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Posts Tagged ‘Smart ED’

Smart Plugs In with Next-Gen Fortwo Electric Drive

Fifth-generation battery microcar to debut in Paris next week.

by on Sep.23, 2016

Smart's next-generation Fortwo Electric Drive, or ED for short, is coming to the Paris Motor Show.

The Smart brand has long struggled to find a niche for its pint-sized Fortwo city car. It may make a better case with the arrival of the next-generation Electric Drive.

All but identical to the latest, gas-powered Smart Fortwo that made its debut last year, the Electric Drive, or ED, will be available in both coupe and cabriolet configurations when it reaches the U.S. market next year.

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“The smart is the ideal city car, and with electric drive it becomes a little bit more perfect,” said Annette Winkler, the global Smart brand boss. (more…)

Smart to Offer Market’s Lowest-Priced EV

Compact size, compact price.

by on Oct.05, 2012

Smart adds a bigger battery to boost range and performance with the 2013 fortwo ED.

Why aren’t consumers getting charged up about battery cars? That’s the question a lot of folks have been asking as sales lag well behind earlier expectations.

Range is clearly a concern, motorists worrying about being able to go – with most models – less than 100 miles per charge. But the big issue appears to be price. Electric vehicles simply carry too steep a premium for many potential buyers.

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That’s something little Smart hopes to address when it introduces what it is billing as the lowest-priced battery vehicle coming to the U.S. market from a major manufacturer. The 2013 Smart fortwo ED – short for Electric Drive – will carry a base price of just $25,780. (Not including a $750 delivery charge.)

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3rd Generation Smart Electric Goes into Production

Price jumps sharply over original plans, however.

by on Jun.13, 2012

Production of the Smart ED launches at the maker's plant in Hambach, France.

Production of the third-generation Smart Electric Drive, or ED, has begun and buyers in Germany will soon be able to plug them into the nearest charging station.

But buyers will have to accept a sharp price increase, about 20% above what Smart officials had indicated just last autumn when they announced plans for the new battery car.  But the Gen-3 Smart ED will also get better performance and range than was originally planned.

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The new version of the 2-seater will initially launch in Germany but is expected to then roll out in 30 other markets, including North America.

Just last September, Smart CEO Annette Winkler had indicated, “We are offering the new electric smart within our sale&care model for considerably less than EUR 16,000 before tax – plus less than EUR 60 per month for battery rental.”

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Smart Forvision Envisions a Better Microcar

Maker’s new 2-seater will be based on Renault technology.

by on Sep.19, 2011

The battery-powered Smart Forvision concept provides a hint of the next-generation Smart Fortwo.

Struggling Smart is offering up a vision of what could be the future of its two-seat Fortwo microcar.

The new Smart Forvision concept vehicle on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show is a long-delayed and much-needed replacement for a vehicle that has become increasingly outdated even as the competition floods the market with an assortment of hipper, more technically sophisticated alternatives.

The Forvision follows the unveiling of the earlier Fospeed cabriolet concept which was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.

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“We’ve used all the tricks in the book,” said Thomas Weber, a senior executive with Smart parent Daimler AG, during the prototype’s preview in Frankfurt.

That notably includes finding a partner to help develop the microcar.  In the decade since Smart launched Daimler has struggled to come up with a working business strategy for its smallest brand.  It has lost billions on Smart and abandoned all earlier models but the Fortwo.

The Smart Forvision concept makes extensive use of carbon-fiber-based composites.

Going forward, the new business case will call for partnering with the Euro-Asian Renault/Nissan alliance.  The partners have agreed to a variety of joint ventures, as TheDetroitBureau.com reported last week.  (Click Here for more.) Among other things, the new Mercedes AMF platform used for the maker’s next-generation B-Class will serve as the foundation of a new Infiniti model based on the Etherea concept.  Meanwhile, Renault’s latest microcar “architecture,” developed for its little Twingo model , will be shared with future Smart models – including the Fortwo replacement.

In concept form, the Forvision introduces a variety of intriguing technologies for the microcar segment – many of them developed with the assistance of yet another partner, German chemical giant BASF.

Those include plastic wheels that weigh about 7.5 pounds less than even aluminum wheels.  A carbon-fiber epoxy resin was used for the passenger compartment and doors, meanwhile, reducing weight by 50% compared to steel and 30% versus aluminum.  But the composite material is even stronger than conventional materials and would improve passenger safety if put into production, Daimler officials suggested.

The Forvision was shown in battery car form, underscoring the brand’s interest in electric technology.  Some of the technologies shown in Frankfurt would prove particularly useful in the next-generation Smart Electric Drive, or ED.

For one thing, special insulation was used to reduce the power consumption of the Smart Forvision climate control system.  Using a heater in the winter can reduce range of battery-electric vehicles, like the current Smart ED or Nissan Leaf, by as much as half.

How much of the Forvision concept will carry over into production remains to be seen.  The lightweight resin materials will be a challenge considering their costs – which normally limit the use of composites to ultra-luxury vehicles – but manufacturers are pressing hard to drive down costs and improve manufacturability.  BMW is betting on that as it prepares to launch its own battery-based sub-brand with models like the i3 and i8.

The all-new Smart is expected to reach showrooms sometime next year.

That’s none too soon for the little brand.  Sales have been in a sharp slump, especially in the key U.S. market, despite rising fuel prices.  Since its American introduction in 2008, sales are off by more than two-thirds and analysts remain skeptical whether even an updated version of the Smart Fortwo will reverse that decline.

 

Smart to Preview New Battery Car in Frankfurt

Maker will also unveil new battery-powered bicycle.

by on Aug.16, 2011

Smart adds range and boosts performance with the third-generation Fortwo Electric Drive.

Daimler’s troubled Smart car brand hopes to charge up consumers when it rolls out an all-new version of the Fortwo Electric Drive at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

Smart claims the third-generation battery drive system will deliver both better range and improved acceleration, trimming by 1.5 second the time needed to reach 60 kmh.  The newest version of the Fortwo Electric Drive is expected to go on sale in 30 markets – including North America – during the second quarter of 2012.  And Smart parent Daimler AG anticipates the improvements will yield a five-fold increase in sales compared to the outgoing battery car.

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Meanwhile, Smart has also announced it will move ahead with plans to diversify its line-up with the launch of a new “eBike.”

Smart initially launched a limited production version of the Fortwo ED last year.  But it received complaints about sluggish performance and limited range.  To overcome those concerns, the maker has shifted to a new version of the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery and revised the motor drive system, as well.

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First Look: Smart ForSpeed

Two-seater emphasizes green performance.

by on Feb.25, 2011

Who says you can't have fun driving a battery car? Smart ForSpeed puts a premium on performance.

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.

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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.

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Hertz To Rent Smart Electric Cars

Rental company planning a fleet of battery cars.

by on Dec.06, 2010

A Smart Electric Drive cruises New York.

Want to see if you can live with an electric vehicle? Your first step may be to check the fleet at your local Hertz rental office.  The nation’s largest daily rental company is charging into the emerging battery car market, and plans to add the new Smart Electric Drive model to its fleet, starting next week.

Hertz has already signed deals with a variety of other battery car makers, ranging from the start-up Coda to more established manufacturers that include Nissan, General Motors and Toyota.

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Industry experts are divided over the potential market for battery-electric vehicles, especially in the U.S., where so-called “range anxiety” is a factor for buyers used to being able to drive long distances whenever they want.  So, placing products in a rental fleet, like Hertz, can provide a way for potential buyers to try before they buy.

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Toyota May Supply EV Components To Daimler

Japanese maker hoping to raise cash, lower costs.

by on Sep.16, 2010

Will Toyota provide hybrid and other battery car components to Daimler for use in vehicles like the Smart Electric Drive?

Just days after announcing plans to show off a new battery car while adding a half-dozen new models to its hybrid line-up, Toyota Motor Co. reportedly plans to begin supplying battery-based components to its erstwhile rival, Daimler AG.

It would be the latest in a string of growing partnerships the two manufacturers individually have launched as they both move forward with the electrification of their various product lines.

According to a report in the Thursday evening Nikkei, Japan’s daily business paper, Daimler and Toyota also hope to begin cooperating on the development of hydrogen fuel cells, technology that many advocates hail as the ultimate form of clean powertrain technology.

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While Toyota declined to confirm the Nikkei report, it has issued a statement saying that, “As has been our ongoing stance, if we receive requests from outside companies, we will consider the requests, taking into account factors concerning our production capacity and sales,” Toyota said in a statement.

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First Drive: 2011 Smart Electric Drive

Betting on batteries in Brooklyn.

by on Jun.10, 2010

Will Smart find 250 customers for the battery version of its fortwo microcar -- at twice the price and with an 82-mile range?

It’s not the traffic we find ourselves watching out for, though there’s plenty of it on the busy streets of Brooklyn, but the potholes, massive gaps in the pavement that yawn wide and threaten to engulf our entire little microcar.

It’s not a job but an adventure, at times, taking tomorrow’s cars out for a ride, though few draw as many glances – some admiring, others just agape — as the 2011 Smart fortwo Electric Drive.  Call it the ED, for short, a battery-powered version of the French-German microcar.

The auto industry, as a whole, is increasingly coming to embrace the concept of electrification, with plug-in hybrids, like the Chevrolet Volt, and pure battery-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf.  Even Mercedes-Benz is exploring its options, all the way up to a battery-powered version of its SLS supercar.

But the German maker’s sibling brand, Smart, seems especially well-suited to enter the electric field, delivering a battery version of its nimble little two-seater that was already targeted to the urban market.

Smart will launch sales of 250 EDs in the U.S., late this year, complimenting the fleet of more than 1,500 it will put on the road in Europe.  Plans call for launching full retail sales in 2012 as a 2013 model.  But the maker hopes to learn a lot, by then, as the original crop of guinea pigs, er, buyers put their EDs through the rigors of daily motoring.

(Click Here to see how Smart is betting on the ED to revive the brand.)

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To get a sense of what they’re likely to discover, I headed to Brooklyn, earlier this week, where I squeezed into a fully-charged microcar alongside my colleague from TheDetroitBureau.com, Joe Szczesny.

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Can a Battery Car Recharge Smart?

Automaker launching test fleet of new electric vehicles.

by on Jun.10, 2010

Can a battery car version of the Smart fortwo help the brand keep its cool?

Few automotive brands have scored such a rapid rise – and suffered such an equally fast fall – as Smart, the microcar division of Daimler AG.  Desperately hoping to halt its ongoing slide, Smart executives are counting on an infusion of new products, including the brand’s first battery-electric vehicle.

About 250 Smart fortwo Electric Drive, or ED, models will be leased to U.S. customers over the coming months, with higher-volume sales set to begin in late 2012.  Though the Smart ED won’t do much to reverse slumping sales, it should put a halo around the brand until Smart can roll out new, conventionally-powered models closer to mid-decade.

“We are on the forefront of a revolution,” proclaimed Mark Langenbrinck, managing director of the Smart brand, during a media preview of the ED, in New York, this week.

(Click Here for the First Drive of the Smart Electric Drive.)

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Looking out over the crowded metropolis, Langenbrinck noted that a century ago half the cars on New York roads were powered by batteries.  Some experts believe that for urban applications, clean electric powertrains could again come to dominate in the years ahead.  The technology does have some advantages in a city setting, where motorists are likely to clock far fewer miles than their suburban and rural counterparts.

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