Thursday, February 20, 2003

Toronto Autoshow 2003

To the Toronto Autoshow on Tuesday to check out the car scene. The new Toyota Echo hatchback was on display along with a couple of tricked-up "import" not-for-sale type versions. This is a worthy entrant in the economy car market available in two and four door variants. A fully loaded version should be available for under $20,000 CDN including tax. There will be no diesel version in Canada but a spokesman confessed he had had many requests for such a car.
Next to Mercedes Benz to ask about progress on importing the Smart car - an optimistic spokesman said the testing process was going well and he hoped that the diesel version would be on the market by late 2003. This cheering news was soon punctured by a spokesman for Transport Canada who said that the car was unlikely to be on the market until late 2004 or early 2005. The usual government penchant for secrecy was in evidence but under questioning I discovered that the testing process was 70% complete and that the rear crash protection was under scrutiny.
As last year Transport Canada had a Smart car on display and were dispensing a brochure giving a fuel consumption for the diesel version of 86.1 mpg for city driving and 101.6 on the highway. It makes the US manufacturers protestations that they cannot improve fuel consumption by 1.5 mpg look ridiculous.
Mind you there were plenty of land yachts in evidence with the humongous Ford F-350 Tonka Concept truck dominating the entrance to one hall.

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