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No plans for diesel version of Smart car in U.S.
4/16/2008, 4:15 p.m. EDT
By KEN THOMAS
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Smart USA has no plans to offer a diesel-powered version of its Fortwo micro car in the United States, the division's president said Wednesday.

Dave Schembri of Smart USA said the gasoline alternative has not been in its plans because strict regulations in the U.S. would make it difficult to sell a diesel car in all 50 states.

"We tried to get the right mix between performance and fuel economy and the diesel engine doesn't provide the kind of performance, I think, that would meet the expectations of the U.S. consumer," Schembri said at a luncheon of the Washington Automotive Press Association.

Smart is currently developing a gas-electric hybrid vehicle and testing electric vehicles in London that could be available in the fleet within the next three years, he said.

Smart, a division of Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz brand, began selling the 8-foot, 8-inch cars in the U.S. in January. The 1,800-pound car gets 33 miles per gallon in the city and 41 miles per gallon on the highway.
Full story at http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/news-52/1208377489281380.xml&storylist=newsmichigan
 

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Two words....

that sucks. :(

In one press release smart talks about their surprise at the number of reservations in non-metro areas in the midwest and southeast. In another press release they state they won't bring the diesel to the US because they can't sell it in all 50 states. Even if the diesel model only sold 3 - 7K units of the total mix, I would think it would be worth bringing it here. Diesel, especially biodiesel, is on an up trend. I would think smart USA would be 'smart' enough to want to be a part of it.

Since there is only one smart model in the US, I believe a diesel-powered fortwo would be one way to add a little more depth to the US product plan, especially if it happened to be the highest MPG vehicle in the country including hybrids. I was hoping to trade my gas fortwo for the diesel in 2010. Well, I'm off to e-mail smart USA and encourage as many as will to do the same.

smart USA: Open your mind ... to biodiesel. :)
 

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Yeah, sure. The car's not 8'8" long, either. It's 106.1" which is 8'10" long.

Besides, "no plans" in marketing speak means "stop spoiling our press releases, we'll announce it when we're ready."
 

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Tonight Is Still A "School Night"

refernatt and knutlintt need to do their homework, a whole lot of homework. They have to learn that both of the two potentially US compliant emissions technologies (aqueous urea injection or “dry capture”) are well beyond the capability of a smart to physically carry or be dealer-serviced or are cost-effective. “They” are not holding anything up their sleeves.

For refernatt: The most possible technology but yet to be evaluated, is dry capture, which is already known to accommodate only 5% biodiesel.

For knutlintt: Vehicle dimensions have nothing to do with the subject?
 

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I would almost bet there is a 1 liter turbo diesel in smarts future. The current diesel is outdated, too expensive to make and update. It is the last of the old smart engines and is due for replacement with a true world engine.
 

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Diesel Smart

I don't claim to be an expert, but I am somewhat familiar with the issues surrounding cleaning up diesel emissions for CARB compliance here in the US. Yes, a 50-state legal diesel would require BlueTec (or or some other urea injection scheme) or something like Honda's plasma based technology that they've promised (which may be a better solution for small vehicles, if it works as advertised). Of course, particulate filters and other goodies are still necessary and none of this was even possible until the US switched to LSD fuel. And, yes, various manufacturer's stipulate the amount of biodiesel that can be 'safely' handled by their engines, but it's usually more than what is claimed/recommended (ala 91 vs 87 octane).

BUT... the point of my original post was that smart chieftans like Schembri and Penske have stated their surprise at the "strong demand" in non-metro, non-CARB areas like Kansas, etc. Limiting sales of an unmodified Euro-spec diesel smart to non-CARB states certainly reduces the sales potential of a diesel, but the 'feather in the cap' status of having the highest fuel mileage vehicle available in 45/50 states would be worth some good press. I'm betting they would still sell enough units to make it worth the hassle of bringing a few across the pond (some additional tech training at some dealerships, an extra model in the logistics mix, etc.).

In all seriousness, please correct me if I've missed something and an unmodified Euro diesel would not pass US emissions for non-CARB states. I'm always up for learning something new!

Any way you slice it, choice is a good thing! While we're shopping through the Euro parts bin, let's throw in a nice Brabus turbo while we're at it. :)
 

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Just in case any or the smart "brass" reads these posts here is another opinion:

When I tell people that this gets low 40 mpg gallon I can read on their faces a "so what, no big deal, why did you buy this covered golf cart," kind of look. I gave up a 51 mpg Jetta for this, true an '03, for this, not because I need the economy, but because it is short. I read about the German VW's getting 74 and think how great that would be here. I would take a huge loss on this smart to trade or get my hands on a new smart diesel and if that means signing a affidavit that I will never drive it in CA or MA - give me the pen. A significant marketing advantage is laying on the table. I know the new regs, and they are spreading, but for now - give me diesel or give me bio.....
 

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The current and past CDI diesels are Euro4 compliant, OK in Europe for the time being, but do not meet any current US EPA standard. That is why all the CDIs lurking just over the Canadian border have to stay there. Not only can you not buy one of them here, you cannot import and register one. G&K never got permission to convert them either.

In 2009 the EU goes to Euro5, which may be US 42-state compliant for that year only, until the EPA tightens our standards again in 2010 and they become non-compliant. If you look at all the non-restrictive states it looks like a lot of territory but it is a pretty thin market after you remove two of the three biggest markets, CA, FL and the Northeast. I'm sure that smartUSA doesn't see any business sense in that.

Right now, NOx dry capture is an iffy thing and I don't know how it will play out after 2010. VW is planning to give it a shot with the Jetta TDI, although its NOx system has already run into durability problems. That may only be a limited market exposure technique to get people thinking of the larger diesels coming, which will be 50-state compliant, aqueous urea injected (BlueTec/AdBlue).

BlueTec/AdBlue involves a lot of equipment (urea tank, NOx cat, particulate filter, CO/CO2 cat, plus the normal muffler). A smart fortwo isn't going to be able to pack all that stuff in lest it become a forfour - ormore. But beyond that, the EPA has determined that the refilling of the urea tank will be a dealer service item not an owner item, even to the extent that a vehicle may be disabled if the tank runs dry and is not refilled. While VW dealers (and M-B dealers for their own BlueTecs) are pretty common that isn't the case for smart dealers, even M-B/smart facilities. This is all good for large diesels but for us, really impractical!

There are now better things that smartUSA can think about; 'lectric stuff, fuel cells, and maybe even a variant of the experimental M-B DiesOtto (a low emission amalgam of compression ignition (diesel) and spark ignition (gasser)).
 

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Well, I own two VW diesels...had the 300d MB..and I have the smart pure...does anyone think the price of fuel on a trend basis is going to go down...How long do you think a vibrant economy will survive with these food prices ...people will need alternatives and having a air standard is important..but it makes no sense to allow a huge suv and not a high mileage diesel..it won't be science but it will be politics...that deciedes..one major supply interuption will change the way we operate...you see it as you travel the country...the size and complexity of our infratructure requires huge amounts of fuel..I for one am tired of making our the 'enemies' of our values wealthy beyond belief..
 

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I believe money would be more wisely invested in the new solar technologies for electro motive power, ie. flexible sheet solar panels and "night time gathering" panels that capture in low light conditions ,diesels still keep us dependent on fossil fuels
 

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I agree

I believe money would be more wisely invested in the new solar technologies for electro motive power, ie. flexible sheet solar panels and "night time gathering" panels that capture in low light conditions ,diesels still keep us dependent on fossil fuels
I certainly agree...but to transition 360 million will take time...and I would stretch what we have over the next 10 to 20 years..
Just returned from florida and for the life of me..I can't understand how little solar seems to be used there...I know that it is a very tall order to make the changes..it will take time...I just fear for the social consequences of fuel and food prices..it will deeply effect us all...even those of us who can well afford it...
 

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The current and past CDI diesels are Euro4 compliant, OK in Europe for the time being, but do not meet any current US EPA standard. That is why all the CDIs lurking just over the Canadian border have to stay there. Not only can you not buy one of them here, you cannot import and register one. G&K never got permission to convert them either.

... maybe even a variant of the experimental M-B DiesOtto (a low emission amalgam of compression ignition (diesel) and spark ignition (gasser)).

Thanks for the diesel update. Apparently Honda thinks they've cracked the diesel emissions puzzle with their non-urea solution and have stated plans to have a small 50-state diesel in 2009/2010, so it should be interesting over the next few years - and I would never underestimate Honda. Subaru is also talking about their new diesel for the US, but I'm not sure about their diesel emissions plan.

I've read about the DiesOtto engine, it certainly looks like a winner if they can keep the cost reasonable and reliability/durability is up to snuff with conventional products.
 

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The Honda thing (i-DTEC) is basically the same principle as Toyota's D-CAT and VW's BlueTec (in name only; it isn't BlueTec/AdBlue) - all of them a dry capture "NOx trap." So far, both Toyota and VW have had problems with the longevity of the NOx trap, and they ain't cheap. And in all cases, the NOx trap must be located some distance from the engine in a cool(er) environment to be effective.

I really see DiesOtto as the place to put the money. Runs on just plain regular gas from the corner 7-Eleven; no costly diesel fuel or EPA diesel regulation hassles. That's what the troops ought to be squalling to smartUSA/M-B about.
 

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The Honda thing (i-DTEC) is basically the same principle as Toyota's D-CAT and VW's BlueTec

It looks like it is more than what they've rolled out in Europe, but yes, the end result is absorption of NOx. Perhaps the 'plasma reactor' component makes the process more feasible and durable? Who knows until it is available. Of course, as the following link points out, it takes electricity to run the reactor which reduces fuel mileage.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000101&refer=japan&sid=a8g8MAJwxTGo
 

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refernatt and knutlintt need to do their homework, a whole lot of homework. They have to learn that both of the two potentially US compliant emissions technologies (aqueous urea injection or “dry capture”) are well beyond the capability of a smart to physically carry or be dealer-serviced or are cost-effective. “They” are not holding anything up their sleeves.

For refernatt: The most possible technology but yet to be evaluated, is dry capture, which is already known to accommodate only 5% biodiesel.

For knutlintt: Vehicle dimensions have nothing to do with the subject?
I've done all the homework I need to do, thank you very much. I'm aware of the alleged problems with Bluetec and the smart car. I'm also aware that those alleged problems are most likely an excuse because they don't want to talk about it. Well beyond the capability of the smart to physically carry? Baloney. There's plenty of room if they want to use it. Beyond the capability to be dealer serviced? Hogwash. Train the dealer, it's a simple system to refill. Not cost effective? Bingo... there's your first accurate statement.

It's not about fitting it into the car, or figuring out how to service it at the dealership. It's about cost and whether or not the bean counters and marketers believe that they can convince potential buyers to pay for it. Adding the Bluetec system to a $15,000 car would be a major price increase right now, and they don't believe that enough people would buy it to make it a worthwhile option.

It's that simple. It's not because they can't do it, it's because they don't believe that doing it would be profitable. And as much as I'd like to have a smart CDi Bluetec, they're probably right.

My reference to the article's error about the dimensions of the vehicle was apparently too subtle for you, Old smart. If they can't even get the vehicle's dimensions right - which are a mouse click away on smart's web site - why should we believe that the rest of the article is any more accurate?
 

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Smart USA may have plans for a dielsel. I received this from them in email.

smart USA does have plans to bring the smart fortwo diesel model to US, though details have yet to be finalized. As more information becomes available it will be posted on our website www.smartusa.com. If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact us via email or by phone at 1.800.smartUSA. Thank you for your interest in smart USA. You will be hearing from us soon! Jamie Thompson Customer Service 1.800.smartUSA www.smartusa.com
 

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At this point I think they could bring over a steam engine and people would want to buy it. Smart is sitting on plenty of demand and not enough supply. Their biggest problem is not which engine to offer next. It's how to make more cars with any engine.
 
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