Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Car Review MarcLyman com

1 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Car Review MarcLyman com отключены
Smart Electric Cars

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Car Review

As an alternative to a Flux Capacitor / Fusion fueled Delorean, electric drive or EV vehicles make a lot of sense to me. Despite being an EV fanboy (and recent buyer of a vintage electric golf cart), most of my enthusiasm was based on theory rather than hands-on-the-wheel / foot-on-the-pedal experience. The lack of experience with EV has more to do with a severely underrepresented Electric Vehicle market here in the US, rather than a lack of interest. For more on that topic, be sure to check out Who Killed the Electric Car (where you can also find out about the very cool new sequel Revenge of the Electric Car ). After most of the US EV fleet was sent off to the crusher, there just haven t been a lot of Electric Vehicle options to choose from. That s about to change, and the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is one of the first 100% electric vehicles to hit the US market.

I ve had the chance to drive a Smart ForTwo Electric Drive on several occasions now. Is it viable? Is it a pint-sized Tesla? Should you buy (lease) one? Read on for my detailed review.

Unlike most golf carts, the Smart ForTwo Electric offers you most of the typical features you find in their gas-guzzling, smog-spewing counterparts. Air Conditioning and heater come standard. But don t those use a ton of energy?

According to Smart, This depends on the use of the heating and air conditioning and the outside temperature. However, the power electronics regulate the heating and air conditioning so as to minimize the strain on the battery. I translate that to mean if you re driving a Smart ForTwo Electric Drive in Phoenix in August or Duluth in January, you re totally screwed. For quick urban/suburban hops, the Smart ForTwo should keep you comfy without immediately depleting the battery. I have run the heater and the AC at various times and found them both functional, but not exactly a blast of super-heated or frosty air.

I couldn t perceive a huge difference in battery depletion with them on, but they obviously take some toll on battery life. The electric drive also comes with power steering, so you won t need to arm-wrestle your car into that parallel parking spot. The Smart ForTwo I drove was equipped with a touchscreen center console which provided navigation and music.

I found the touchscreen distractingly bright for night driving, but it s otherwise well-placed and handy.

The Smart ForTwo electric drive has a clean, albeit utilitarian interior. The vent dials felt a little clunky to me, and the dial for directing air is a bit hard to decipher with its 360 degrees of settings. The e-brake is in its typical location, but felt a little cheap in construction. My biggest gripe with the interior is with the rear view mirror. Although the mirror isn t giant, I found it took up a good chunk of my windshield real estate.

Depending on road incline/decline, and your own height, you may find the mirror in your way.

Appearance Style

By now, I think most of us anywhere urban are pretty accustomed to seeing Smart cars driving around. Some people love them, others hate them. The Electric Drive Smart fortwo models that I drove all sported contemporary styling and a techie, San Diego-friendly blue and white paint scheme.

The only real eye-catching style components were the wheels on these particular models. I don t mean eye-catching in a good way either. The wheels look like something you d find on a trailer or possibly a rideable lawn tractor.

I suspect the wheel choice was a budget and practicality consideration for San Diego s rental fleet. Aside from the ugly wheels, the Smart Electric Drive has clean lines and a nice, understated style.


My In-Car Driving Impressions

With a 60-ish MPH electronically limited top speed, you can say goodbye to speeding tickets on the freeway.

The high torque of the E-motor is immediately available which provides for strong initial acceleration. The smart fortwo electric drive has no gearshift and accelerates to 60 km/h in 6.5 seconds.

Notice that s 60 Kilometers per hour (not miles per hour). Let s just say you won t be winning any Fast and Furious street races in the Smart Car. Despite acceleration that doesn t exactly press you into your seat, the Smart car is pretty fun to drive around urban environments. It s nimble, turns on a dime, and seems to have plenty of traction given its speed limitations.

If you are looking to drift around corners with a cloud of tire smoke behind you, immediately stop reading this and go check out Tesla s offerings. The electric drive s ride handling is firm, and with the short wheel base, speed bumps and dips taken at speed may require a chiropractor visit.

The smart fortwo electric drive can be charged on a 110v or 220v outlet. It takes just 3.5 hours on a 220v outlet to charge from 20% to 80% of capacity.* For those who will drive the vehicle more aggressively, there are home charging solutions available through SPX. Details can be found at www.homecharging.spx.com/smart/. (*Will vary based on outside temperature).

It s not an SUV but the Smart fortwo can handle groceries

Are you like most American s who like to haul giant screen TV s, home improvement supplies and possibly small children around? If so, the Smart fortwo isn t for you. The storage capacity of this vehicle is understandably limited to not much beyond a few bags of groceries. The hatchback has a fold down gate which makes loading and unloading a very simple task.

Since everything is so compact, you also won t find yourself straining and leaning awkwardly. In a Smart car, just about everything is within arms reach.

From the Smart FAQ;

Q: Electric vehicles barely make any noise. Does this present a danger for other road users if the vehicle isn t heard as it approaches?

A: Unlike vehicles with combustion engines, electric vehicles barely produce any driving/motor noise. While this may make it less likely to be heard, every road user has an obligation to adopt a suitable driving style to ensure that other road users are not put at risk. This includes full visual awareness of other vehicles.

In addition, like any other car, the smart electric drive can brake and evade dangerous situations.

I love the like any other car, the smart electric drive can brake and evade. line. That s for those of you that might have been under the impression that Smart cars lacked brakes or a steering wheel. The Smart ForTwo Electric has an exterior that is identical to a normal Smart ForTwo.

So, if you do get in a little fender bender, presumably replacement body panels and exterior trim should be more available than if everything was unique to the electric version.

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Stats

The smart fortwo electric drive vehicles utilize a 30 kW drive motor that is completely powered by a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Using a standard 220V outlet, it takes only three and a half hours to charge the battery from 20 to 80 percent of its capacity and less than eight hours to fully charge it. The battery may also be charged using a common household 110V outlet.

Much like the MPG fuel economy of today, an electric vehicle s range on a fully charged battery depends on usage patterns and environmental conditions. The smart fortwo electric drive is ideal for city use. In an urban environment at warm temperatures, the smart fortwo electric drive can achieve up to 98 miles on a full charge according to the U.S. EPA LA4 test cycle.

In combined city and highway driving, the U.S. EPA estimates the range on the smart fortwo electric drive to be 63 miles.

The battery management system constantly monitors voltage, electricity and temperature to reduce risk of battery overload. The battery also automatically powers down to a 10 kW output below a 5 percent state of charge and at extremely high temperatures.

Thanks to the power characteristic of the electric motor, the smart fortwo electric drive only needs a single fixed gear ratio. The electric motor s direction of rotation changes to drive in reverse.

The average parking spot provides room for 2 or 3 Smart cars

This is one area where the Smart ForTwo (gas or electric) really shines. You know that awkward moment when you pull ahead of an open spot and you have a line of stressed-out, urban drivers behind you, all of them paying attention to everything but their driving? Despite signaling well in advance, half the time you can t even back into your spot because one of them has snuggled right up to your rear bumper. I spotted an open spot in a busy part of San Diego and rather than back in, I pulled right into the spot moving forward (something I d almost never attempt with a full size car). The car is insanely easy to park.

Once I pulled into the spot, it was so roomy I felt like I could have parked three Smart cars there. Parking with the Smart car is about as good as it gets.

If the promo video below is any indicator, I m pretty sure Smart is marketing to young and very urban buyers. Rural, nursing-home dwellers need not apply. If you know what Twitter is and spend almost all of your driving time within about a 15 mile radius, then you might be a good candidate for the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

More importantly, see if this video speaks to you.

Smart s iPod-esque Promo Video

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Availability Pricing

According to Smart s website, their Electric Drive Vehicles, Are available for lease now. You may contact your local smart center for more information. Smart s current conventionally-fueled (gas) models are available for lease with around $999 down and anywhere from $99 to $199/month on a three year lease. To get in touch with your nearest Smart dealer, try the Smart Dealer Locator.

I contacted our Smart dealer here in San Diego and found out some very interesting information on both the current Smart ForTwo Electric Drive models and a soon to be released Generation 3 model. According to the person I spoke with, only 250 of the current Smart electric drive vehicles were made available to the public here in San Diego, and all 250 were leased already. However, a consumer model that will be available for outright purchase is tentatively set to release in about seven months (that s roughly November/December of 2012). When I asked about the model name, I was told it will still be a Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, differentiated as a Generation Three.

Smart ForTwo Electric Dive Generation Three Coming Soon

The Smart rep I talked with informed me that San Diego s Car2Go service paid $46,000 per vehicle for the current generation cars and that the new Generation 3 version would sell for much less than that. Considering a soon to be available Tesla Model S Sedan (which will do 0-60 in under six, seats five adults plus two kids and will have a range of 160-300 miles) starts at $49,900, I have to say the $46,000 reportedly paid by Car2Go sounds like a complete insanity. My hope for Smart s sake is that the new Generation Three sells for a whole lot less than $46,000, otherwise they can expect to be spanked by just about every other pure electric car coming on the market.

The smart rep didn t have any concrete stats for me to quote on the new Generation Three, but he said the new model would have a 80 MPH top speed and a longer range. While the longer range would be a very welcome improvement, I m not sure I d feel entirely comfortable at 80 MPH in a Smart car. A little more top speed would be handy for those rare occasions where you might need to pass someone though.

The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is the nicest, safest, fastest, comfiest, sportiest, most stylish, longest-range, best-handling, easiest to park golf cart I have ever driven. OK, so it s not technically a golf cart. Would I pay $46,000 for one? No way.

In fact, I wouldn t buy one at all given it s current limitations (particularly interior space/seating and range). To me, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive in it s current form is a solid step above a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) like the Gem car, but is still a far cry for a gas vehicle replacement for most people. However, if you re a city dweller with a very short commute and you have a second car or rarely/never need to drive more than 20 or 30 miles away, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is worth considering, especially if the upcoming Generation Three addresses a few shortcomings. Or, if you re in a place like San Diego with a Car2Go service, you might find the service a great option if you just need a convenient vehicle for occasional short trips. I ll be posting a detailed review on San Diego s Car2Go service soon as well.

While the revenge of the electric car is here (on DVD and in real life), it s still a little ways off when it comes to a healthy market of options people will actually consider replacing their gas vehicles with. But the electric car marketplace is changing rapidly, and some big players are betting fortunes on its success.

For more details on the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, check out this Smart brochure which includes a company timeline, or visit SmartUSA.com s Electric Drive Overview .

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