smart car: A Big Think Product Review

Hey, smart car, how smart are you, reallySince the late 90s, thousands of you have found homes on the streets and highways of Europe, but have only now made your way to the other side of the pond.

Lately, I’ve been seeing smart cars pop up in abundance on the streets of San Francisco. And last month, American roads became more intelligent when the BRABUS version of the smart fortwo hit the streets.

Smart cars might look like Fisher Price toys, but these days, less is more.

We can compare the BRABUS to the Urban Tractor, the John Deere-inspired, green and yellow cabriolet which was all the rage at the 2008 Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas. The Urban Tractor's slogan: "Going green doesn’t mean you have to give up being cool." The model came complete with a miniature model tractor on the radio antenna, plus four air horns and a big mama of a stereo. And the nods to an agricultural equipment manufacturer certainly has made the hipster crowd smile.

But how did it drive? Tim Mutchler of Consumer Reports' first impression of the Urban Tractor was similar to the experience he had with his John Deere riding mower. “Both fit in my garage easily. Both are pretty slow and noisy on the road. Both are easy to park. And both have headlights and a cup holder.”

BRABUS picks up where the Urban Tractor left off. It boasts a 112-horsepower, three-cylinder engine, which equates to 41 miles per gallon of efficiency—in this era of gas topping five dollars a gallon, efficiency is the new waste. At $17,990 for the coupe and $20,990 for the cabriolet, dealership prices are indeed steep, but buyers should consider the puny 70-horsepower engine of standard microcars.

In the post-SUV era, how do Fisher Price toys-on-wheels rate in safety? BRABUS models come equipped with passenger and driver side airbags, seat belt tensioners, and belt force limiters. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the smart fortwo five stars for side impact protection and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the smart fortwo coupe their highest rating in frontal offset and side crash tests.

It's encouraging to see the future of smart car innovation finally hitting American streets and a concerted effort toward fuel efficiency and safety coming along with it. What's more, smart cars are a signal Americans could finally be divorcing themselves from the bigger-is-better philosophy that has fueled the American love affair with cars since the Model T.

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

James Patterson on writing: Plotting, research, and first drafts

The best-selling author tells us his methods.

  • James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
  • He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
  • James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less