.

To be completely honest I don’t have the numbers to prove it, but it seems fairly logical that a new factory would be off set rather quickly by people driving the cars, and taking their other cars off the road (which would have been replaced eventually anyway). I’ve looked all over for some numbers so I could do a full 25 year break down of it, but I can’t find them.

The Smart car only costs $12 000, not being expensive is more incentive to get one and it gets up to 68 mpg. Also, insurance can be less due to green discounts. Check out the the Hartford car insurance quotes for more information on this. And it is most definitely helping the atmospheric environment.

You could argue that the factory is hypocritical because one had to be built for the Smart Car however, they are the most energy efficient factories ever built (by the standards of the EPA). The fact is that an international standard called the ISO 14001 aims to ensure that everything has a little impact on the environment as possible. The company was awarded the Environmental Certificate ISO 14001 for all of the measures they implemented with the factory. It was built on 30 hectares of industrial waste land.

The land now contains the factory, accompanied by nature reserves with some of the most rare species of plant and animals. All of the materials used were checked against a list of potentially harmful materials and thus none contain formaldehyde or CFCs.

All of the facades are made out of a material that comes from a specific European tree that recovers quickly. The building is designed to catch rain water that can be used in the factory, any that isn’t caught by the actual building is drained into oil separation plants, treated and used. The water is treated to the point that it is up to European Drinking standards and is used for the gardens and coolant.

To save energy there are heat recovery systems located all over the building. The heat generated by the actual machines is recycled and “recovered” all through the building. All of the machines burn natural gas rather than the conventional fuels, the heat recovery system also helps to make the machines more energy efficient.

The car its self is painted using powder coating which is completely solvent free. The coat is actually thinner than the conventional ways of painting a car but it is also a higher quality of finish. The lack of solvent eliminates the fear of hazardous waste.

So yeah, they had to make a new factory. But they made one hell of a factory that produces cars that have such a low impact on the environment. The Hummer factories don’t take these environmental precautions, and the Hummer spews out disgusting amounts of emissions, and there is more material used to make them. The environmental degradation that happened because of the construction of an incredibly environmentally friendly factory isn’t even close to the degradation that would be caused by us a) never having fuel efficient cars and b) all driving Hummers. Therefore – I want a Smart Car.

And for those of you who say “it’s so small you wouldn’t be able to do anything, or fit anything in it…. watch this.

But again, it may be the most environmentally friendly factory I’ve ever heard of, and it may be a really great car, but it concerns me that all too often people are confusing consumerism with activism. There is a whole new line of “environmental” products out there, just to grab onto this new economic opportunity that has opened up – I encourage everyone to think critically about all their purchases, and still consider if it is worth the money that you’re putting into it, and to still dedicate time and money to activism, not just consumerism.

About Katie Kish

8 Comments

  1. David Walker says:

    Get a Toyota Prius. I get a luxury car that does 67 miles to the gallon.

  2. This is what I like the most about the Smart Car. It’s not just really fuel-efficient, it’s actually a better, greener car from the factory to the components to the paint job. It’s looking at all of these aspects of production (and on the consumption side too) that will get us away from old thinking and ways of doing business into a sustainable world.

  3. Hello Starre Vartan, Any relation to Sylvie Vartin, by any chance. Maybe? Shows my age. I used to live in France. From Boston. Now in Taiwan, Asia since 1991. I read your Huffington blog about Andrew Revkin blog and that is how i am here. Wonder if one day you might want to write about a person who is tilting at windmills with a method to his madness, re polar cities for the year 2500 for survivors of global warming. I know sounds strange. Email me. I want to chat. Maybe you will understand what I am doing with this polar cities idea. google the term, or see my blog above. email me at danbloom Gmail……..thanks cheers and happy 12,008………yeh, no way it’s 2008….. danny

  4. Why don’t you buy a USED car instead of a new one? Buying used ensures resources that have already been consumed are recycled, and maximizes the long-tail of durable goods like a car. Instead of putting (“creating”) yet another polluting vehicle on the road, help offset someone else’s ecological costs. Doesn’t matter if its a Prius, SMARTCar, or a Hummer, it will always be less environmentally impactful (not to mention more financially advantageous) to buy used rather than new. Don’t kid yourself – you’re no eco-hero driving a used Hummer, but overall the net impact is substantially less driving used Hummer than a new Prius.

  5. Greg, I totally agree. I’ve always bought good-quality used cars and can’t really imagine ever buying a new one, just based on the economic reasons alone! BUT if you think about it, someone has to buy new cars sometime…..so that we can buy them from them used eventually!

  6. I’m wondering where you’re coming up with this “up to 68mpg” claim…all the reports I’ve seen say 33mpg city, 41mpg highway.

    If it got better gas mileage than that, or was cheaper than $12k, I’d be interested. As it stands now, I don’t see anything special. I can get a new stripped down Kia close to that, or a 2007 Saturn Ion, which gets 26mpg city / 31 highway.

  7. Seth Levy says:

    I can get 53.5 mpg in my smart if I stay around 55, but I get 46 on average with my current driving habits.

  8. Love the title really and who says we need smart cars? Still love my old dumb bike, it’s my source of getting rid of fats and stress well not unless they’re giving away these cars for a lower than $12K..

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