Test Drive of the week: Smart Fortwo

The car is a small, compact two-seater. It is easy to get into and feels spacious inside.
The interior is not really basic; it feels slightly luxurious. The upholstery was a nice patterned grey colour and the dashboard and side doors were also shades of grey.

The dashboard is very clean and easy to read. The GPS seems quite sophisticated and is inlaid, like a TV set.

It starts up just like a normal car. There are only three speeds: neutral, drive and reverse–very simple. You don’t have to press very hard to accelerate. The car will go from 0 to 30mph in 6.5 seconds, and has an electronically limited top speed of 60 mph. Of course, there is no sound when driving since it is electric.

It drives easily and responsively. We drove on a test track with lots of winding roads and a traffic-free straight away and it was a peppy, but not really speedy, ride.

It has a lithium battery which is included in the cost price and should last 8 to 10 years. It also has ESP, ABS brakes two airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners, and also features a NCAP tested tridion safety cell. It is air-conditioned which is a nice, although not that necessary, plus. The 30kW electric motor is built by Zytek Automotive, a UK technology company.

As the first step of its electric drive program, smart has been running 100 demonstration vehicles in the United Kingdom since 2007. The series production of the smart fortwo electric drive has now started with 1,000 vehicles, which will be run in both Europe- starting by the end of 2009- and the United States- starting in the second half of 2010 in several cities. The series production in large numbers will start for model year 2012 vehicles, which can be bought in all smart centers.

The smart fortwo electric drive will be equipped with a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery powering a 30 kW motor positioned over the rear drive wheels. The battery can be charged with either 100V or 220V systems and will require between 3.5 and 8 hours of charging time, depending on the voltage used and the starting state of the battery charge. An 85 mile range is anticipated.

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Smart ED

There will be 100 smart ed’s produced for the initial phase of e-mobility Berlin and the cars will integrate with an intelligent RWE charging network made upof the 500 charging stations. The smart ed electric uses a lithium ion battery design that is making its first appearance in the Mercedes S-400 BlueHYBRID that will be entering showrooms very soon.

It comes with everything that makes a smart a smart – but it doesn’t have a combustion engine. A 30 kW/41 bhp magnetic motor runs at the rear of the smart fortwo electric drive that is driven by a high-performance, high-temperature battery made from environmentally compatible sodium-nickel-chloride. This is housed in the underbody, which means that the interior space is not compromised

The li-ion batteries will probably be supplied by Tesla Motors, giving the electric drive smart car a range of up to 150 miles, which sounds good for an urban commuter. This might not be able for the US market in the eyes of Daimler, though… We’ll have to see.

Even though we knew it was coming, we’re still excited that this little all-electric wonder finally made the jump across the pond. According to the smart rep we talked to, no one here in the US will be behind the wheel of one of these until 2010 or 2011, when 1,000 smart eds will be brought over for testing – much like they are being used in places like the UK and Italy.

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