Calling it “a natural next step,” Smart (owned by Daimler) has announced more details about the new smart fortwo electric drive, which will go on sale in the US in spring 2013.
According to the company, the possibility of an electric drivetrain was part of the smart concept from the beginning, so the electric version has the same outside footprint (the smallest of any car on US roads) interior room and cargo space as the gas model. The battery fits right where the fuel tank would go, in the underfloor area between the front and rear wheels, and the electric motor replaces the legacy engine between the rear wheels.
In smart’s first electric drive pilot project in 2007, fleet operators tested 100 cars in downtown London. The test cars used high-temperature sodium-nickel-chloride batteries, and had a range of about 60 miles. The next generation, launched in 2009, used lithium-ion batteries and was tested with 2,000 cars in 18 markets around the world.
Now the electric smart is ready for the consumer market. Production began in June at the company’s factory in Hambach, France, and deliveries in Europe are scheduled to begin soon.
The tiny two-seater sports a 55 kW motor and a 17.6 kWh battery. Maximum speed is 125 kph, and range is approximately 145 km in city traffic. The US retail price is $25,000 for the Coupé and $28,000 for the Cabrio (convertible), making it the lowest-priced production EV available.