Tech Files test drive Smart& s new electric car SiliconBeat

4 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Tech Files test drive Smart& s new electric car SiliconBeat отключены
Smart Electric Cars

Tech Files test drive: Smart s new electric car

Not too long ago, you couldn t find an electric car on the market. Now, it seems, every manufacturer either has one or has one in the works.

One of the latest to hit the market is the Smart Electric Drive vehicle. The car, which is basically an electric version of Smart s pint-sized two-seat fortwo coupe, hit showrooms three months ago. Its claim to fame is that it is one of the least expensive and smallest electric vehicles on the market.

The electric Smart car has a list price of $25,000. But that s before government electric-car incentives and it also doesn t include a unique $5,000 discount that the company is offering to customers who decide to lease the battery pack within the car rather than buying it outright with the vehicle itself.

Add it all up, and you can get out the door with a new Smart EV for less than $20,000 possibly a lot less with the rebates.

I got a chance to test drive the new Smart in San Francisco this morning. My impressions of it were mixed.

I love the price and, for city driving, the size. It was easy to park and turn and get around on city streets.

I also liked the entertainment console, although I had some reservations about it. Its fairly easy to use, with a touchscreen interface that is built around big icons that connect you to functions including the radio and the navigation system. You can even play videos through the screen via a USB drive or SD memory card.

However, the system was somewhat slow, particularly when trying to load the navigation system. The screen resolution wasn t great. And I would have liked the system better if it included a volume control and other buttons on the steering wheel.

But the Smart EV has bigger problems. For one, it s under-powered; it has a peak horsepower of 74, but it s typical horsepower is more like 47. Going on to the highway and getting up to speed is a slow and potentially frightening prospect.

It also has a very limited range. I didn t get to test the full extent of it, but Smart says the car has a 76 mile range. The Environmental Protection Agency, however, says its range is 68 miles.

And it could be even less than that if you re running the heater or air conditioning and taxing the battery in other ways. How much less? The Smart folks wouldn t say exactly, but the did say that it could be as little at 50 miles.

In my limited tests, the car held up OK. On level city streets, it consumed very little charge. But accelerating to get on to the highway or climbing hills taxed its battery quite a bit. When I drove up Twin peaks, for example, its range estimator dropped by 9 miles even though I had only driven 3.

It also feels stiff when you drive it. The brakes at least on the model I drove were tight, stopping or slowing the car sharply.

Smart Electric Cars

Like other electric vehicles, the Smart EV includes a regenerative system that helps recharge the battery. But its system works not only when you are braking, but also when you are simply coasting. If you let up on the accelerator, you can feel the car slowing down markedly.

That system is very efficient, but it doesn t make for a smooth ride.

It also has a rather spartan interior. The analog speedometer and battery charge indicator give a nice retro feel, but the yellow LED odometer and range indicator just feel outdated.

If you re looking for an inexpensive electric car to drive about town, you should take a look at the Smart fortwo electric drive. But if you expect to take it on the highway or are looking for something a bit fancier, you can drive on by.

Below you ll find some videos of my impressions as I drove the vehicle.

Troy Wolverton (219 Posts )

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry.

Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for and CNET

Smart Electric Cars
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