Smart Car Tipping Rouses Love and Hate for Diminutive Vehicles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When vandals decided to flip four Smart cars in San Francisco this week, car owners in the City wondered who would pull such a prank, while some bloggers cheered for joy.

    That the car has become a political symbol, however, is misdirected, according to Jason Cammisa, senior editor of Road & Track.

    "People are simply buying these cars," he said, "because they fit in tight spots. They don't sell outside big cities where parking is at a premium."

    The story of the tipped-over Smart cars -- which get 36 mpg, cost about $13,000 and weigh nearly 1,000 pounds less than a Mini Cooper -- quickly made headlines.

    Many sites picked up the story, including the conservative Drudge Report. By day’s end, more than 400 people had left comments on NBC Bay Area’s article. Commenters seemed divided between those who love the environmentally friendly "micro cars" and those who deride the 106-inch long two-seaters -- along with those who drive them.

    The observation that one of the Smart cars tipped over in San Francisco had a faded “Obama Biden” sticker just fueled the retweets.

    “I love it when the Left eats their own,” posted a man named Jack Dorso, who lists that he lives in Berkley, Michigan on his Facebook page.

    “Blame the hippies,” wrote Brandon D. Clay of Fruit Heights, Utah.

    “But, but, we're good democrats (sic),” posted someone named William Poh from Forestdale, Mass, in a comment dripping with sarcasm. “We drive shoeboxes to save the environment. Without us global warming would bake us all. WHY, WHY?? We're good democrats.Funny that you never see 6-8 kids turning over SUV's. Live safe, buy bigger cars.”

    And a Texas blogger for consrvativemom, who describes herself as an #exLefty, devoted an entire article toward her "hatred" for the Smart car, where she wondered where her “absolutely vicious and vitriolic hatred” comes from whenever she sees one.

    Her answer came down to this: Liberals who drive them hold a holier-than-Thou attitude.

    "'Lookit Me. I'M not using very much fuel.’ Good," the blog states in a mimicking tone. "That means there's more for ME and my ten-year-old 14-mpg Dodge Grand Caravan eX.”

    Cars and politics are nothing new.

    The New York Times wrote an article "Your Car: Politics on Wheels" in 2005. And the marketing firm Strategic Vision found in a 2012 poll of 76,000 car owners that the type of car you buy is oft-dependant on political affiliation. A total of 54 percent of Republicans prefer full-size pickups to 24 percent of Democrats. Likewise, 36 percent of Democrats preferred small cars to their conservative counterparts.

    And it seems like the animosity toward the tiny little car is growing.

    On Wednesday, someone tipped over a smart car in Columbus, Ohio, leaving police to wonder whether this was a copycat case.

    San Francisco police on Wednesday had no new updates on the six to eight suspects they were seeking in relation to the flipped over cars found Monday morning.

    Meanwhile, those who vote blue stood up for the Smart cars, too – even if their voices were drowned out just a bit in the debate.

    Rachel Nabors of Raleigh, North Carolina started a “Love my Smart Car” blog devoted to her "safe, affordable and efficient" car she names Roxi. (Though she recently posted she is selling her ride to be “car free” in Portland.)

    Others simply note that the small cars are easier to park in a bustling city.

    “I don't think you understand how difficult it is to find parking in SF. I can see the appeal of a Smart Car,” wrote Crystal Witten of San Francisco.

    Donna Bolan, spokeswoman for Mercedes Benz, which operates the Smart car division, told NBC Bay Area in an email that those who buy the “unique and innovative” car span all demographics.

    But she did acknowledge that San Francisco is a strong market for the car with “eco minded” and “self-confident” customers who are open to adopting new trends before the rest of the nation catches on.

    “I  don’t think there’s a lot of people who ‘hate’ it (at least not the way you might hate an oversize SUV that takes up two parking spaces)," Boan said. "Some people just tend to make fun of things that aren’t in their frame of reference. Naturally if you’re not that type of person, then you just don’t get it."