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Discussion Starter #1
It occurred to me that unlike the TDI, which cannot be registered in this country, there is no reason why anyone couldn't bring the mhd version of the smart fortwo into this country on his/her own, register it, and drive it legally. The fact that it has stop/start technology doesn't affect emissions or safety features, so it should qualify for registration here.

So, has anyone here imported one on their own or does anyone know someone who has? If so, I'd love to know how it was done and what their experience with the mhd has been.

Thanks in advance.

Bill
 

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Probably. But my question is why? With so many smart cars here with such great deals to be had, why bother spending all the importing costs and shipping? The mhd isn't going to gain that much more mpg's if more than one or two...
 

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According to Dave Schembri, the mpg gain wasn't enough to justify getting a second drivetrain certified. The mhd cars may appear to be exactly the same as the non-mhd cars but they are not (not to mention other non-USA/Canada items that would have to be changed.) :)
 

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Windy city smart car use to, in Palestine Il. I bet their long gone. I can't remember what models.
 

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The mhd is dismal - belt breakage due to a design flaw is common and when the belt breaks, the engine fries. Thank smart USA for NOT importing it.
 

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There have been several passions imported to the USA that have had MHD badges (my dealership has gotten 3)
BUT they were mis-badged at the factory and were just plain US spec passions underneath.

I would guess that some euro dealers have had the opposite issue, an actual MHD that was not badged?

If you think about it, one factory turning out cars for 50+ different countries, there's going to be some mistakes along the way?
 

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Even for US-spec and Euro-spec cars that are outwardly IDENTICAL with the exception of the compliance label, that non-identical compliance label means the government authorities will say NO. Not allowed. It makes no difference whether the actual technical equipment in the vehicle is actually in compliance or not. The US-spec compliance labels are not there and that's what the government goes by, and if it's not there, you're not allowed to "convert" the vehicle to US-spec yourself, it can only be done by the vehicle's original manufacturer or by a registered importer - and the registered importer process will be expensive. If it is a first-of-type vehicle (likely would be - can't see why anyone else would have bothered) then you need to bring several vehicles in (and pay for them) for crash testing (and pay for the crash testing).

And ... those outwardly-identical vehicles won't be identical. In the case of the smart, at a minimum, it would have the Euro-spec taillights with the separate amber turn signals. Those signals won't have US-required compliance markings because they were never sold there. And remember, you're not allowed to convert them yourself, no matter how simple it might appear!

Headlights, reflectors, seat belts, air bag (a) existence and (b) calibration, side-impact crash structures in the doors, window glass, and emission control equipment are other things that are very commonly different between US-spec and UN-ECE-spec versions of the "same" vehicle. And, of course, that all-important compliance label, without which you are screwed.
 

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P.S. It's a whole lot easier to take an already-compliant US-spec vehicle shell with its VIN and compliance label, and take out the powertrain and put in something else.

Although, as noted, the mhd powertrain had some rather major flaws and is not worth fooling around with, for what tiny real-world fuel consumption improvement that you might (or might not) see. From what I've heard, even if you managed to do it, it would probably blow up before you ever recover the investment. Not worthwhile.
 

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GoFaster has given an excellent description of the USA protectionism regarding automobiles. The US specifications are not better than the European specifications; they are just different and that difference is maintained on purpose by the US automobile lobbies. There really is no need for it. We border hoppers can drive our European smarts, or any other cars, in the USA without any problem. We can do so for up to a year, so long as we do not try to register them, or reside full time in the USA. Nobody notices any difference and nobody has ever chastized me for not having that written warning on the passenger side rear view mirror.
Now you know why there are so many more automotive choices in other countries. We are free to buy them all. I often point to VW as an example. Compare their US website with the Mexican website (.com.mx suffix) and you will probably be surprised. Yes, trucks, diesels and car models you have never heard of. Lots more choices, especially in economy cars.
 

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Don't get me started on vehicle protectionism. The US complains that Japan is protectionist - even though Japan doesn't have a problem with registering a US-spec vehicle, but good luck with going the other direction. The US motor vehicle standards (and Canada mostly copies them) are a de-facto trade barrier, given that EVERY other country in the world has standards that are either UN-ECE or differ only insignificantly from UN-ECE.

But even Canadian standards are not identical to US standards. Metric instruments, for one. The US wants tire pressure monitoring systems; we don't require them. Canada wants an ignition immobilizer; the US doesn't care.

It's absurd. The same standard should be applied worldwide. There's no logical reason why it should be different. But the "not invented here" syndrome is deeply ingrained in US government institutions. Not having red reflectors on the tail lamps (US requirement, not UN-ECE)? Not good enough. Headlight pattern meets the relatively modern European standard but doesn't meet NHTSA's outmoded standard? No! (Audi can't bring in their automatic pattern-recognizing high beam selective dimming system because of this.) Parking brake indicator on the instrument panel is the international symbol for brake (language of the driver doesn't matter) and does not use the English word "BRAKE"? Not compliant!
 

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In the USA, one often hears the term, It is a free country, isnt it? Unfortunately, it is not.
Since we became legal permanent residents in Mexico, we must remove our Japanese Nissan Pathfinder from the country and return it to the USA, where, as you said, it is just fine. Here, it is not permanently importable because it was not manufactured in a NAFTA country. Yet, the same vehicle is built in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Ironically, I can drive my Jalisco plated smart car, even though it was not made in a NAFTA country, but in France and with a German VIN. Strange? No, because I am an individual and not an automobile importer/distributor with political clout. Not so free here, either. bit in many ways much more so than in the U$A. I will not start on the US medical system; the most expensive in the world, and certainly not the best. That is another topic; even more ugly.
 

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Canada accepts some European standards on passive safety (we never had the mouse-up-the-pillar electric seatbelts, for example) and also accepts European code headlamps. Some manufacturers take advantage of that, and Canada gets better, driver-adjustable headlights, for example, with a decent low beam cutoff, and active headlights.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Probably. But my question is why? With so many smart cars here with such great deals to be had, why bother spending all the importing costs and shipping? The mhd isn't going to gain that much more mpg's if more than one or two...
Reportedly, the mhd improves mpg by 8%. That's $80 for every $1000 you spend on gas.

But more important the savings is all obtained in city driving. Obviously. It reportedly improves city mpg by about 20%. So the 8% overall improvement varies depending on your driving habits. If you live in the country and never see a stop light, it's unnecessary added technology. OTOH, if you use your fortwo exclusively as a city car, that$80 savings per $1000 becomes $200, which is quite a significant savings.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
According to Dave Schembri, the mpg gain wasn't enough to justify getting a second drivetrain certified. The mhd cars may appear to be exactly the same as the non-mhd cars but they are not (not to mention other non-USA/Canada items that would have to be changed.) :)
I'm not believing Dave on this one. Mitsubishi was more forthright when it explained why it didn't include the stop-start technology on its new Mirage, which features a similar 3 cylinder engine, also designed to be able to include mhd. Mitsubishi explained that the EPA testing procedures include only one stop during their city driving test cycle. As a result, the mhd shows an improvement of only 0.1 or 0.2 mpg on the EPA ratings.

Due to the EPA results, it's a marketing issue, not a performance issue. The mhd is standard on every smart fortwo sold in Europe. If Dave was correct and the economics truly didn't make sense, they wouldn't make sense in Europe either.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The mhd is dismal - belt breakage due to a design flaw is common and when the belt breaks, the engine fries. Thank smart USA for NOT importing it.
If we gave up on every new technology because it had some bugs to be worked out, we'd never make any progress. But I'm not buying this rumor because mhd is standard on all fortwos in Europe. If the rumor were true, they wouldn't be able to sell a single mhd smart inEurope. If there ever was a problem, I'm sure the bugs have been worked out because Mitsubishi, manufacturer of the engine, is selling its new Mirage with exactly the same stop-start technology included as a standard feature on all European models.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Improving the aerodynamics of a US spec car would likely provide better results.
Nope. The mhd actually saves fuel. Idle loss is a known factor in automobile fuel efficiency. Hybrid cars already have stop-start technology routinely incorporated in all their designs.

Beginning next year, according to my dealer, all Mercedes C-class cars sold in the USA will include stop-start technology. Mercedes would not be including this feature if it didn't make a difference. Knowing this, the dealer guessed that smart may well include mhd as part of the 2015 re-design since it's parent company, Mercedes will already be doing the same thing.
 

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It saves fuel if you drive stop-and-go, but an electric would be far better in such usage anyway.

The mhd has a well-known design flaw as I noted above, so you can practically count on catastrophic belt failure in any used one. Besides, you would never get it into the country. The basic engine is different inside - the CR on the European version is 1 point higher and as a result, higher NOx emissions would not meet US standards.
 
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