I saw a television ad last night, while watching Jack Bauer save the world, about a new diesel smart car being offered that gets an estimated 85.6 mpg combined city/highway driving. That’s incredible! You can check the details on smart’s UK site for this vehicle that has begun shipping this month (March 2009).
Strange thing, though. The manufacturer’s site for a similar modelâ€”gasoline, not dieselâ€”in the United States only boasts 33 mpg (city)/41 mpg (highway): an economical car, but nothing to jump up and down over. At $13,905 USD for the entry level coupe, it’s also relatively inexpensive, but not enough to tempt most Americans into its tiny (but extremely safe) cabin. One can purchase a Toyota Yaris for $12,205 that gets an impressive 29/36 mpg or a Honda Civic Coupe for $15,305 with a fuel economy of 25/36 mpg.
The TV spot for the UK smart car can be viewed HERE: just click on “Fuel Economy” after the brief intro clip. It shows the driver at the petrol pump on a snowy winter day, then fast-forwards at high speedâ€”the impression of hundreds of cars filling their tanksâ€”until Spring when the smart car appears once again at the pumps. Clever!
The million dollar question is: Why does the American version, even though it’s not the more fuel-efficient diesel engine, get such pitiful gas mileage compared to the UK version? Unless I’m missing something, it’s a puzzler considering the overall fuel efficiency of most British cars versus their American counterparts, manufactured by the same automakers. Do I smell a rat? I mean, really, what’s going on here?