Daimler has confirmed that the series build of its new second-generation smart fortwo electric drive models will begin in mid-November at the smart factory in Hambach, France. While it won't be offered to the general public until 2012, this zero-emissions electric vehicle (EV) version will undergo relatively large-scale evaluation in the hands of lease customers in Berlin and various other cities in Germany, France, Italy and Spain as well as designated -- but currently unidentified -- locations here in America starting in late 2009.

Like its conventional cousin, the new fortwo electric drive sends power to the rear wheels, in this case motive force supplied by a 30-kilowatt (40-horsepower) electric motor that makes 120 Newtonmeters (88.5 lb.-ft.) of torque. That's sufficient mini-muscle to keep it on pace with the gas-engine fortwo up to its governed top speed of 62 mph. The motor is fed by a 14 kilowatt-hour Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack supplied by Tesla Motors and Daimler says it will provide about a 115 km (71.5 miles) range. Although a full recharge will require plugging into a 220-volt outlet overnight, a three-hour zap session can provide a 30-40 km (20-25 mile) driving window that Daimer claims will be sufficient to cover most urban users needs. Preliminary leasing terms for the smart fortwo electric drive call a 4-year/60,000 kilometer (37,280 mile) agreement, although no dollar amount has been confirmed as yet.

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