It was a busy, busy day for Daimler AG at the 2016 Paris Auto Show. Along with announcing their all-electric Mercedes ‘Generation Q’ SUV, they also debuted three new variants of their smart electric vehicles: fortwo, fortwo cabrio, and forfour. These new EVs are being positioned by the company as “Built for the city. Perfect for escaping it.” [but not terribly quickly and only about 100 miles out]…

Via Daimler’s press kit from earlier this week, Annette Winkler, head of smart, stated that:

“The smart is the perfect city car, and with electric drive it becomes a little bit more perfect. This is why we will soon be offering our entire range – smart fortwo, smart cabrio and even our smart forfour – as all-electric versions. Together with lots of smart fans and enthusiastic drivers of the three predecessor generations, we are looking forward to the unique driving fun offered by the new smart electric drive. And at very attractive prices, especially in countries where there is a buyer’s premium”.

‘Perfect’ is a pretty bold word to use, but she is right to a certain degree. While some might criticize the vehicles offered by smart are not the most aesthetically pleasing, amongst other things, the vehicles are relatively small which can make them easier to maneuver and park in high density urban settings. And those that do live in such environments, I’m sure, can attest to the fact that getting into tight spots, or driving on very narrow lanes with a medium sized car can sometimes be stressful.

Technical specifications are generally the same for each vehicle:

  • 17.6 kWh battery
  • 60 kw (81 hp) three-phase motor
  • 160 Nm (118 ft lbs) of torque
  • Top speed of 130 kmh (80 mph)
  • Charging time with a typical outlet is ~6 hours in EU/UK (~13 hours in the U.S.)
  • Charging time with the optional high-powered Wallbox is ~3.5 hours in EU (~2.5 in the UK/U.S.). This fast charger is expected to be available in 2017
  • ECO mode, for increased efficiency
  • Pre-entry climate control
  • ‘smart control’ app for smartphones, tablets and PCs

Only a few differences are present between the variants:

fortwo:

  • Acceleration of 0-100 kmh (0-60 mph) in 11.5 seconds
  • ~160 km (~100 miles) of range
  • €21,940 (~$25,000)

fortwo cabrio:

  • Acceleration of 0-100 kmh (0-60 mph) in 11.8 seconds
  • ~155 km (~96 miles) of range
  • €25,200 (~$28,000)

forfour:

  • Acceleration of 0-100 kmh (0-60) in 12.7 seconds
  • ~155 km (~96 miles) of range
  • €22,600 (~$25,000)

One pretty new and neat aspect that smart is incorporating in their vehicles is ‘overrun mode.’ It is described as:

“when braking the vehicle’s kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy – this is called recuperation. The radar-based recuperation, which is active in the basic transmission mode, is anticipatory. The traffic situation is monitored with a radar sensor and a recuperation level that suits the current situation is selected.”

So unlike other EVs, smart is using a radar-based system to anticipate traffic ahead and have it pick the best ‘level’ that will slow down while capturing back the most energy. Not sure if, or how much this will increase range, but it is an interesting concept that we’ll wait to hear feedback on from drivers.

After the conclusion of the Paris Auto Show, the European launch will likely begin in spring 2017 and the smart fortwo will be launch in the U.S. around three months from now. Fun fact: the U.S. accounts for about 25% of smart sales worldwide.

A potential obstacle that could prove to be a problem is the limited availability that apartment/condo owners have to charging solutions at their home. But, again, these are aimed at city dwellers, so the range should be adequate enough to charge every other day or so, either at their home, office, or with a public station. Nonetheless, this is often a common concern for people in the city, and can impact the success of the car.

With that being said, I like the rest of what the cars have to offer for the price. What are your thoughts? If you live in the city, could this be a viable option for you? Let us know down in the comments

 

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