skip to content

$25K Smart ED

Smart's Fortwo Electric Drive

The latest generation of smart ED will retail at $US25,000, in what the Daimler Benz owned company claims is "the most affordable production electric vehicle in the U.S.". Slated for arrival in showrooms in the Spring of 2013 smart (officially all lower case) also has a slightly more expensive cabriolet model priced at $US28,000. The company also says that its customers could recoup up to $US7500 in various tax credits offered by the myriad of tiers of US government(s).

smart fortwo ed 

Being small on US roads now appears to be a good thing. smart (note correct capitization) says it's electric drive version of the ForTwo (incorrect capitalization) has the smallest carbon footprint of any car on U.S. roads, a claim which sounds like it could be accurate as there are still V10 Hummers rolling around dropping the kids off at school (as I observed in L.A.).

The company says that the fortwo (what the ...) was always designed with electric drive in mind more than 20 years ago. Hmmmm... yeah right. So when electric drive-trains showed up, there was no change to manufacturing.

As it turns out, the smart ED battery slots in precisely where the fuel tank sits. It's easy to guess where that is because there's no room anywhere else to put such a thing: that's right, under the floor between the front and rear wheels. Coincidentally Tesla put their battery there too. But that's not all, the electric motor fits exactly where the internal combustion engine used to sit. As a consequence of this design foresight, the fortwo (ForTwo) appears identical to the models running around today. Given the apparent ease with which the car has migrated over to electric drive, you'd have to wonder if a retrofit electric drive kit could be made available to upgrade existing vehicles.

The smart electric drivetrain's roots can be traced back to 2007 when the company release 100 cars on to the streets of London. Various companies and fleet owners drove them in an early test of the technology. The power source back then was a high-temperature sodium-nickel-chloride battery that operated at 600°F. After pre-heating the chemicals in their thermos flask like insulating housing the car could go for up to 100km (60 miles or so).

2009 saw 2000 units of the next generation let loose in 18 geographies around the world of which 550 were in the U.S. (300 of which are operated by Car2Go). Gone was the sodium battery which was replaced by newer lithium-ion technology operating at normal temperatures. The magic 100km target is the range on a full charge. Motor power is 20Kw with a short burst peak of 30Kw for over taking (optimistic, but that's what the press release says).

The 250 U.S. units (not operated by Car2Go) were targetted at early adopters in L.A. and Washington D.C. because they actually have vehicle charging stations.

It will be interesting to see how these tiny, by U.S. standards, cars will be accepted.

Maybe electric pizza delivery will be the future in L.A. Not so far fetched. You're certainly not going to need a mechanic because there's nothing left inside the engine bay.