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.