by Laura Neilson
Despite all the steam and excitement generated by the long-awaited arrival of the Smart Car on U.S. roads, rental companies for the little roadsters are surprisingly scarce. In fact, (other than our beloved Zipcar) GeniusRide is currently the only company with a fleet of Smart Cars available for daily, weekly and monthly rentals in the New York metro area.
While other rental companies tend to charge extra for tiny cars like Mini Coopers, which are often considered "exotic" or "luxury" rentals, GeniusRide's prices are as low as $80 per day (perhaps you're paying per square foot?). Each nine-foot coupe or convertible-top cabrio arrives with a TomTom XL 330 GPS unitâand by "arrives," we mean it. GeniusRide will actually bring the Smart Car to you. And if you've never driven one before or unfamiliar with its optional tiptronic gear shift system, you can get a brief driving lesson first. "We want to make these cars as accessible as possible," says Ary Bouskila, the company's president. He often delivers them himself.
Due to the incredibly high demand for these petite imports (depending on the region, the waiting period to purchase one is nine-14 months), Smart USA doesn't offer mass sales to rental companies. Instead GeniusRide built its fleet by initially buying up "orphans" from various dealers. Just under a year old, the Englewood, New Jersey-based company now has 52 Smart Cars in its keep. And with the holidays fast-approaching, a gift certificate for a rental might be the best evidence that big things do come in small packages.