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The smart for-us electric pick-up breaks cover in Detroit

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January 9, 2012

The smart for-us concept electric vehicle

The smart for-us concept electric vehicle

Image Gallery (12 images)

Just last month, the designers at smart decided to tease us by releasing some sketches of a concept electric vehicle that they had actually created, known as the for-us. While the front of the vehicle looked quite a bit like the existing fortwo, the Subaru Brat-like mini rear cargo bed definitely gave it a unique car-truck-combo appeal ... or repulsion, depending on the observer. Well, with the start of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2012 this week in Detroit, the curious need no longer wonder what the actual vehicle might look like, as it is proudly out on display.

The for-us is a little larger than the fortwo. Specifically, it's 613 mm (24 in) longer, and 50 mm (1.9 in) wider on each side. Its suspension has also been raised by 50 mm, suggesting the possibility of light multi-terrain use. This is backed up by the inclusion of Michelin off-road tires, and smart's suggestion that a future version of the car could have four wheel drive - in the form of the addition of two front wheel hub motors.

The smart for-us concept electric vehicle

In its current form, the for-us features an electric drive system based on the one that will appear on the fortwo electric, when it becomes available to consumers later this year. At its heart is a 55 kW magneto-electric motor, powered by a 17.6 kWh-capacity lithium-ion battery pack. The motor produces a claimed 130 Newton meters (95.88 ft lbs) of torque, with lag-free acceleration and a top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h). The battery requires eight hours to charge from empty, and the company hasn't provided any range estimates.

Other features, as mentioned in our previous coverage, include a console-mounted smartphone holder that works with a linked rearview video camera, and a powered retracting tailboard that provides easy access to the 900-mm (3-foot) cargo bed. That bed is designed specifically for carrying two smart e-bikes, to the point that it even has a docking station for their batteries.

The smart for-us concept electric vehicle interior

The bikes would serve as range-extenders, both in that they could be ridden past the point that the car could go, and their charged-up batteries would be available to power the car for a few more miles, if the need arose.

There's still no word on whether or not we'll ever be able to buy a for-us for ourselves. Is it something that you could picture yourself driving?

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
8 Comments

a winner in Europe but doubtful in the USA.

robinyatesuk2003
10th January, 2012 @ 02:17 am PST

I absolutely love it . light off-road , electric , cabrio , pickup - has all the point I love in a city car .

unfortunately it will cost way too much - so it'll stay a fancy concept , gathering fans and dust - while chinese and indian carmakers get knowledge , experience , lots of miles , infrastucture and profit .

Károly Hőss
10th January, 2012 @ 03:45 am PST

I like the concept but there are two knocks- 1. Pure electric? I hope we only want to short day trips to powered campgrounds. Then again, maybe they are thinking of the RV crowd. 2. Unless we all move to SoCal, it needs a roof and cover for the back end. Additionally, since I've already spent a few thousand on my bicycles, I really doubt I buy the Smart e-bikes. Back to the drawing board fellas. Maybe a smart diesel hybrid?

Jeff Bequette
10th January, 2012 @ 09:19 am PST

I would buy one, this is exactly what i'm after.

Ideally it has a good range also? (none stated)

I like the idea of being able to drop a petrol range extender in the back if required.

however I doubt I would need it.

Love the style.

love the tray back.

when can I buy one?

Develocon
10th January, 2012 @ 08:36 pm PST

Why would anyone buy this tinker-toy? First, most likely the on-highway usage would probably be less than 40 miles, while the off-roading mileage will be around 15 miles...even less if you're driving in soft sand, or mud! This thing will get you far enough in the bush to die...then what will you do? Solar panels will take years to charge this back up again!

And this thing is ugly! Look at that profile! Which way is the front?

And that steering wheel? who would use something like that? Come on designers...give us something we would actually use!

This thing looks like an aborted Fiat 500!

Ed
10th January, 2012 @ 10:08 pm PST

I love this. Perfect for the city, but I've got to agree with others who think it should be a hybrid/diesel. If its top speed is 120 mph, its range is what -- ten miles? The electric bikes as "range extenders?" It's not like you can use them to go get gas when you run out of juice. Raising them up off the ground is smart - most of the mini concepts I've seen on these pages would get killed by potholes and LA's notorious "dips" used for water runoff. Hybridize it or small diesel and I'm there!

dsiple
11th January, 2012 @ 10:48 am PST

actually adding a Stirling steam engine would be a better way of getting power in this size vehicle. Also much more fuel efficient as you could use solar.

Hilary Albutt
12th January, 2012 @ 12:53 am PST

I am a third vote for hybrid of adding a very small diesel. I love the efficiency of diesel!

Will, the tink
16th January, 2012 @ 01:43 pm PST
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