smart fortwo Takes the Green Car Thing a Bit Too Literally

The automotive industry has been struggling to find ways of reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of its cars for years, and one of the solutions found led to the proliferation of diesel passenger cars.
Moovel Lab smart fortwo Green Skin 4 photos
Photo: Moovel Lab
Moovel Lab smart fortwo Green Skin projectMoovel Lab smart fortwo Green Skin projectMoovel Lab smart fortwo Green Skin project
This September, that has been proven as a bad idea once and for all - thanks, EPA - so it’s time everybody started looking elsewhere. While most manufacturers see the use of hybrid powertrains, fuel cell technology or even classic EVs as the most obvious solutions, Moovel Lab has a different idea.

Moovel Lab is part of Moovel, a company affiliated with Daimler and responsible for the car sharing scheme Car2Go, which operates a fleet of smart fortwos. Now that the introductions have been made, hear what this appendix of mega-conglomerate Daimler thought about: wrapping one of their cars in soil, and planting grass seeds all over it. With water, sun and care, those seeds would sprout and turn the little smart into a CO2 sponge and a producer of oxygen.

That sounds so obvious - why didn’t somebody think of it before? Actually, this technique has been in use for buildings for quite a while, covering entire walls in moss and other non-pretentious green plants to improve the air quality. But on cars?

According to Moovel Lab, its “Green Skin” project can remove up to seven kilograms of CO2 out of the air each year, which is extremely low. Given how a very efficient car emits 100 g of the gas every kilometer, a non-electric smart could only drive for 70 kilometers a year before losing its carbon-neutral quality. While that would ensure a very good resale price, it would also render the car pretty useless for its current owner.

How about electric cars, then? That would make more sense, but you still can’t help feel that the added weight and the high drag coefficient would cancel the small advantage. Not to mention that, besides a mechanic, you would also need a gardener now. And de-misting the windows on a cold, damp day must be a real nightmare.

But if you don’t mind turning your car into something that resembles a troll and could be used as a mobile spare parts deposit for a football field, this idea holds water. Both figuratively and literally.

Of course, this is just a metaphor for drawing people’s attention on a very serious matter. Moovel Lab admits that an adult tree is 370 times more efficient than their smart (it filters 2,600 CO2 kilograms per year), so instead of wrapping your car in grass, you’d do a lot better getting an extra ficus on your balcony. But an image of that wouldn’t have been as interesting as a hobbit’s smart fortwo, right?
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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