Somerville Gets Smart (Cars)
The rest of us might have to pay a $99 reservation fee and wait a minimum of one year to purchase a new Smart Car, but ain’t nothing stopping the City of Somerville from obtaining those golf-cart wannabes.
Mayor Joe Curtatone pulled a couple of strings last week at the Somerville-based Herb Chambers auto dealership and secured four new Mercedes Smart Fortwos for the school custodians and property assessors to use at work. At night the code inspectors will get the Smart Cars. They’re replacing a 1994 Chevy Blazer, which boasted a dismal 11 miles to the gallon.
Like their eco-vain neighbors in Boston, Somerville’s pretty proud of their pint-sized vehicles, decorated with the city’s seal, with their 60 miles to the gallon and their perpendicular curb parking. We’re wondering if Keohane and Cartman need to put Somerville on Smug Alert. Somerville spokeswoman Lesley Hawkins believes they are forging ahead of a national trend. The municipality is the first in the country to use Smart Cars for city employees, but she’s betting they won’t be the last. (Smug Alert increasing to Yellow.)
Mayor Curtatone adds that the environmentally friendly vehicles will help “maintain fiscal responsibility, lower carbon emissions, and promote alternative means of commuting.” (We hit Red, people; we hit Red!!)
The cars are also available to city employees to sign out on a case-by-case basis for use on official city business. If this pilot program is successful, the city will look to purchase more Smart Cars to encourage city employees to bike or take public transportation to work and then use the Smart Cars for city errands. (Wa-ooo-waa-ooo-wa–ooo! We’re at White Hot! Repeat: Tofu White Hot!)
Whether you love them, or think they should come with a bag of Callaways, Smart Cars are here to stay. More than 11,000 Americans purchased Smart Cars since their U.S. launch in January and the number of worldwide drivers is fast approaching one million. Even GM wants in; the automaker will bring the Chevy Beat—a brand sold in Europe—to the U.S. within the next few years.
If Somerville is a reliable indicator, GM better enter the market before the rest of Chevy’s SUVs are scrapped. Of course, the town may still need a few SUVs for those pesky occasions when the superintendent of school custodians needs to transport anything bigger than a laptop.