Vital Stats

Engine:
Electric Magneto Motor
Power:
74 hp; 96 lb-ft of torque
Transmission:
Single Gear
0-60 Time:
11.5 Seconds
Top Speed:
78 MPH
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
TBD
Seating:
2
Cargo:
45.4 CU-FT
MPG:
TBD
Little Daimler Child Finally Nails It With Electrons



Since the official launch of the Smart Fortwo in October 1998, the little company within Daimler has never made a profit. Far from it. Not for lack of trying, certainly. Many of us know well the story of myriad attempts to force the world to adopt the Smart way of living in the automotive sense, only to have the various chapters conclude in a disillusioning crash and financial burn.

Smart is still trying desperately to find its proper path as a global player that sells rather well – and not just in London and a few Italian and German cities. They insist that China is the great frontier nowadays for the Fortwo in all of its trims, and they still want to figure out North America.

Is electricity the only way to force the breakthrough? We drove the previous generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive a couple of years ago and had an amazingly good time at it. The punch for traffic holeshots was addictive, and the size of the trinket-on-wheels is ideal for big-shouldered cities – this cannot be debated no matter your personal feelings about the car.

But whereas the Germans and Roger Penske firmly believed that crisis-stricken Americans would come in droves to the Smart dealer, begging for a Fortwo of any type given the model's efficiencies, Americans never made the transition of seeing the Fortwo as anything but a purchase for when you have spare change lying around and want a third toy in the garage. And young buyers who can only afford a single vehicle generally want that car to have luggage space and four seats. A more reasonable bang for buck doesn't hurt either.

Seeing as electric vehicles are slowly convincing us (very slowly) that there's some sense in their costing more than traditional-engine cars, Smart sees this as a big opportunity to offer something that still has an inflated price and more premium early adopter lifestyle aura. We have our significant doubts about all of this working, but let's get on with the drive.
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive side view2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive front view2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive rear view

This new plug-in electricity-fueled ForTwo has a constant cruising output of 47 hp and a peaky max output of 74 hp. It's tangibly twice the car.

Smart had us in Berlin recently (U.S. drives are taking place now) for the first drive of the third generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. A "generation" in electric car terms is more frequently a sign of a significantly updated powertrain and not a dramatically changed exterior, so these e-generations last about two years, three at most.

The damned thing really works well now, clearly even better than before, and we want this exact Smart Fortwo to sell and lease like nuts on a tree.

Compared to the last version we used to slalom around New York City's finest potholes (which was rated at 27 horsepower constant output and 40 hp maximum output), this new plug-in electricity-fueled ForTwo has a constant cruising output of 47 hp and a peaky max output of 74 hp. It's tangibly twice the car. Acceleration to 37 mph (i.e. 60 kmh) was 6.5 seconds, but is now 4.8 seconds. The shocker stat, though, is acceleration to 62 mph (100 kmh): it was 26.7 seconds for the prior car. Stop laughing; Now the time is down to an actually useful and comparatively spirited 11.5 seconds. V-max arrives at a tick over 78 mph.

2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive wheel2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive door handle2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive charging2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive badge

The single best part is that the reviled automated transmission made (in)famous by the gas-powered model is not present.

The single best part regarding one's interface with the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is that the reviled automated transmission made (in)famous by the gas-powered model is not present. This is a huge difference, in that its absence could make anyone at all really like the car, whereas the five-speed (previously six) automated manual with paddles frequently drove potential customers away and set off so many auto journalists. (We'll settle down now.)

The new single-ratio transmission is much lighter and compact than the one used on the previous-generation electric Fortwo. The 9.922:1 gear ratio smoothly delivers the hotter acceleration via the 96 pound-feet of torque from the new electric motor.

Ninety-three lithium ion battery cells, created by Daimler partner Li-Tec, are laid flat under the floor with particular automotive requirements in mind. The primary benefit of the new design is that the electric powertrain can function well anywhere between -50°F and 176°F. The possible range from a full charge of the 17.6-kilowatt hour pack is 90 miles, and a full recharge, which never happens to a typical owner or lessee, would need seven hours from a 13-amp 220-volt plug or six hours from a 16-amp plug. There is no DC quick charge option. Alas.

2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive interior2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive auxiliary gauges2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive shifter2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive app

In Europe, customers can choose to buy only the car while essentially renting the battery under a separate contract.

This new Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is expected to debut at next month's LA Auto Show with deliveries starting in the spring. Pricing for the coupe is set at $25,000 and $28,000 for the open-top, so U.S. customers will finally be able to buy/finance the car outright and not just lease it or use one occasionally through the subscription Car2go program in limited markets. That latter program will continue – and is actually set to expand to many more U.S. cities – but shoppers can now also decide to buy or lease.

Europeans get a new program for buying or leasing called "Sale&Care," under which customers can choose to buy only the car while essentially renting the battery under a separate contract. One of the key concerns that have come up for buyers is worries over the battery pack should anything go wrong. And should battery technology evolve to a new and better level from Daimler's joint venture Deutsche ACCUmotive, then owners can, with advance notice, switch their contract to the new battery pack without any change in the terms or rates of the contract. It gets as detailed and complicated as you might imagine, but it eventually made sense to us after speaking with experts on hand in Berlin. The point is that Smart wants both to remove any anxiety regarding one's commitment to the e-car life while also seeking to make the battery packs as ecological a technology as possible, in part by allowing them to be easily switched, recycled, upgraded, etc. In the U.S., given the legal difficulty in leasing just the battery while selling the car and given the new Fortwo Electric Drive's lower price, the battery is included with the sale or lease of the car.



With the weight of the car down low, the drive was incredibly stable and without any rattles or mechanical whining.

As stated already, the drive is spot-on for this configuration of car. On the capable low-resistance Kumho Ecsta RH11 tires (155/60 R15 74T on all corners) and with the weight of the car down low because of the battery packs under the floor, the drive was incredibly stable and without any rattles or mechanical whining. Smart has already developed a basic exterior sound that the car emits in markets where this is or will be the law for electric vehicles. The electro-hum is nowhere near as present an ingredient as on the Fisker Karma, to cite one example, but is noticeable for those pedestrians who need to hear it.

2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive rear 3/4 view

Besides this latest and most convincing electric Smart Fortwo, the company is committing to the ebike and escooter for the US.

Using available Smart apps that are downloadable on your smartphone (happy naming coincidence, eh?), customers can monitor every aspect of life with their Fortwo Electric Drive. There is the service that not only shows where you parked your car and relays any theft alarm that may occur, but you can also reserve a perfect parking spot (frequently with charge station) in the center of town at your preferred parking structure. You can also follow the state of recharge as your car is plugged in and you're off galavanting.

Besides this latest and most convincing electric Smart Fortwo, the company is committing to launching an e-bike and e-scooter for the United States – all on sale/lease together here by the middle of 2014.

Will this be the long awaited turning point for Smart? We honestly hope so; rooting for Smart has been like rooting for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series again: exhausting.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 96 Comments
      rjstanford
      • 2 Years Ago
      The smart makes far more sense as an electric car. Its never (rarely) going to be someone's choice for a long road-trip, but is perfectly reasonable in-town (I'm a Car2Go member in Austin). And you're right - the driving experience even in the gas model is quite surprisingly good - except for that hideous transmission. Making it faster, more efficient, and losing the shift madness, all for not much more money, can't be a bad decision.
      Mart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Finally approaching what Swatch had originally envisioned when they approached Mercedes. It's about time.
      ilmhmtu
      • 2 Years Ago
      This car is a lot SMART-er than the gas version and almost the same price after the tax credit. Smart should only sell the EV's here.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ilmhmtu
        [blocked]
      scionxd48
      • 2 Years Ago
      Definitely makes sense, since the gas version is just an overpriced golf cart to start with. With electric power, and the price after government incentive, it's finally got the chance to be a viable urban runabout.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @scionxd48
        [blocked]
      American Refugee
      • 2 Years Ago
      This car would fill 100% of my automotive needs, the previous generation is a blast to drive, and it's quite tempting for me. But the reason I probably won't buy one? There's a (previous generation) ForTwo ED sitting in front of my apartment with the words "Car2go" written down the side. As every good church girl learns in Sunday School, boys rarely buy the cow when they can get the milk for (almost) free. This vehicle may make as close as possible to the perfect business case for me to buy a car, and I still can't see how it makes any sense to be making a monthly payment when our entire Car2go bill is less, including insurance and electricity. Car sharing, public transport, and the bicycle may have permanently killed car ownership for me, and that makes me sad because I love cars.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @American Refugee
        Consider yourself lucky to have such good public transportation and car sharing options available to you!
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @American Refugee
        Why would car sharing be cheaper? Have you actually worked out the numbers?
          American Refugee
          • 2 Years Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Of course. We run a Car2go bill of 75-150 euro a month. The payment alone on this vehicle would be considerably higher then that, not to mention insurance, electricity, and the very considerable road tax and parking permit costs here in Amsterdam. Plus there is currently a waiting list of nearly two years for a street parking permit in our neighborhood, so we would have to rent parking until then. So, yeah, no.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      This car seems to have, subject to experience in actual use or third party tests, one of the finest batteries on the market: They claim a life of up to 400,000 km, 250,000 miles: http://theirearth.com/index.php/news/daimler-ag-and-evonik-industries-lithium-ion-jv A couple of folk here have argued that this refers only to it's use in a hybrid, but if so it is difficult to explain their claim of 4 times the life of some other batteries. In any case they have at least got the confidence to guarantee the leased version of their battery to 80% capacity for 10 years, in contrast to Renault's 75%: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/smart/fortwo/35680/smart-fortwo-ev-details Part of that confidence is due to their highly specified cooling system: http://www.daimler.com/dccom/0-5-1200805-1-1401041-1-0-0-1201138-0-0-135-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.html 'Thanks to its powerful cooling system and intelligent temperature management, the lithium-ion battery from Daimler constantly operates within the optimum temperature range of between 15 and 35 degrees Celsius. This ensures reliability independent of climatic conditions, along with full efficiency and excellent cold-starting behavior throughout the battery’s service life.' This is around 59-95 Fahrenheit, less at the top than the 104F of the Volt, let alone the Leaf. I would buy this car. The Leaf I would only lease.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      We don't have EPA rated range numbers yet, do we? I'm guessing it will be around 70 miles or so. It is a small battery but it is a light car.
      Bob Ward
      • 1 Year Ago
      THEY WOULD MAKE A GREAT 2ND CAR FOR CITY DRIVING & SHORT TRIPS WORK & ETC. I WOULD BUY ONE IN A MINUTE OR LEASE. BOB.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        I can't fit my entire family in a Porsche 911. Thus is a totally useless crap car! /Sarcasm
        American Refugee
        • 2 Years Ago
        Rick, please buy an SUV, since because of rollover accidents, they are quite dangerous, and well, we just don't need you around any more good buddy.
        raughle1
        • 2 Years Ago
        Rick, you clearly are in the market for a large family car. I'm sorry but you seem to have stumbled onto a story about a small city car. Feel free to browse but you may want to withhold your comments until you get your bearings.
        dallifornia
        • 2 Years Ago
        You do not sound like their target demographic. In what universe would this revision have meant improved crash protection, or more seating for an entire family? Go buy a Focus.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        If more people bought them. the statistical likelihood of you being crushed by two giant trucks would be lower. America really needs to stop using huge oversized cars as daily transport. We use 3-4 times more gasoline per capita than most countries.
          American Refugee
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          SVX, #121 on your list is, as of last year, the largest new car market in the world, bigger then the US and Japan combined. Which kind of undermines your point.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          [blocked]
        purrpullberra
        • 2 Years Ago
        Do you acknowledge that other people exist and that they are different than you, Rick? Because you're not acting like it. Plus, you lack the intelligence to see things from other points-of-view. Wow, sucks to be you. You are well trained at spewing tired and false excuses but why sound so butt sore?
        Rob J
        • 2 Years Ago
        Well if you don't need it, NOBODY should need it. Maybe get your noggin out of your posterior and realize that you are not representing the silent majority.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ Rick, (aghast)...you....you...you've been allowed to breed ?
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        Rick: Good luck transporting your family on the bicycle you keep banging on about.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        paulwesterberg
        • 2 Years Ago
        $25 for the hardtop which means it should be just $17.5k after tax credit. State rebates could further lower the cost. Which sounds pretty affordable, but that's not all, you also save $1-2k per year on gas with additional savings by avoiding oil changes, muffler repair and brake service. It could have the lowest cost total cost of ownership of any vehicle on the market.
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          The federal tax credit is not an automatic $7.5K. It's an available credit up to $7.5K. It operates in the same way as most tax credits do, in that the amount of the credit is limited to the amount of the gross income tax liability. Whatsmore, if you lease a car such as this, the tax credit is claimed by the lessor and usually factored into forming a credit on the cost of the lease itself.
          pavsterrocks
          • 2 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          Tax credit or tax deduction? Latter means you are subtracting from your gross income, reducing your tax by that amount times your tax bracket (a fraction).
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
          krona2k
          • 2 Years Ago
          This guy is a British I'm saddened to inform you, being a Brit myself.
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          I don't believe Rick is British. I do believe he's an American pretending to be British. His remarks about the automotive climate in Britain are questionable at best, and often downright incorrect.
          tump
          • 2 Years Ago
          Oh please with the stupid comments. American have elevated ignorance to a goddamned art form. Embarrassing.
      NY EVO X MR GUY
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow.....these rolling death-traps are now electric. First off, they should be banned from highways because if you crash in one of these, you will get crippled. Secondly, you can buy cars that get great gas mileage for thousands less. Plus, they have more cargo space and seating for four people. They are also safer cars. Trust me, if I were to pick a car to be in a car accident in, it would not be this one. Your life is worth more than being in a cramped car. At best, this is a car that should only be on 30-40 mph roads.
        Jeff
        • 2 Years Ago
        @NY EVO X MR GUY
        You obviously know NOTHING about the safety of thus car....
          NY EVO X MR GUY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jeff
          @ Jeff Sadly, you know nothing about sentence structure. It is physics. Basic physics. Not a safe car. Period.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @NY EVO X MR GUY
        [blocked]
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          So should people that don't have as much money as you be banned from the roads?
          NY EVO X MR GUY
          • 2 Years Ago
          Try a real test. Evo tv on youtube. You're yet another masses that use opinion over fact. I have multiple cars. How about you ride a bike? Its just as safe.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @NY EVO X MR GUY
        Should we ban motorcycles too? How about boxing and pro football, should we ban them?
          NY EVO X MR GUY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Extremes. You named sports. It is not related to a car. Typical ,unrelated, banter. No one argues points, they can only come up with extremes that are not related and/or relevant. "as much money as me". I guess you did not read anything I said. This car is expensive and dangerous. For less money, there are far better and safer options. Lack of points in these futile responses.
        Neutral President
        • 2 Years Ago
        @NY EVO X MR GUY
        I've been driving my 2005 smart fortwo cdi for over seven years now, putting over 100,000 miles on it on Canadian and American roads and *gasp* highways! And i'm still alive to tell the tale. I never understand why people view getting in an accident as a foregone conclusion. If anything, this car has made me a far better driver, anticipating what's coming down the road and being much more aware of my surroundings. For example, last winter, on my way home from a road trip to Ohio, the bed liner blew out of a pickup truck about a mile ahead of me. It was nighttime, and windy, and i didn't see it until it was literally in my headlights. A quick avoidance manoeuvre at 75 mph saved me from some potentially major damage, and the car's stability control and wide stance kept me from spinning or rolling. I can appreciate the car not being for everyone. That's fine. But it's been a great little car that has served me well.
          optometriceye
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Neutral President
          Same here. My 2009 smart cabrio (63,000+ miles) IS my car of choice. I drive it every chance i get. Since i have a family of five including myself, it is mainly my commuting/errands car. Originally I bought the hardtop during the "clunker for cash" program where I traded in both my 1992 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer and 2003 Mercedes C320 4-Matic. A few months later I traded it in for the cabrio. Now, i can't wait to trade it for the electric drive! As far as the jerky gear shifting--doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, I may miss this oddity when i go electric.
        Koenigsegg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @NY EVO X MR GUY
        your a dumbass and you should be taken off this planet, bye
      gary
      • 2 Years Ago
      At ~$17500 after government rebate, and with an operating expense presumable considerably less than the gas version, this actually starts to make sense as an urban run-about.
        KaiserWilhelm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gary
        Exactly, this is the perfect city car.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @KaiserWilhelm
          [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gary
        [blocked]
          Vlad
          • 2 Years Ago
          a) US sells notes and bonds on the open market to a highest bidder. It never borrowed a cent from China specifically. b) China is not buying more US bonds. It is in fact reducing its holdings of the US debt. c) 47% of the 16 trillions is held by Federal Reserve and other federal agencies. Further 11% is owned by state and local governments within the US. But please, proceed with the talking points, preferably in caps lock.
          gary
          • 2 Years Ago
          I don't agree with the $7500 federal rebate, but it's there and part of the calculation for the consumer.
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
        s tom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gary
        God, it pisses me off that taxpayers have to pick up over 1/3 of the price of people's toys.
          icemilkcoffee
          • 2 Years Ago
          @s tom
          Yeah me too- I\'m outraged that Mitt Romney is allowed to deduct $70,000 for his dancing horse.
          purrpullberra
          • 2 Years Ago
          @s tom
          Do you know what else you subsidize with 'your' taxes? Oil production? Religious 'charity'? Yeah, its pure intelligence to hate THIS! you are s tupid s tom,IMO.
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