Daimler’s Smart brand is clearly plugging into battery power. The maker’s new ED – short for Electric Drive – has just gone on sale here in the U.S. And at the Geneva Motor Show, next week, Smart will offer a hint of where it might plan to take the technology going forward.
The intriguing news is that the Smart ForSpeed puts as much of a premium on performance as it does on energy efficiency. The lithium-ion-powered two-seater reportedly can launch from 0 to 60 (kilometers an hour, that is) in just 5.5 seconds. Getting to 60 mph takes just under 9 seconds.
The concept relies on a compact 41-horsepower electric motor. That might not seem like much but it helps to realize that electric propulsion generates maximum torque the moment the motor starts spinning. But there’s also a “boost” switch on the center console that unleashes an extra 7 horsepower when you’re really hoping to burn rubber.
Smart anticipates a top speed of 75 mph for the ForSpeed and, if you’re a bit less aggressive with the throttle, range of about 85 miles. A quick charger, it claims, can yield an 80% recharge in as little as 45 minutes.
The ultra-thin seats come with four-point belts to keep you firmly in place when you’re challenging that old-style muscle car in the next lane, by the way.
The interior is an otherwise minimalist design, but for the leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob and door pulls. There are no exterior door handles, by the way, on this open-top concept, which suggests Smart doesn’t actually plan production anytime soon. But considering the need to speed up sales – Daimler seems to be looking at ways to add a little excitement to the otherwise utilitarian Smart brand, which means some of the ForSpeed’s features could migrate to more mainstream models.
The maker is planning a significant update of its line-up in 2014, and has partnered with Renault for help. More broadly, Daimler has decided to more closely integrate the Smart brand with its flagship Mercedes-Benz marque. Among other things, that has resulted in the decision to pull U.S. distribution away from Roger Penske’s Penske Auto Group and turn it over to Mercedes-Benz USA. (Click Here for more on that story.)
Tags: Geneva Motor Show, Smart ED, auto news, battery cars, car news, electric vehicles, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, smart cars, smart electric drive, smart forspeed, smart fortwo, smart geneva, smart news, smart reviews, thedetroitbureau