Earlier this week, Daimler launched production of the new generation Smart electric drive at the Hambach, France plant where all Smarts are built. The first stage of production will see the plant build a run of 1,000 of the battery-powered two seaters. The cars will be used in a variety of field test programs around the world beginning in the next few months.
Unlike the previous-generation electric Smart of which about 100 examples were built, the new model uses a lithium ion battery pack. The pack and charging system were developed and supplied by Tesla Motors. The Smart development program led Daimler to buy a nine percent stake in the California startup.
From 2012 onward, Smart is planning to produce an electric model as a part of the standard powertrain offerings for the ForTwo. The electric drive should finally resolve the biggest driveability issue of the Smart – the rough shifts of the automated manual transmission – and may make the ForTwo a far more viable option for drivers.