Our members in the news
Smart Cars ... Sold Out - January 31, 2008
Could High Gas Prices Push Alternative Fuels? - November 13, 2007
KBCI TV Channel 2 in Boise interviewed Tom about his smart car in a story about the rising gas prices and the push for alternative fuels. See the video interview at http://www.2news.tv/news/11254166.html
Cars - June 15, 2007
KIDK TV Channel 3 in Idaho Falls interviewed Sindy and Barry about their smart cars. See the video interview at
The Medicine Shoppe uses Smart car to make deliveries - May 19, 2007
Photos by MEAGAN THOMPSON/Times-News
Kent Jensen, pharmacist and owner of The Medicine Shoppe, drives a 2005 Smart car, one of two that his company uses to deliver prescriptions to customers in the Magic Valley.
Jensen shows off the three-cylinder engine in the rear of his 2005 Smart car. The car can reach speeds of 85 mph and gets up to 60 miles per gallon.
TWIN FALLS - People stare when Kent Jensen or one his employees at The Medicine Shoppe make deliveries.
"You drive somewhere and people follow you and stop you when you get out and ask all about this," Jensen said.
"This" is one of the two Smart cars he bought from a dealership in Bozeman, Mont. Like Mercedes Benz, Smart is a division of the company that has been known as DaimlerChrysler.
Jensen bought the first of his two 2005 Passions in March. He bought the second one last month. He paid about $23,000 apiece for the cars after watching Steve Martin drive one as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the 2006 remake of "The Pink Panther."
"I thought it was so cool, those little cars," Jensen said. "If everybody drove one of these we could tell the Middle East to drink their oil."
The cars, which weigh about 1,600 pounds and are only eight-feet long, have three-cylinder engines and room for two passengers. They can reach speeds of 85 mph and get up to 60 miles per gallon.
"Besides looking cool, these make sense," said Jensen, who has owned his pharmacy for 10 years. His cars have stereos with CD players, air conditioning and plenty of head and leg room.
But the car wasn't wide enough for an automatic car wash. "This side over here did OK," Jensen said of the driver's side of the car. "But the other side, the brushes didn't hit it. They had to do it by hand."
That's a minor inconvenience when compared to the money he is saving on gasoline. And the cars have attracted plenty of attention for the pharmacy at 615 Filer Ave.
"Unless we go to bikini delivery girls, I don't think we're going to do anything that will cause a bigger stir," Jensen said.
May In Motion - May 2, 2007
May In Motion is an event in Boise, Idaho, promoting alternative modes of transportation. Both Tom Schmidt and Ed Robertson had their smart cars at the event. You can see the KBCI Channel 2 TV news video clip at
http://www.2news.tv/news/7302351.html which includes an interview with Tom about the smart car.
Earth Day: Idaho smart car rally - April 22, 2007
Four smart cars attended the first smart car rally in Idaho on Earth Day. Three cars were from Boise and one from Idaho Falls. We were interviewed by 3 television stations, and have the video clips available here:
|Watch Idaho smart car rally Channel 2 video|
|Watch Idaho smart car rally Channel 6 video|
|Watch Idaho smart car rally Channel 12 video|
55 Smiles Per Gallon - May 20, 2006
Photos by Joe Jaszewski/Idaho Statesman
"Everyone loves this car," said Smart car owner Mary Schmidt, who bought her tiny vehicle from a Seattle dealer who modified it to meet Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards. The car gets nearly 55 miles per gallon.
By Emily Simnitt
There are only two of these babies in Boise. They're hard to get, but the mpg is worth the wait.
"Does it win the fun award or what?" asked Mary Schmidt as she proudly showed off the teeny-tiny, two-door, backseat-less Smart car parked in the driveway of her Boise Bench home.
Schmidt is one of two Boiseans and one of the first few hundred people in the U.S. to own the car that has been a hit in crowded European cities for the past several years.
The car is made by DaimlerChrysler (you know, the Mercedes people) and imported by Zap, a pollution-conscious manufacturer and reseller of electric and fuel-efficient transportation products in Santa Rosa, Calif.
The car earns admiring stares for its looks, but it also turns heads for its 55 miles per gallon at a time when gas prices are hovering just below $3 a gallon.
Schmidt and Ed Robertson, who owns the other Smart car you'll see in Boise, got their cars through the Green Car Co. in Seattle after waiting two years for the cars to be imported and converted to meet U.S. safety and emissions standards.
Chris Osterhout, a marketer for the Seattle company, said he's sold about 30 of the cars since they became available in the U.S. at the beginning of March. In addition to the two that came to Boise, the Seattle company's cars ended up in places like Portland, Montana, even Minnesota.
The next closest Smart car dealer is in southern Nevada.
Who's buying the cute little cars?
"Most are 35 and older, middle- to upper-class income and interested in saving gas," said Osterhout. "It's also about the look, the fact that it's a unique car."
The look is why there's one parked in Schmidt's driveway.
A TASTE OF EUROPE
About 350 Smart cars were made available this spring, but Zap hopes to sell as many as 6,000 this year in the U.S. Schmidt saw the car two years ago while visiting London. When she saw the impossibly small vehicle tucked into an impossibly small parking space on a crowded European street, she turned to her husband and said, "I want one."
Schmidt is a car buff. Although she carts her two sons, ages 12 and 14, around in a Volvo SUV, it's the '66 Mustang in the garage that is close to her heart.
"I grew up in compact cars," said Schmidt. "When I was little, we had little Datsuns. My first car was a VW Rabbit."
Now she plans to show her "cute and shiny" Smart car along with the Mustang in car shows all summer.
Robertson's Smart car story starts in Europe, too.
As the owner of Idaho Wine Merchant, a local wine distributing company, Robertson often travels to Europe to check out its beverages.
A couple of years ago, he read a story in The Wall Street Journal about the car and Zap, the company that was going to try to import them.
Robertson contacted the company, sent in a $1,000 deposit and waited for two years for his car to be shipped this April.
"I'd seen them in Europe and thought it would be a great car for salespeople driving downtown," said Robertson. "They take up no room."
Robertson already carts around small deliveries in a Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid he's had for two years that's touted for its fuel-efficiency.
While he probably won't be making deliveries in the Smart car, both he and Schmidt say the vehicle has a surprising amount of room.
Schmidt said she can squeeze in a half-cart of groceries from Winco.
Robertson has no trouble sliding his 6-foot-4-inch frame into the car.
The car doesn't have a backseat, but that's OK with Schmidt as long as he can make room for his golf clubs. "The passenger seat folds down," Schmidt said. "What more can you ask?"
Besides, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up in fuel efficiency with its 55 miles per gallon. In a time when gas prices are averaging $2.90 a gallon in Idaho, that's no small consideration.
"A lot of people think it's one of the craziest things I've ever done," said Robertson. "But it hardly uses any gas. I thought, 'Why not do it?'"
Mary Schmidt said that the front end of the Smart car was designed to look like it is smiling.
THE CUTE FACTOR
Of course, there's also the lure of having a unique car.
"The cars get a lot of attention," Robertson said. "It's surprising the number of people who follow you. They'll stop you and say, 'We saw those cars in France.'"
If you go see "The Da Vinci Code" this weekend, you'll reportedly see the miniscule autos tooling around in the Dan Brown novel-inspired thriller.
Schmidt said she has to plan extra time when she runs errands in the Smart car.
She's had people wait for her in parking lots to ask questions about the car. One man passed her twice on the Connector recently so he could take pictures of the car with his cell phone.
"When you're driving down the road, everyone smiles," Schmidt said. "One guy called it a 'screaming toaster.'"
Schmidt is thinking that might make a nice vanity plate.
Her husband has driven the car a couple of times to work at Micron where it's earned him several free lunch offers in exchange for rides.
There's just something about the little car.
"I'm usually the most careful shopper," Schmidt said. "But I just sent in the money without seeing or test-driving the car. I just absolutely fell in love with it.
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