With the first Smart Car set to hit the US in January, Newsweek questions the company president on the intelligence of trying to sell a 1,750-pound vehicle in the land of bigger-is-better. Despite bad safety ratings from Consumer Reports and entrenched SUV love in the American psyche, he seems confident—bolstered by 30,000 pre-orders.
Though interest seems focused in urban areas, David Schembri is convinced Americans will catch onto the two-seater Europeans have loved for a decade. He cites a $12,000 price, 40 mpg, rising awareness of climate change, Smart's NASCAR-like roll cage, and additional safety features in the US version not tested by CR. And yes, fat American butts will fit. (Read more Mercedes-Benz stories.)