Zero Air Pollution (ZAP) has been granted the right to sell DaimlerChrysler’s smart fortwo coupe and convertible models in eight states, according to Canadian magazine Macleans.
California-based ZAP, which started out providing electric vehicles, will begin selling the 2005 model smart cars immediately. To be eligible to sell the car, ZAP had to gain authorization from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The autos, sold in Canada for a year and Europe before that, have been customized to American standards. Smart cars offer drivers a cost effective fuel economy.
DaimlerChrysler manages all aspects of the brand in Canada through its sale at Mercedes-Benz dealers. It will not do so in the U.S. ZAP has a ten-year license on the technology developed by Smart-Automobile LLC to Americanize the European-made Smart for the U.S. marketplace, the report said.
The smart fortwo features a rear-mounted, direct injection, turbocharged, air-cooled 799-cc 3-cylinder common rail diesel engine made by Suprex, which produces 40-horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque available at an extremely low 1,800 to 2,800 rpm. Its extremely light curb weight of 1,631 pounds and high-tech "softip" sequential clutchless 6-speed Getrag automatic gearbox allow for adequate performance.
If ZAP has success selling the smart fortwo, it may try to sell the smart forfour in the future. The smart forfour is currently available in Europe.