It was once thought that a sub-compact car, or "micro cars" could never be successful in the United States. The phenomenal success of the Mini Cooper shattered that perception and now ZAP, based in Santa Rosa California, is offering their "Smart Car" to the United States. ZAP is already doing a brisk business in Europe, but will Americans go for a two seat car that looks like a golf cart?
Smart Crossblade, a limted edition of the Smart "fortwo coupe"
The European car market is obviously very different from the one in the United States. Gasoline, while growing increasingly more expensive, is still relatively cheap in the USA. Prices in many European countries are at least twice as much per gallon and in some cases, like in Norway, are almost triple. In addition, space is at a premium in Europe and as a result parking is extremely expensive. The Smart Car has been certified by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency for 40 miles per gallon. Its small size means it can squeeze into empty spaces that bigger cars cannot use.
A school teacher in Wellington Florida took delivery of the first car. ZAP is selling the cars for around $25,000 and is also planning on shipping their all-electric XEBRA car later this year. Zap's Smarts are based on the Smart "fortwo coupe," which is available for around $12,000 in Europe.