What is it?
In 2007 Smart built 100 electrically driven Fortwo prototypes, which were engineered in the UK by Zytek. Since then, the cars have been under test in central London by real-world drivers.
Building on that experience, the company has now released the second-generation version of the Smart Electric Drive model. A thousand examples of the new model will be built at the Smart factory in France and will be rolled out this month across eight European countries.
What’s it like?
The battery and electric motor have been upgraded on the second-generation cars. Smart has sourced a lithium ion battery from Tesla that can work at normal ambient temperatures. The NaNiCL battery in the first-gen car needed to be heated up to work properly and was wrapped in an insulative casing.
The Smart’s electric motor also gets a power boost, offering a peak output of around 40bhp for two minutes, though in normal conditions it offers the same 27bhp as the previous model. The transmission couldn’t be simpler. It’s a single, fixed ratio, which just offers the driver forward and reverse.
There’s little doubt that the Smart Electric Drive is appreciably better to drive then the internal combustion version. The combination of the super-smooth electric motor and the direct-drive transmission removes at a stroke the standard-issue Smart’s Achilles' heel of momentary torque interruption when changing gear.