Edmunds' GreenCarAdvisor.com Tests Smart Electric Vehicle, Evaluates Prospects for Smart Car Success
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — June 10, 2010 — Edmunds' GreenCarAdvisor.com Senior Editor John O'Dell was among a select group of reporters invited to test drive the new Smart Electric Vehicle in Brooklyn, NY.
O'Dell found that the car is peppy, comfortable and has all the creature comforts someone would want in a daily commuter car, as long as the driver can accept a top speed of 65 miles per hour and a maximum range at city traffic speeds of about 70 miles, diminishing rapidly as average speed increases .
"The Smart EV would seem to be a logical extension of the gasoline Smart car for urbanites who are serious about cutting their oil habits and carbon footprints and/or are desperate for a car they can squeeze through crowded streets and into tight parking spaces," reported O'Dell. "It will remain to be seen, though, whether the market for a Smart EV — which we suspect will be sold in limited numbers and select regions - proves to be any deeper than for the gasoline Smart."
Cross-shopping trends captured by Edmunds.com indicate that only about 11 percent of consumers looking at the Mini also consider Smart, seven percent looking at the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Cube or VW New Beetle also looked at Smart, and just five percent of Honda Fit shoppers put a Smart on their list.
Smart cars currently sell for about 15 percent below sticker price, thanks in part to more than $2,000 in incentives available to buyers, but so far the discounts have not been compelling enough to increase its sluggish sales (with less than 1,000 units sold per month since September 2009).
"With a base MSRP of $11,900 and an average transaction price - after options - of about $15,600, the gasoline Smart is almost as costly as four- and five-seat subcompacts, and is just not seen as a great value," stated Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "It does best when gas prices are high and consumers are drawn to the most obviously fuel-efficient choices."
Edmunds.com analysts have determined that less than one percent of consumers shopping seriously for new cars on Edmunds.com currently consider a Smart. The highest Smart consideration has ever been among Edmunds users was 4.7 percent in May 2008 — when gas prices started rising toward that summer's record.
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Edmunds.com Inc. publishes four Web sites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.edmunds.com, makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and otherwise on the go. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.insideline.com, features the wireless Web's highest quality car photos and videos. CarSpace is the most established automotive social networking Web site. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds.com Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.