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smart fortwo electric drive heads to North America


June 15, 2010

smart fortwo electric drive heads for U.S. and Canada

smart fortwo electric drive heads for U.S. and Canada

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Daimler has announced that its smart fortwo electric drive will cross the Atlantic later this year. The tiny two seater, which has a rear mounted 30 kW electric motor producing 120 Nm of torque, a range of 100 km to 135 km and can be parked pretty much anywhere, is slated to reach cities in USA and Canada in Q3.

The first generation smart fortwo electric drive has been in operation on London streets since 2007 and the current second-gen model (which has a lithium-ion battery developed by Tesla Motors Inc. as opposed to the original sodium-nickel-chloride power pack) rolled off the production line in November last year. Since then Daimler has increased production volume from 1000 to 1500 vehicles.

The electric version of the fortwo doesn't give much away to its combustion-engined siblings. The battery pack is placed underfloor between the axles where the tank is located in other smart models so there's just as much luggage space (which is never going to be massive on a vehicle that's 2.5 m long). On the performance side, top speed has been limited to 100 km/h and the EV matches the acceleration of the combustion engine (0 - 60 km/h in 6.5 seconds), even beating it off the mark. According to one of the participants in the London trial, "You can beat anything at the lights".

The equipment spec for the electric drive is based on the smart fortwo coupé/cabrio with automatic temperature control and pre-air conditioning, electric power steering, electric windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, a two-spoke leather steering wheel, leather gear knob and 12-spoke alloy wheels (painted green on the EV) all standard.

The car's 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery developed is charged overnight via a 220 Volt socket and at city speeds of 25 - 30 km/h, Daimler says the fortwo electric drive can cope with four to five hours of continuous use on a full-charge. The lithium-ion battery also enables a cold start at minus 25 degrees Celsius - another advantage over sodium-nickel-chloride predecessor which required. An onboard battery management system monitors voltage, electricity and temperature and keeps the battery from overloading.

The electric motor has a 20 kW output and a peak power output of 30 kW for approximately 2 minutes in "kickdown" mode, there's no gears (for reverse the engine's direction of rotation changes), low maintenance, low running costs and zero-local-emissions.

Daimler plans to produce the smart fortwo electric drive in larger volumes from 2012 and will expand its distribution up to 40 markets. The third-gen will feature a battery developed by Daimler and Evonik.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted Gizmag.com in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007. All articles by Noel McKeegan

Now this is a SMART car! A zero emission commuter car that you can drive around in pretty well all day. Does anyone know what the price will be?

Lawrence Weisdorn

An electric car is not a zero emission car. Because of mechanical and electrical losses along the way, the power plant must conservatively burn three gallons of fuel for you to obtain the equivalent of one gallon of energy for your vehicle. That triples the use of fossil fuels for a non-nuclear or non-hydroelectric powerplant, causing even more pollution than if an efficient automobile were to just use the same fuel itself.

Feel-good solutions like electric automobiles serve only to reveal the tragically failed reasoning we are indoctrinated to accept today. How about we really work on solving the problem?

Rockin Robbins

Rockin robbins you are way off. An EV goes 3-6x\'s as far on the same base fuel as an ICE. From a NG cogen powerplant an EV will go 6x\'s as far as a NG or gasoline, diesel car can go.

I drive a 600mpg equivalent and a 250mpge EV\'s that cost 25% to run vs a similar ICE. The fact I can go downtown and back for $.30 for 30 miles proves the low running costs, high eff of EV\'s. Deal with it.

Google part throttle eff, ect and you\'ll find gas cars only are 7% eff of their fuel while EV\'s are 20-65% eff from their base fuels. And in our energy expensive, short future, that will win. Plus driving EV\'s is so cool in so many ways.


Rockin Robbins...you are right of course.

However it\'s all about money ie TAX. Cannot replace fuel Tax from the home power. Sooooo, hydrogen fuel is what they will replace petrol with. Same service station (gas station) controlled by the same companies etc. The Government still gets it\'s Tax....wait more tax because...yes...it\'s feel good green. The sooner the better .Why the WEST has not done so years ago beats me..on security issues alone, let a lone the stink and pollution.


---Rockin Robbins---

Your first point is absolutely correct. An electric car is not a zero emission vehicle. Unless the power is generated by wind, solar, hydro or nuclear, the power source must produce some atmospheric emissions.

As an experienced engineer, however, I\'m afraid most of your following comments leave me bewildered. Perhaps you can enlighten me. Where on earth did you get the idea that centrally generated electricity is less efficient that burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine? And where did that 3 gallons to 1 gallon fantasy come from? Sources, please. (And Talk Radio Show Hosts do not count...)

The generation and distribution of AC power is one of the most efficient means of power production ever devised. George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and Charles Steinmetz were freakishly brilliant and well ahead of their time.

Lets look at your \'mechanical and electrical losses along the way\'; Stationary power plants are significantly more efficient than autos. Gas turbines are at least twice as efficient as an automobile engine. (A gasoline internal combustion engine used in an automobile is typically only 20% to 40% efficient. That\'s an 80% to 60% loss, with most losses appearing as heat due to the inherent conflict of the carnot cycle.)

Electrical transmission losses? In 2007 the average electrical power transfer efficiency for the entire US grid was 94.5%. That\'s an average loss of only 6.5%

Your Petroleum Industry inspired arguments have routinely appeared quoted as fact and have just as routinely been debunked as myth over the past 50 years.

I find myself agreeing with you on your quote about blindly accepting \'tragically failed reasoning we are indoctrinated to accept today\'. I wonder if the arguments you present fall squarely within that definition.

I\'ve been waiting patiently for widely available electric cars since I first saw one in the early \'70\'s. I realize they aren\'t practical for everyone, but I suspect that they are a lot more practical for a lot more people than most believe.


So the solution to our excessive fuel usage is to make a car, that can\'t be by the people who drive 90% of the miles in this country. Anyone who can use this could probably get by with a moped for a fraction of the cost.

Michael Mantion

Michael Mantion -- You might be right if you don\'t mind riding a moped in the rain, bitter cold or heat. Also, while a smart car is not a tank, I would rather be in one of them than a moped during an accident if I had a choice between the two. Yeah, mopeds would work better for limited situations, I\'ll give you that.

Facebook User

While I appreciate the idea of electricity powering cars. There are a couple of areas that I need further information on.

1) Does an electric vehicle with a range of 100km have the same power ability when it\'s travelled say 85km, as it does when the battery is fresh? Going by other battery usage, the gradual drop off of power could actually be dangerous in driving conditions.

2) Would it not pay to have a \"reserve\" battery for the times (as most folks do with petrol/gas) to be able to reach one\'s destination?

Personally, I like the idea of fuel cells for personal transportation needs d;-)


Which is easier to filter pollutants from a powerplant or 1,000 cars dispersed widly over a city? I would think the power plant would be a simpler option.

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