A brainy buggy

Thousands of drivers are plunking down deposits for DaimlerChrysler’s Smart car despite the fact the automobile won’t hit U.S. showroom floors until next year.

United Auto Group since March has taken in $99 deposits from more than 12,000 people eager to get their hands on the tiny automobiles.

Smart cars reportedly get about 40 mpg and cost anywhere from $12,000 to $17,000, depending on the model. The two-seaters are about the size of a golf cart but still meet U.S. and European crash-test regulations—and they can reach speeds of up to 90 mph.

The cars are popular in Europe, where they’ve been selling since 1998. They are now available in 36 countries.