Smart cars are a brand of small, two-person automobiles manufactured in Germany and distributed across the world. They are known for their efficiency, both in size and demand for resources. The small size gives Smart cars the ability to park facing the curb without sticking out any farther from the curb than most cars while parallel parked. Different versions of Smart car are available using different types of power, including electric fuel cells, diesel and standard gasoline.
Most Smart car models, as of April 2011, still run on standard gasoline. However, their small size and efficient engines enable Smart cars to run on considerably less gasoline than most other vehicles, and the Smart fortwo is the most fuel efficient gasoline-powered, non-hybrid vehicle in the U.S. Given that Smart cars are made to carry, at most, two people, and that they have a limited amount of room for gasoline, the cars are best used for short trips. However, unlike hybrids, which are recharged during frequent braking, Smart cars are less efficient in cities than on highways.
Other models of Smart cars are available with diesel engines. Like the gasoline models the diesel version of the Smart car requires less fuel to power its engine. Although less available in certain markets, diesel fuel has a higher density than standard gasoline and is therefore more fuel efficient.
A special model of Smart cars is manufactured to run entirely on electricity. While more expensive to purchase -- originally released at $35,000 compared to $12,000 for the gasoline base model -- the vehicle saves considerable cost in energy as the price of gasoline continues to rise over time. Considered a hybrid vehicle although it runs entirely on electricity, this model of Smart cars has a range limited to between 120 and 150 miles per charge and takes 5 to 6 hours to fully power.
In the United States there are four models of the Smart car available. Standard models are based on the Smart fortwo designs originated in Europe. The Pure coupe is a basic, gasoline-powered vehicle which emphasizes safety, comfort and efficiency. The Passion coupe is a deluxe version of the Pure with some extra comforts added, while the Passion includes a better sound system and a convertible top. Lastly the Electric Drive is a completely electric version of the standard fortwo model. The availability of the Electric Drive is so limited and demand high enough that customers must sign-up in order to purchase one.