Busting the Smart Car Safety Myth – Two Reasons Smart Cars Are Safer Than You Think

One of the first reactions every smart car owner gets from people who see the tiny car on the street is, “How safe is it?” It’s a reasonable question; after all, the smart fortwo car is what is known as a micro mini car. In fact, it is just a bit over half the size of the ultra small BMW Mini Cooper. It’s also about half the weight of the Mini Cooper.

So that might lead anyone to believe it couldn’t possibly be safe, especially in the U.S., where our roads and highways are dominated by pickup trucks and SUVs. But actually, nothing could be further from the truth… the smart car is extremely safe, and here is why that particular myth is just wrong.

When Mercedes Benz first designed this car for the United States, safety was their driving concern. They knew Americans would never buy such a small car without a stellar safety record. Safety is built into every aspect of the smart car design, and all of the safety features are available as standard items, not as upgrades, as they often are in larger vehicles.

Smart car safety design is structured around two things: protection and control.

1. Smart For Two Cars Offer Superior Protection.

The foundation of protection in the smart fortwo car is the “tridion safety cell”, a sort of steel roll cage that surrounds both driver and passenger. In smart car crash tests, the tridion safety cell held up even at impacts of 70 miles per hour. In addition to the safety cell, there are also side braces for each door.

Secondly, there are 4 air bags built into the smart fortwo, one on each side and two in the front. High-mounted, safety-designed bucket seats have built-in headrests to protect your head and neck during a collision and integrated seatbelts containing belt tensioner and belt-force limiter technology.

A wheel-absorbing impact design assists with smart safety during a front or read end collision. Front and rear bumpers provide further protection in such accidents. In addition, the steering column collapses during crashes to protect the driver from injury.

2. Smart Cars Also Provide Safety Through Top-Notch Driver Control.

As if all those protective safety features weren’t enough to convince you that these cars are safe on the road, Mercedes also built in a number of control features to enhance safety even further.

An anti-lock braking system, which protects against swerving, assists you with added force where needed and even enables stability on slippery surfaces, makes the driver’s job dead easy. There is also a hill start assist to prevent you from rolling backwards when starting up on a hill and a traction control system to help with safety on wet roads.

In summary, smart car safety is assured. Even independent testing authorities agree that this car is safe. The smart fortwo car earned the highest front and side crashworthiness ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also received high marks in crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including a top five-star crash test rating for side impact protection and roof strength.

Electric Smart Cars – Rational Reasons and Results When Buying One

There are many reasons for buying any electric smart car, hybrid electric or plugin hybrid electric vehicle. The soaring costs of gas is likely the biggest and most pressing issue when considering buying an electric car. The environment and the planet is another concern. Whatever the reason, buying any BEV, PHEV or green planet-friendly automobile instead of that fossil-fuel burning internal combustion engine car, we’ll certainly have a positive effect on helping save the planet and save you money as well.

In order to make a smart electric car buying decisions, it is important to understand what the different types of electric-powered vehicles, and how smart electric cars work.

There are three types of electric assisted vehicle that utilize an electric motor of some kind. The battery electric vehicle (BEV) is as the name suggests-a battery powered vehicle. There is no other power source for the vehicle, no internal combustion engine (ICE) running on gasoline, and therefore the battery must be charged between uses, and will discharge during use until it runs out. At this point the vehicle can no longer run, so you’ll need to be near a charging point before you run out of gas, I mean electric juice.

Two types of hybrid electric vehicles offer the best of both the electric and the ICE vehicle worlds. The hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) uses an electric motor to either propel the car or to increase the power. Generally the result of this is to extend the distance that it can travel on a tank of fuel, giving the hybrid electric car better fuel economy.

Lastly there is the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). This runs in a largely similar way to the HEV but with one major difference-the battery can be plugged into a charging point, in order to completely charge the battery to its maximum capacity. The HEV by comparison can only charge its battery with the current generated by its ICE, or through regenerative breaking (a process in which energy is reclaimed during breaking rather than lost). By fully charging the battery the use of electrical power can be prolonged, and the use of gasoline reduced, making the PHEV the more economical of the hybrid electric vehicles.

The drive-train of a BEV is very simple-a battery powers the motor, which propels the electric vehicle. The hybrid electric vehicles will run an ICE and electric motor either in parallel or in series, with both the ICE and electric motor being able to move the electric or hybrid electric vehicle. A capacitor allows energy to be channeled back into the battery too, and in the case of the PHEV a separate charging circuit like that of the BEV is included to separately charge the hybrid electric vehicle.

There are two types of battery that are used in BEV, PHEV and HEV cars. Nickel metal hydride batteries are an older technology, and one that suffers from battery degradation more quickly than others. Newer, lithium-ion batteries are far more efficient, as well as longer lasting in both electric and hybrid electric vehicles. They don’t suffer from memory formation like nickel metal hydride batteries, and tend to be able to provide more power for the engine than the alternative.

Older hybrid electric vehicles may still use lead-acid batteries, but these are generally now considered bad for the environment, and are no longer used.

There are pros and cons to making the move to an electric or hybrid vehicle. They are cheaper to run than ICE cars and have good speed, and hybrid electric vehicles have good range too. But the BEV class can run generally for only up to 40-200 miles, leading to what is known as range anxiety. Hybrid electric vehicles overcome by using the ICE as well, giving vastly superior range.

Another downside is that the batteries wear out and need replacing. This is an expensive part on the car, and on a BEV the battery failure means that the car will completely fail to run. A hybrid at least has its ICE on which to fall back.

However, the overall running costs to the owner are far less than for a vehicle with an ICE. The electric or hybrid electric vehicle has less moving parts and so less chances of failure that needs repair. Fuel efficiency of a hybrid is hugely increased, saving money for every mile driven, and for a BEV is even less as electrical energy is cheaper than gas.

One of the biggest benefits to these vehicles is to the planet. Our oil reserves are finite and dwindling, and their continued use in this way further pollutes the environment. Moving to electric or hybrid electric vehicles will drastically reduce the pollutants emitted, and will slow the rate at which our planet’s natural resources are exhausted.

As far as the economy is concerned, electric and hybrid vehicles could be very positive development. The production of large numbers of these vehicles would require the building or converting manufacturing factories, and the hiring of workers to staff the factories. Claims are often made that our economy is heavily reliant on oil, and that moving away from it would destroy us, but the truth is quite different. By embracing these technologies, our economy can shift its dependence from oil onto alternatives, just as our motoring needs do.

An all-electric or hybrid vehicle may cost a little more to insure than a gas vehicle. Though a small saving is possible thanks to the improved risk profile of people who own electric vehicles, other costs are higher. However, repairing electric or hybrid vehicles currently costs more because there are fewer of these vehicles on the road, and because spare parts are less abundant. This increases repair costs, which insurance companies pass on to owners. Savings in running costs can help offset this.

Options are varied when considering purchasing one of these cars, giving potential owners a good range of choice when it comes to the power, size and range of their vehicle. The following are currently available or soon to be released, highway ready environmentally-friendly cars. Full details are not available for some of those cars that are not yet on sale.

The Nissan Leaf is an all electric car doing 100 miles per charge and up to 90 mph, and starting at $33,720. This is a modern looking car with a reasonable range, and a competitive pricing. The Tesla Roaster is also all-electric, with an incredible 245 miles per charge, 125 mph top speed, and costs starting at $101,500. This is a stunning looking car with an equally stunning performance-and a range like no other electric car.

The Smart-ED all-electric model has a 98 mile maximum range, and a top speed of 60 mph. This small car will be perfect for city driving. Starting at $599 a month for a four year lease.

Ford’s own all electric car-the Ford Focus has yet to be released but is expected to have a range in excess of 100 miles per charge. This car will be available from late 2011, and looks to provide all of the high-tech options that people may want, in a very stylish exterior. Final price and other details have yet to be released.

Chevrolet’s Volt is a PHEV that is capable of speeds of 100 mph. Fuel economy depends on how often you charge the battery, with official figures released at 60 mpg using gas and electric combined. Prices start at $32,780, giving this a reasonable price tag along with good performance.

Toyota’s Prius is a PHEV that has an incredible range of 475 miles on a single tank of gas, when using combined gas and the electric motor. Unfortunately, since it won’t be available till early 2012 there are no more details regarding performance and pricing.

A full hybrid version of the Toyota Prius is also available, with a base price of $23,520. With a combined mileage of 50mpg and a top speed of 112 mph, it has enough power and efficiency for anyone. This is a tried and trusted hybrid car with a good reputation.

Ford’s Fusion has a hybrid version as well, with a starting price of $19,820. With a 700 mile range per full tank of fuel, and 41 mpg, it is powerful and sleek, and has the range to take you wherever you want to go.

The Escalade hybrid from Cadillac is a luxury SUV, and so it’s price tag is a little larger, at $74,135. Fuel efficiency is good for an SUV at up to 23 mpg and a range of up to 575 miles per tank. This SUV balances the needs of a larger family with the desire to be a little more environmentally friendly, and does so with incredible style.

The Advantages of Smart Car Keys

Pretty much all new cars nowadays are equipped with smart key technology, which has made putting a key into your car’s door to unlock it or into the ignition switch to start your car’s engine obsolete. Now you have a transmitter fob, which relies on radio frequencies to unlock a car’s doors and start its engine. At the beginning, when intelligent car keys were first introduced, they were mostly used in luxury cars, since it was an expensive technology, and it didn’t make sense to implement it in less expensive cars. Some of the most popular and advanced smart key systems include Mercedes-Benz’s Keyless Go integrated into SmartKeys, Toyota’s Smart Key System, Lincoln’s Intelligent Access System, and BMW’s Comfort Access.

Vehicles that come with such technology are equipped with computerized systems, and can identify the driver as they are approaching the car. The system uses several microchips and sensors that transmit information to the smart key, which opens the car’s doors thanks to a radio transponder chip that is installed in the key. This is a so called Passive Keyless Entry System, which doesn’t even require you to take your key out of your pocket or your bag and pushing a button to unlock the doors. Once you’ve entered your car, you can start the engine by pressing the engine start button.

These are perhaps the most significant advantages of intelligent over traditional car keys. In addition to being very convenient, they make your car difficult to steal. This is because thieves can’t unlock and start a car that has smart key features using the traditional method, that involves cutting some wires, then stripping and connecting them. The computer system in the car requires that the correct code from the smart key is transmitted, and if it doesn’t receive it, it won’t get the car going, no matter which and how many wires are cut and connected.

As far as the downsides are concerned, it’s worth noting that there are some added costs that come with owning a car with a smart key technology. If you happen to lose your smart key, it may cost you over $100 to replace it, whereas replacing a traditional key only costs $10 – $15. Plus, you can’t buy a new intelligent key wherever you want, since it’s a technology that is trademarked by your car’s manufacturer, and you can only get one at an authorized dealership, which means you’ll probably waste a lot of time and go through quite a hassle while trying to find a replacement key.

Robotic Sensors and Smart Car Technologies Will Lead to More Frequency Pollution

In the not so far off future, our automobiles will practically drive themselves. In other words you can put them on autopilot, while you are on the freeway, and they will merely follow the car in front of you, and if it starts to brake or slowdown, the car you are driving in will also automatically do the same, therefore keeping you out of danger.

Your car will also have artificial intelligence and many of the typical drives that you do during the week will go into the car’s memory banks, and with voice control you can tell the car that you wish to go to the grocery store, to Starbucks, or to pick your kids up from school, and your car will oblige and set off in that direction all by itself. Almost like having your own taxi driver. Do you think this is too far-fetched?

Well you shouldn’t because Lexis, Mercedes, and many of the other high-end automobile makers already have cars which parallel park themselves. The technology already exists for trucks to drive in convoys where each of the vehicles is talking to each other. If the vehicle in front starts to slow down, it automatically slows down all the trucks in the row. This allows them to travel at high rates of speed nearly bumper-to-bumper. This saves fuel just like saving energy in the Tour de France when all the bicyclists get in a row.

Pedestrians will be safe because the cars will have radar, infrared, sonar, and or lidar. However, with all these robotic sensors and SmartCar technologies, there will also be more Frequency Pollution. Already people are complaining about the scanners at the airport, the x-rays at the dental office, and even the self checkout at the grocery store as it does the barcode scan. These little amounts of energy are probably not going to hurt you much, just as a.5 W cell phone probably doesn’t put too much microwave frequency into your brain if you’re using it in moderate durations of time.

However, if you are driving a lot and all the time, you will be constantly bombarded with all of this frequency, which will not be good for your biosystem or the cells in your body. Are you beginning to see the problem here? Perhaps someone needs to invent a car body and windows which will stop this frequency pollution from getting inside the vehicle and hurting the occupants. But what about those who are sitting at outdoor caf├ęs, traffic policeman directing traffic, bicyclists or pedestrians? Someone needs to consider all this.

Smart Car Technology Is Saving Lives

Thanks to tougher testing and new technology our cars are now safer. It seems the auto manufacturers have been paying attention to the crash data studies and have begun to build cars that meet or exceed the crash safety standards for occupants. Newer cars are providing a greater level of safety in crashes and also providing new enhanced collision technology which up till now has not existed. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) identifies those vehicles that are equipped with this new technology on their website safe Car.gov.

These new crash avoidance technologies come in the following forms:

– Electronic Stability Control (ESC); Senses when your vehicle is starting to lose control and helps you maintain control during extreme maneuvers. Automatically applies the brake to one or more of the wheels to turn your vehicle to the appropriate direction.

– Forward Collision Warning (FCW); Alerts you when your vehicle is getting too close to another vehicle, allowing you to brake or steer, which can help avoid a crash.

– Lane Departure Warning (LDW); Senses and monitors lane markings. It warns you when your vehicle is unintentionally drifting to another lane, or leaving the road altogether, potentially allowing you to steer back into your lane.

Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher testing along with much more stringent rating criteria for their 5-Star Safety rating system. It also recommends those vehicles that provide crash avoidance technologies. Because of the more stringent tests, ratings for 2011 and newer vehicles should not be compared to ratings for 1990-2010 models. The new test now incorporates a smaller dummy size to replicate a woman or teenager. NHTSA says its tests will also collect more data from extra sensors that are placed on the crash test dummies.

The Overall Vehicle 5 Star Score is based on how well a vehicle protects the occupants during frontal, side crash safety and rollover resistance. It has also added a new test, a side pole test, which simulates a crash involving stationary objects, like a tree or telephone pole. The score is simple, 5 stars means the car received the highest rating while1 star the lowest.

When it comes to being safe in our vehicles there are some simple and low tech options that should not be overlooked.

– Proper Tire Pressure; Underinflated and over inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure. Check your tires pressure once a month. Replace worn tires and make note of irregular wear, this could be a sign of wheel misalignment.

– Maintain the Brakes; having effective brakes is critical to vehicle safety. Have your brakes inspected with every oil change will help to insure that they are in proper working order.

– Coolant Level; Make sure you have enough coolant to withstand winter weather. When coolant freezes it expands and has the potential to damage your engine block. Usually a 50/50 mixture of coolant to water is sufficient for most regions of the country.

– Seat Belts; Just wearing a seatbelt has shown to improve your chances of surviving a crash dramatically. In 2010 an estimated 12,546 lives were saved by the use of seatbelts. Enforcing the fact that seatbelts are life savers in a five year period from 2006 to 2010 seatbelts have saved over 69,000 lives. Fatalities in vehicle continue to decline. In 2011 an estimated 32,310 people died in vehicle traffic crashes down 1.7% from 2010. These fatalities are the lowest in record since 1949. Statistics show that traffic fatalities have been on a steady decline since a peak in 2005, decreasing by about 26% from 2005-2011.