Following UK trials of the smart fortwo electric drive (ed), smart’s parent company, Daimler AG, has confirmed that the car will go into small series production, with cars coming to the UK in early 2010.
The company says that it has decided to build the car after reaction from customers taking part in the UK trial, including the Metropolitan Police, universities, local councils, architects and energy companies.
The second generation smart electric drive will also be taking part in projects in Rome, Milan and Paris. Several cities in the US are also due to start trials of the electric car and the feedback will be incorporated into the development of future production models.
Featuring a lithium-ion battery the second generation smart electric drive’s power source will have a longer range, boast a shorter charging time and will give improved performance.
A UK market trial of 100 cars started in December 2007 with fleet customers. The trial lasts for 4 years and customers are leasing the vehicles at a monthly cost of £375.
The smart ed burns no fossil fuels and drivers can expect to achieve the equivalent of around 300 mpg from running the vehicle. The battery is maintenance free and depending on use can last up to 10 years.
The smart ed retains all the safety equipment you would find on a regular smart such as ESP, ABS brakes, two airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners, as well as the NCAP tested Tridion safety cell.
Its 30kW electric motor, with just one gear, can reach 30 mph in 6.5 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 60 mph.
It has its own charger on board which means that it can be plugged directly into any UK mains 3 pin plug socket to recharge.
As a company car the smart ed brings big benefits. Electric vehicles currently get a preferential tax rate of 9% and in the case of the ed, fuel scale charges are dramatically reduced as no petrol is provided and the provision of free electricity by the employer to the employee is not treated as benefit in kind. And employees choosing the smart ed as a company car can enjoy a notional taxable value of just £13,750.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see manufacturers like smart leading the way to make the electric vehicle an easy choice for Londoners. The move to electric vehicles, which emit zero pollution on London’s streets, will have a massive impact on cutting carbon emissions to curb climate change whilst improving air quality and noise levels for our citizens.”
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s director of transport, said: “The Mayor and I are working with manufacturers through the London Electric Vehicle Partnership and urge the entire car industry to invest in this technology. Not only can we create green collar jobs but also smooth the way for less polluting transport choices which will improve our air quality, reduce traffic noise and contribute significantly to the Mayor’s ambitious carbon emissions reduction target.”
Dermot Kelly, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz UK, said: “smart have been leading the way in pioneering environmentally friendly, sustainable concepts for future mobility and we’re delighted that the UK trial is proving to be so successful. The smart electric drive is exempt from vehicle excise duty and the London congestion charge and this, underlined with incredibly low operating costs, means that companies taking part in the trial are finding it makes perfect fiscal sense.”
Review of the Smart fortwo Diesel with 799cc 45 bhp Pure engine