Electric smart car has a shocking price — WheelsTalk

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Smart Electric Cars

Electric smart car has a shocking price

The smart fortwo electric car coming in early 2013 will start at $26,990 for the coupe (shown) and $29,990 for the cabriolet. Several provinces offer substantial rebates such as Ontario with $8,500 that lowers the price to $18,490 for the coupe and $21,490 for the cabriolet.

Story and photos by Jim Robinson,

Metroland Media/WheelsTalk.com —

BERLIN, Germany: I have no qualms saying the 2013 fortwo electric is the best handling, riding and performing smart car I have ever driven.

But, as good as it is, the question is whether Canadians are ready to rethink their transportation options now that there is an electric car under $30,000 and as low as $18,490 in Ontario or $21,990 in B.C.

Priced at $26,990 for the two-seat coupe or $29,990 for the cabriolet, the answer will come early in 2013 when the two newest electrics on the block start arriving in smart Canada showrooms.

With an $8,500 Ontario provincial rebate, it lowers the coupe/cabriolet price to $18,490 and $21,490 respectively. In British Columbia where the province offers a $5,000 reduction, pricing would be $21,990 and $24,990. Quebec offers an $8,000 rebate.

In fairness, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV starting at $32,998, the Nissan LEAF at $38,395 and the Ford Focus at $41,199 have the same government rebates.

However, the i-MiEV, LEAF and Focus offer seating for up to five while the smart is strictly for two, hence the model name.

The interior of the 2013 smart fortwo electric is almost identical to the standard car except for the gauges. Note the holder on the centre stack for an iPhone which can be used as a trip computer and even has a “car finder” function.

Insiders at smart call the production version the Gen-3.

Previewed before the world’s automotive press in Berlin, this third iteration on the theme has all the bugs worked out and is ready to put a brave new electric face on the smart brand.

Those who have previously driven the Gen-2 version, told me this new smart is night and day better than what had gone before.

From my standpoint, the acceleration is, well, electrifying no pun intended.

Put your right foot down and the little smart almost leaps away from a traffic light. Thanks partially due to the weight saving efforts of smart engineers (coupe 900 kg, cabriolet, 920 kg) but largely to the 96 lb/ft of torque which, being electric, it reaches peak almost immediately.

Another thing is the “rubber banding” of the CVT transmission of the gasoline version is gone. Power is on tap all the time and all the way up and down the swing of the speedo needle.

In the gasoline smart, the engine is basically right behind your behind so it can be loud with the windows up. The fortwo electric is a nearly silent runner with only a faint whine of the rear-mounted electric motor heard, and only then under full acceleration.

With a 175 kg lithium-ion battery beneath the floorboards, it helps lower the centre of gravity which aids handling.

Cargo volume for the electric version of the smart fortwo is unchanged at 220 litres beneath the cargo cover and 340 litres removed.

Already pretty nimble, the electric can literally be flicked around corners, which my co-driver did more than once in downtown Berlin.

As mentioned, the battery is lithium-ion consisting of 92 cells in three modules with a capacity of 17.6 kWh. With the magneto-electric motor, there is 35 Kw of maximum power and 130 Nm (95 lb/ft) of torque. Maximum power is 55 kW or 74 hp.

Acceleration time from 0-60 km/h is 4.8 seconds and 0-100 km/h is 11.5 seconds. That results in a top speed of 125 km/h and range of up to 145 km depending, of course, on driving technique.

But then we come to the issue of charging.

If you use a three-prong 110-volt outlet in your garage, you are looking at 10 or more hours to recharge.

The smart does comes with an onboard 230-volt charger port.

You are better to pay for and install a 230-volt outlet that can recharge the vehicle in seven hours. Or you can pay for a special wallbox that takes about six hours to charge up. Cost has not been settled yet for Canada, but in Europe it is about $1,300-$1,500.

Brabus, the performance partner of smart, offers a “hot rod” version of the fortwo electric in a wide variety of colours and extra equipment.

The third option is a three-phase 400-volt wallbox with no cost factor being mentioned but it won’t be cheap.

But after shelling out for the wallbox, the cost of operation is reasonable.

To travel 100 km, smart says it would take about 15.1 kHw. Check you hydro bill and it will give you a pretty good idea of operating costs.

Chatting with the engineers, I asked about drawing power from other sources other than the grid such as windmills and solar power. Basically, the smart is happy no matter where or how the charge is delivered.

While it would be nowhere near as fast as a 230-volt wallbox, having trickle power from a roof-mounted solar panel would probably work to keep the battery topped up when the car is not in use, especially if you don’t use it that much.

The fortwo electric is nicely equipped including standard air conditioning and it can be pre-started from a computer or smart phone.

Sticking up on top of the instrument panel are two round gauges. One shows battery life while the other clocks energy used and regenerated.

And smart has an app for the electric.

In concert with Apple, there is a smart drive app for the iPhone the turns it into a trip computer. In addition to the usual hands-free calling and playing music, there is also a “car finder” function that guides the owner back to his/her car if they become lost.

When it comes to charging, the car can be connected to the internet, allowing the owner to use a computer to set when the car is to be charged and the duration.

The smart fortwo electric is another major step forward towards the electrification of personal propulsion becoming mainstream.

With this car, the ebike and the escooter coming in 2014, this company it proving going electric is the smart thing to do.

smart fortwo electric 2013 at a glance

BODY STYLE: three-door, two-seat, sub-compact

DRIVE METHOD: rear motor, rear-wheel-drive

ENGINE: Magneto-electric motor for combined 74 hp (55 kW), 96 lb/ft (130 Nm) of torque

POWER CONSUMPTION: (approx.) 15.1 KWh/100 km

CARGO: 220-340 litres

PRICE: Coupe $26,990, cabriolet, $29,990 before government rebates where applicable

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