New smart Electric Drive Could Be U.S. Bound

By Editors on October 9, 2008 11:53 AM
Following a year of successful testing with its first-generation model in England and a new round of real-world evaluations with the Gen II version underway in Germany comes word that the latest version of the smart Electric Drive fortwo may ultimately find its way to America as more than just a test-fleet experiment. Smart's parent company, Daimler AG, is exhibiting the latest incarnation of its diminutive city car at the Paris Auto Salon where several executives indicated that a plug-in version could be added to the current fortwo lineup here as well. At the very least, a small number of these zero-emission urborunners will be heading our way for evaluation purposes. However, after a flurry of Internet rumors to the contrary, a smart spokesperson told that nothing has been determined beyond that point. But if a U.S. program does get the green light, 2012 seems to be the most realistic intro date. By that time, even this newest electric fortwo package may have undergone further evolution.

The smart ED shown in Paris is slated to enter a limited series production in Europe at the end of 2009. This iteration is powered by a Zytek-designed 40-horsepower electric motor fed by a new-design lithium-ion battery with a projected 10-year maximum service life. Other vital stats include a 70-mile range, a top speed of about 70 mph and an electric "refilling" time of about four hours for an 80-percent charge and eight hours for a complete top-up when plugged into a standard Euro-spec 230V outlet.

Last month, Daimler began testing 100 of these new smart EDs in Berlin with the assistance of German electric utility provider RWE AG. RWE is installing 500 charging stations throughout the city, and Daimler has installed onboard computers on the test cars that can "talk" to these chargers to help ensure that the battery is automatically charged when the network is in off-peak mode and electricity is at its lowest per-unit price.