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During the late 1980s, Nicolas Hayek, the chief executive officer of SMH, who are the manufacturers of the Swatch brand watches, started to develop an idea for a new automobile that would the same kind of strategies of manufacturing as well as personalized features that whose utilization was in the marketing of Swatch watches. Hayek believed that the industry of automobiles had looked down upon a sector that had potential consumers who desired a stylish and small car. Soon, this idea was given a name called ‘Swatchmobile.’ Hayek Engineering Company AG, the private company of Hayek started the designing of the new automobile for the SMH, with a sitting capacity of two as well as a hybrid drive train (Sheffrin 18). Whereas the design of the car was in progress, Hayek had the fear of the present manufacturing that they would feel threatened by the newly introduced car. Therefore, instead of competing directly, he decided to cooperate with another popular company in the industry of automobiles. This would also greatly relieve the SMH Company of the cost burden of the setting up of a network of distribution. Hayek made approaches to a number of companies that dealt in the industry of manufacturing of automobiles. In July, 1991, he was able to reach an agreement with the Volkswagen Company to share the design and development of the prospective project.
By the year 1993, Ferdinand Piech was the appointed chief executive officer of the Volkswagen Company, and he right away sought to bring the project with SMH to an end. By then, the Volkswagen company had been working on a project of their own called the ‘three-liter car;’ that is a car which was going to consume about three liters of fuel in every one hundred kilometers of driving (eventually known as the Volkswagen Lupo 3l). The concept of Volkswagen was considered as the best business proposition, as it features four seats and also allowed more room for cargo. Hayek had supposed that Piech would make sure that the accord with SMH was brought to an end, upon his ascendancy to the position of chief executive officer; he, therefore, prudently started to approach some other car manufacturing companies with the project of Swatchmobile. Rejected by Renault, Fiat, BMW and General Motors, he eventually arrived at an informal agreement with the Daimler-Benz AG, the manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz cars.
The announcement of the deal took place in March, 1994, at a press conference that took place at the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart that the two companies would collaborate in the founding of Micro Compact AG. The provision of forty nine percent of the initial capital of fifty million Swiss Francs was made by the SMH, and for the rest, which was fifty one percent, Daimler-Benz made the provision for the same. The composition of the newly established company entailed two subsidiaries i.e. the MCC GmbH, which had its base in Renningen, and which would do the designing, and then an unnamed manufacturing factory (Sheffrin 18). The SMH Auto SA that was under the ownership of Hayek would do the designing of a system of hybrid electric drive for the car, whereas the Hayek Engineering Company would do the auditing of the design and manufacturing. A subsequent press conference featured the launching of two cars namely the ‘eco-speedster’ and the ‘eco-sprinter, which whose styling was by the design studio of Mercedes-Benz in California. The two cars suggestive were of the ultimate Smart City Coupe. There was no mention concerning the fact that the SMH had not contributed in any way in the design of the car, and they were branded as Mercedes-Benz.
The technological advancement has greatly influenced humanity in the different aspects of life that controls nearly all man’s acts. With the prices of gas at all-time highs in the United States of America and the fuel-efficient vehicles in fashion, the time came for the Smart Car to be introduced the United States markets by DaimlerChrysler. The Smart Car, already common in Europe, is small in size but big on the economy. However, the updated Smart Fortwo; a name that was given to it due to the fact that it only carries two individuals, and its release was in the year 2008, meaning that there are a lot more Smart cars coming in the near future.
The Smart Car started with Nicolas Hayek, the person who did the invention of the Swatch watches. Hayek was intending to make a small car that would consume fuel efficiently, environmentally responsible as well as easy to get a parking space even in tiny places. The Swatch Company did a collaboration with Daimler-Benz (after it had failed in collaborating with the Volkswagen) to make the first City Coupe under the brand name MCC (Micro Compact Car). The development started in the year 1994, and the first car to be unveiled was at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the year 1997. The Micro Compact Car was on sale during the next year, but Hayek became disappointed with the usage of a traditional engine; he had wanted a pure electric motor or a hybrid- and the cost of the car, which seemed hire than ever expected. When it emerged that the initial sales were slow, Swatch decided to pull out of the business, which left Daimler-Benz (that later became DaimlerChrysler) to be in full ownership of the Smart division. Smart is at present part of the Mercedes group of the DaimlerChrysler.
When one lays his or her eyes on the Smart car, the first thing that will always come to mind is its noticeable size. The City Coup, which was later known as "Fortwo" immediately the Smart started to release some other models, is only eight feet, two and a half inches long, less than five feet wide and about five feet tall. When compared to the original Hummer H1, we find that it is seven feet less wide. That implies that instead of a parallel parking in line with the other vehicles, the Smart car can be able to back right up to the curb. Around two or three of the cars, can be able to park in that manner in just a single curbside parking space.
In January 2008, we find that the United States became the thirty seventh nation to promote and sell the Smart Car. The fortwo car actually got off to a perfect start in the United States back in the year 2008, with more than thirty thousand reservations made before its arrival, and more than twenty five thousand delivered by the end of the year 2008. It was unfortunate that the recession hit the company during the late 2008, and that greatly reduced the actual sales of the cars substantially. In fact, many people had to turn down the cars that they originally reserved, when they eventually arrived in March of the year 2009, after a long wait. Just like most Americans, the economy had had a great effect on several people around the world, and it would no longer be easy to afford or even maintain a new car, no matter how conservative it would be. Since several smart car fanatics had to turn down their orders when they eventually arrived, the dealers of smart cars had surpluses on their cars’ hands that one time had such a long waiting list.
The company has also faced some controversies that to some extent have had an impact on its overall performance. One of the major controversies at the company was the brand of the car itself. The founder, Hayek insisted that the car had to retain the name ‘Swatch’ in some way; that is for instance, Swatch Car or Swatchmobile. However, Daimler-Benz did not consent to the idea, and instead, advocated for a more neutral brand. They then ultimately agreed on the name ‘Smart,’ which is an acronym that had been initially used internally by the MCC for the Swatch Mercedes Art. Nevertheless, by May of the year 1994, the co-directors had made the identification of seventy four potential sites for the establishment of the factory. The announcement of the eventual site was done in December, 1994; France, in Hambach. The plant gained the nickname called ‘Smartville’ very quickly due to fast growth.
A modular system of the car’s assembly was designed by Tomforde, insisting supplier assemble and design, and even fix their own modules onto the eventual car, at the new factory using their own workers, hence decreasing the total cost for the mother companies and depriving the MCC of the legal and financial liabilities for the parts. In addition, it offered financial framework in which the MCC could be in a position of sharing the cost of development with suppliers, instead of having to finance the whole project themselves. The MCC managed to secure contracts with the suppliers to do the designing supplying nearly all parts of the vehicle; interiors by the VDO, seats by Faurecia, door and chassis modules by Magna, suspension by Krupp and door panels by the Dynamit (Farenc & Norris 54).
Despite the offloading of a considerable amount of the progress on suppliers, the MCC needed more capital. Moreover, recapitalization by the Daimler-Benz helped in increasing their ownership share in the company to about eighty one percent leaving the SMH only with the remaining nineteen percent. The company of assembly opened in October 27, 1997, whereby it had a formal ribbon-cutting by the then President of France, Jacques Chirac and Helmut Hohl, the German Chancellor. The introduction of the new Smart City Coupe had been planned for the month of March in the year 1998, but dynamic volatility of the archetypes forced Daimler-Benz to announce the postponement of the introduction until the month of October in the same year. The chief engineer, Johann Tomforde was replaced by Gerhard Fritz. Fritz then widened the track, lowered the center of gravity, changed the steering, stiffened the suspension, and added more ballast weight to the car’s front so as to raise the stability in the unexpected or emergency evasion manoeuvres (particularly the Swedish ‘moose test’).
The launch of the car was successful in about nine European nations in October, 1998, even though the eventual design never fulfilled the expectations of Hayek. Hayek had strongly advocated for a hybrid drivetrain; however, the eventual product used a fairly conventional gasoline engine. Almost immediately, Daimler-Benz acquired the remaining stake of SMH in the venture. This made the MCC to be a fully owned subsidiary of the Daimler-Benz (which afterward joined hands with the Chrysler Company to become known as DaimlerChrysler). The Biel office was closed, and the operations were then consolidated at Germany’s MCC GmbH design center. On the month of January, in the year 1999, we find that the MCC GmbH decided to change its brand name to MCC smart GmbH, and by the year 2000 it dropped the final remnants of cooperation with SMH, thus becoming known as the smart GmbH (Kaplan International College 46).
This model line was ultimately extended to incorporate the Roadster together with a four-drive, a rear engine, four door, and four seat supermini, appositely known as Forfour (the initial City Coupe was then rechristened ForTwo, in order to be able to fit the new branding scheme). The go-getting expansion did not raise profits at the corporation; smart GmbH indeed lost about four billion Euros between 2003 and 2006. Plans were put in place to raise the profitability of the company as well as incorporate its operations with the DaimlerChrysler. DaimlerChrysler, in 2005, decided against buying a fifty percent share in the company called NedCar in Netherlands, which used to make the ForFour, bringing to an end its operations. A planned SUV known as Formore was brought to an end as the assembly company in Brazil was under installations with machines, and the production of Roadster was terminated. In 2006, after heavy financial losses and declining sales, the Smart GmbH was liquidated with its operations being absorbed directly by the DaimlerChrysler.
Smart Crash Action
Those who have carefully followed the development of the trendy and tiny microcar of Daimler AG, the Smart, have really wondered about the safety of the car. They now do not need to wonder anymore. This is because a crash test took place for the Smart Fortwo in the year 2008 by the Insurance Institute for Highway, and found that its performance was excellent that it earned the best ratings of the Institute for the side and front crash protection. In addition, its rear crash worthiness received a rating of ‘acceptable,’ which is the second-highest rating of the Institute. The driving of Smart Fortow in the United States of America is a very good reminder of just the way the Smart really is. Just like the Volkswagen’s Mini Cooper and New Beetle, the Smart Car elicits looks. However, different from those cars, which reinvigorates a present vehicle segment via the nostalgia-laden styling; we find that the Smart is so small and also very new that, to the eyes of Americans at least, it is not like anything else on the road (Schneider 497).
The DaimlerChrysler AG had been carrying out testing with the prospect of a Smart car in the United States of America ever since the introduction of the brand in the year 1997. Today, when questioning executives to give an explanation regarding the long wait, they will say that the car was not ready until then. It is true that redesigning of the second generation of the Smart Fortwo was purposely to meet the requirements of the American market. This entailed introduction of diverse changes including ensuring that the new car met the emissions regulations in all fifty states, as well as the crash standards of the United States (Schneider 497). It is still difficult to see that DaimlerChrysler is taking advantage of an opportunity; that is more than ever, buyers in the United States are taking into consideration the environmental effect of their cars and looking for perceived smarter alternatives. Therefore, it is that having made sales of some seven hundred and seventy thousand copies of the first-generation Smart Fortwo in thirty six nations, the most compact car presently in production will take on the largest automobile market in the world.
So what is the actual size of the Smart? It is more than three feet shorter, and around five inches narrower than the abovementioned Mini; that is very small. However, with an additional five inches in height as well as an upright driving position, we find that the view of the driver of the road is more commanding or imposing than the size suggests. The car’s interior is also amazing. As the name suggests, the Smart is only a two-seater, though those two will find plenty of head and legroom. Whereas the cabin is a little bit narrow, the feet position of the passenger’s is 6 inches further back for the purposes of avoiding any unnecessary rubbing of shoulder. The space of cargo is limited to that behind the seats; this offer 7.8 cubic feet in luggage is stuck up to the beltline, or twelve cubic feet if one stack it to the roof (Schneider 497).
Contributing substantially to the sense of the interior space is the well-ventilated cabin. In a period of more complex switchgear and electronics, the dash layout of the Smart reinvigorated meaning to the word ‘spartan.’ Nonetheless, the instrument panel seems to be floating over the feet of the passengers, leaving the floor completely open except for the shift lever and some cupholders. The uncomplicated center-stack that contains the hi-fi and a stylish climate control system is easy to use and see, and the remaining dashboard is under the cover of the fabric, which feels tough and looks cool. The whole of this design is to create a sense of calm and ingenuousness; therefore, claustrophobics should not at all be worried. The Smart is in fact, certain that any potential purchasers that have concerns about their fitting into the vehicle only need to sit in to put their minds at ease, and that is a fact.
One possible hurdle not anticipated is the transmission. Whereas, it is technically a five-speed manual transmission, we find that the clutch is computerized, and shifting requires tapping the gear lever, then pushing one of the steering peddles that are wheel-mounted, or even letting the automated mode to do all the work. Such a setup greatly works in the ultra-high machines whereby the name of the game is lightning-fast shifts, even though the effect is less breathtaking when toned down for usage with a one liter, 3-cylinder seventy horsepower engine (Teweles & Edward 38). Nonetheless, an up-shift in either automatic or manual mode pitches the vehicle forward, as the power is cut-out there is change of gear and acceleration resumes after a long delay. The delay is probably much longer than what might be anticipated for a hand-performed manual shift, though the sensation is strange to some extent.
The design of this car is specifically for metropolitan use; the engineers of the Smart settled on the automated manual, in order to do away with the difficulty of having to work up a clutch in the stop-and-go traffic, whereas also evading the problem of a conventional automatic unit. The car’s system can be described as infallible: It does not allow over-revving, that is it resets to the first gear from a stop, and when the driver releases the brake pedals, it creeps slowly like a normal automatic mode (Teweles & Edward 38). The Smart even gets some tweak particularly for the United States market, which include the classic American PRND shift model; this is a shorter first gear ratio for the sprightlier acceleration, together with a 5th ration for smoother cruising. It is still not certain how American drivers will take to the shifting sensation, even though it might only be a matter of adaption with time.
The good thing is that, apart from the odd transmission feel, we find that the Smart Fortwo drives extremely well. The 12.9 second 0-60 mph time will not set any pulse, but there cannot be any trouble in getting the car to speed when merging onto the highway. The cabin notably remains quiet, and even with the one-liter engine working extremely hard, very little engine buzzing gets through in its operation (Lewin 57). Furthermore, the car feels somehow jumpy and shows some yawning motion at some speed; both outcomes or products of the short seventy three and a half inch wheelbase as well as a good argument for the keeping of both hands on the steering wheel. Whereas the Smart car appears to happy enough to cruise past a relatively cool Highway-two hundred and eighty and flirt with its ninety-mph top speed, a drive, for instance, through the Los Angeles during the rush hour traffic would be the best test of the highway credentials of the Smart.
In the city, the car is of course, in its element. The Smart Fortwo is remarkably maneuverable; that is it can slip past hurdles, and then make turns that are to some extent impossible in the larger cars. The driving of Smart car requires one to readjust his or her spatial expectations. One can nearly invariably find him or herself with a foot to spare, even in what people believe to be the tightest conditions. It is, needless to say, that parking is a walk in the park. The Smart car is currently working with municipalities in the United States to ensure that drivers would not be ticketed for pulling off a part work perpendicular to the curb; thus, they say that the response has been very positive and remarkable (Teweles & Edward 38). For those whose, most of the driving is in the city; the Smart car will have immediate appeal.
Another area that we can say that drivers, who use Smart Cars, have an edge over those who use larger cars is efficiency. Relying only on the concept of low mass and displacement, the car delivers thirty three mpg in the city and forty mpg on the highway; this is in accordance with the EPA standards of 2008. To the advantage of those who are not familiar to the revised standards of the EPA of 2008, representatives of the Smart are quick at pointing out that the car would have attained 40/50 mpg under the provisions of the year 2007. In any case, these are very good and commendable numbers, even if, possibly not as high as some may anticipate for such an extraordinarily small car. The ten gallon (reserve of 8.7 gallon, in addition to 1.3 gallon,) fuel tank provides a reputable and substantial range. One bummer; the car recommends premium ninety one octane fuel in order to maximize efficiency and power, even though it would get by on regular. On the positive side, the low exhaust emission gives the car a ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) classification.
Safety might be the harder sell due to the Smart’s small size in a world of larger automobiles, but that task that should now be easier following the very favorable crash test ratings that the car received from the IIHS. The explanation or key to this crashworthiness is the so-called tridion safety cell of the car, which is so critical to its distinctiveness that its distinct silver C-shape takes or covers the whole exterior design. More so, the cell does the distribution of the effect of a crash over the body of the car and protects those who are insider. The car’s compact design also gives it some advantages. The engine that is rear-mounted has a design, which enables it to break away, as well as, slide underneath the compartment of passenger in case of a rear impact, doing the absorption of energy and the reduction of rebound inherent in such a taut structure. Moreover, the short wheelbase of the car means that the possibility of hitting an axle or energy absorption in a single impact is very high, whereas the high position of sitting means that there is better protection in the frontal and site impacts. Two side bags and two full-size front airbags play supporting roles to the structure, in addition to ABA together with, a standard electronic program of stability that includes the traction control.
Smart Crash Aftermath
It still remains to be seen that the American nation that notoriously tends to associate size with safety, will feel comfortable driving such a tiny car even with its appealing crash test ratings. Much of the marketing efforts of Smart car; aims at getting purchasers to make the leap from their intuition of ‘bigger-is-better’ to embrace the intelligent engineering argument of the company. The big question now becomes how the company would get its message to the buyers. Until now, the tactics of marketing have been as unconventional and eccentric as the vehicle itself. However, the company performed a road show that took the car to fifty different cities in the United States, racking up some fifty thousand test drivers. A ninety nine dollar program of reservation via the website of the company also captured more than thirty thousand reservations for the Smart from fifty states, all without conventional marketing and before establishment of a dealer network. The company states that its target customers do not fit a particular demographic; instead, they are what the company call it, ‘thought leaders’ or even ‘the early adopters,’ individuals that the company believes will consider the innovative and simple car as the automobile equivalent of iPod.
Buyers will eventually buy the cars at one of the seventy four centers of the company that whose locations are major cities and towns around the United States, and the world as a whole. Nearly a third of these individual facilities with the remaining ‘store-in-store’ acts exist within Mercedes-Benz dealerships. In a strange move, for a major manufacturer of automobiles, Daimler is relying on a present network; that is the Penske Automotive- to act as the official distributor of the Smart.
The cost of Fortwo pure, of 2008, starts at eleven thousand, five hundred and ninety dollars. The thirteen thousand, five hundred and ninety dollars Smart passion coupe adds a scenery roof, radio fitted with CD player, alloy wheels, power windows, a three-spoke steering wheel fitted with shift peddles and air conditioning as standard tools. At sixteen thousand, five hundred and ninety dollars, the smart passion cabriolet takes the place of the roof with a hard top that is retractable. The side roof bars of the car are removable, and their its storage is in a partition in the rear door, for the full open top experience. Nonetheless all of the three models of the car come with a similar engine together with transmission. The president of the Smart Company in the United States, Dave Schembri, is full of confidence that after the long-term costs and residual values are to take into consideration; the car will prove to be the least expensive automobile in the whole world. There are several reasons as to why individuals would prefer the Smart car, but if that selling point pans out, then that might simply be the smartest of them all.