The smog was so bad in Hong Kong last month that “people with heart or respiratory illnesses (were) advised to reduce physical and outdoor activities,” according to Radio Television Hong Kong.
Daimler AG is looking to help ease matters by bringing a trial version of its Smart electric car (which won't be produced until next year) to the city, according to Bloomberg. The German car manufacturer has partnered with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, and four other HK-based organizations to provide two-seater Smart cars in a trial that will last six to 12 months, as part of a bigger four-year trial for the EV.
There are currently 300 charging stations for the 170 electric vehicles in Hong Kong, but the plan is to increase the number of stations to 1,000 in the next year. Nissan and Mitsubishi are also pushing “to introduce electric vehicles in Hong Kong,” Bloomberg reports, “where pollution reached ‘very high’ levels on a record one in four days in 2010.”
“A combination of electric vehicles and cleaner energy is a very good recipe for Hong Kong to become a greener city,” Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s environment secretary, told Bloomberg.
The other four partners to Daimler in the trial of the car that can currently travel 84 miles on a full charge are CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd., Jardine Airport Services Ltd., Yan Chai Hospital, and Hongkong Electric Co.
Separately, the New York Times notes that Daimler just unveiled a new Smart-branded concept car — the Forvision — at the Frankfurt Auto Show to put its competitors (notably, BMW and its BMWi sub-brand), on notice:
For all its, well, shortcomings, the Smart car has often been an ambitious workshop for forward-thinking automotive design. The Forvision concept, scheduled to have its debut in Frankfurt this month, appears to be a message from Daimler, Smart’s parent, to BMW and its “i” subbrand: two can play at this city-car-of-tomorrow game.
The concept’s exterior paint was developed by BASF, the chemical engineering company, with the goal of reflecting and reducing heat within the cockpit by up to four degrees Celsius on a hot day. BASF describes the concept car in a press release:
(Forvision) combines futuristic design with innovative technologies in the areas of energy efficiency, lightweight design and temperature management. Researchers and developers from both companies have succeeded in combining a total of five auto world premieres in the smart forvision. Transparent organic solar cells, transparent organic light-emitting diodes, all-plastic wheels, new lightweight body components and infrared-reflective films and coatings lower energy consumption, in this way enhancing the car’s driving range and comfort.
And in the US, Smart tonight unveils a national campaign with a primetime TV commercial (its first), described as the first part of an extensive marketing platform designed to create broader awareness for the smart car — and its mindset — among American consumers.
According to the press release:
The campaign, which will run on network, national cable and spot TV as well as online, consists of two spots: "unbig" (above), which premieres today, and "unclutter," which will premiere in October. A custom live commercial will air tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Ads will also run during the fall season premiere of shows such as Dancing With the Stars, NCIS: LA, New Girl, Grey's Anatomy, Fringe, CSI: Miami among others. The spots will also rotate through national cable and spot TV.
"At its essence, smart challenges people to reorient their thinking around what they really need in terms of transportation versus the traditional automotive offering," said Tracey Matura, general manager of smart. "This campaign is about reaching, in an appealing and slightly irreverent way, people who believe the key to life is having what you need. smart is all about reducing congestion and clutter and right-sizing your life, a message that we think is perfect for these times."
As it continues to roll out, the marketing campaign for the smart brand will place heavy emphasis on digital marketing, social media activation across virtually all major channels and highly targeted sponsorships/events. All marketing activities will have social media components across various platforms including the brand's redesigned social media platforms – smartusa on Facebook, Twitter and on YouTube – all of which sport a new face today. smart will also utilize events and sponsorships which offer strong lifestyle intersects with the brand beginning with music (Fun Fun Fun Fest), eclectic arts (Gen Art, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week) and sustainability (author Neil Chambers Urban Green Tour).
[Image at top: Daimler's 2008 Smart campaign in Hong Kong, via]