Marita Noon

With gas prices climbing, so is the popularity of fuel-efficient cars. AltTransport.com, a site “dedicated to giving you the latest news and the smartest analysis of the shift towards smarter and more efficient modes of transportation,” reports that “with gas prices rising, car manufacturers are starting to see some of their most fuel-efficient cars fly off the shelves.” A call to the Smart Car Center in my area reveals that their sales are currently about double the usual; seven sales by mid-month rather than the usual three to five. 

While the Smart Car may get good gas mileage and fit into tight parking places, how “smart” is it really? The April 2012 issue of Consumer Reports is now out and features the best and worst cars of 2012. The Smart Car didn’t make the list, nor did it receive a “recommended” rating in the “Hatchback: fuel-efficient class”—where its overall road test rating is 28 of a possible 100.

The April issue’s “Safety” section states: “Even a small car with a good crash-test rating will bear the brunt of a crash with a larger sedan, SUV or pick up.” The issue also states that “motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people 5-34 years old and that they amount to more than $99 billion a year in medical and lost-work costs because of injuries.” Crash tests show the Smart Car is “jarringly stupid.” Video from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that in a crash with a mid-size Mercedes C-Class sedan, “the Smart ForTwo is not only pulverized, with the passenger compartment getting squashed, but it goes airborne like a beach ball.” Just how “smart” is that? Is gas mileage more important that safety? I’d call it “stupid.”

Like burgundy is 2012’s “new black” for fall—serving as a “new neutral hue” that “will soon become the new backbone of your fall wardrobe”—and sixty is the new forty because “people are living longer today, they're healthier, and they're enjoying life more,” “smart” is the new “stupid.”

Labeling something “smart” has the automatic implication that it is right and better—when in fact, like the Smart Car, it may be “stupid” (or, at least, have foolish elements).


Marita Noon

Marita Noon is Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.
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