From £9,220
Electric prototype may herald a safe, zero-pollution urban micro car

What is it?

The car driven here is a prototype 450-series Smart ED. Engineered by UK-based Zytek, this 450-series prototype loses the three-cylinder engine and self-shifting 'box. Instead, it gets a 35bhp electric motor driving an adapted Getrag 'box which is locked into second gear, offering just forward, reverse and neutral.

However, it will be replaced next year with the 41bhp 451-series Smart ED. This new model will use a new lithium-ion battery pack and various low-consumption electrical systems, including a new heating and air-con unit.

Around 1000 450s will be built and rolled out for test around in various global cities. In 2012 series production will commence at the Smart factory in Hambach, France. Smart sources estimate that eventually around 10 per cent of production – around 1500 units – will be Smart EDs.

What's it like?

The only way you know the Smart ED is powered up is the very gentle hum from behind the seats. The accelerator requires a hard push to wind the car up, but the acceleration is breezy and adequate for town driving.

Smart’s test route was along the hump-strewn streets of east London, probably the single most hostile environment to a car with such a short wheelbase. Predictably, once up to a reasonable pace, the Smart would pitch and heave markedly over bumps.

On streets that haven’t been re-surfaced by anti-car fanatics, the Smart was smooth, eerily quiet and ridiculously easy to reverse and park. Best of all, the car emits absolutely no pavement-side pollution, unlike a diesel car.

While this prototype has many of the old Smart rough edges (dead feeling brakes, slow steering at slow speeds) it’s clear from driving the latest diesel Smart on the same route that the new model is much more polished.

Perhaps the best news is that the electric Smart isn’t hampered by the mid-shift engine braking that has been such a problem with Smarts since launch and still affects - to a much lesser degree, admittedly - the newest models.


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Should I buy one?

You’ll have to wait until 2012 when the 451-series model finally goes into series production. The first 1000 451s will be scattered across the globe for further real world testing with the new lithium-ion batteries and revised electrical systems.

Still, the production ED could turn out to be the definitive Smart - a serious, safe, zero-pollution urban micro car.

Please note the car travels from 0-30mph in 6.5sec, not 0-62mph as specified in the data table below. Unfortunately, the table cannot currently be reformatted.

Join the debate


12 June 2009

0-62 in 6.5 secinds and only 35bhp???

I find that hard to believe. That aside, seems like a good and natural progression for a car that really is made for congested built up cities (London, Paris etc). Any word on the range and battery life?

If I lived in a big city I think I'd consider this to get to and from the shops and probably work in.

12 June 2009



12 June 2009

I don't know what the price is going to be, but I would still go for converted Citroen C1. The little bit of extra road space that it takes up has got to be worth it for the extra practicality.

12 June 2009

I didn't realise running an electric car allowed you to have an expired tax disc...

12 June 2009

[quote Autocar]Engineered by UK-based Zytech[/quote]

Umm, don't you mean Zytek! -

12 June 2009

Is this a projected 0-62 mph time as it runs out of electric puff at 60?.....

I love it and I'd buy one

12 June 2009

The pictures in this article are quite misleading as it would appear that two different cars have been pictured. Notice the Tridion safety cell structure on the car with green panels is black whereas the car pictured with its tax disc and charging point showing has a silver safety cell structure which would explain that the pictures might be somewhat dated.

And yes, it's 'Zytek'

13 June 2009

for what it does it competes with the tata nano, so the price would need to be about £3-4k maximum.

14 June 2009

[quote beachland2] for what it does it competes with the tata nano, so the price would need to be about £3-4k maximum.[/quote] Yes but remember the Nano will not be battery powered by the time this is released therefore it will be more expensive to run and you will also have to pay for tax although insurance will be more on the smart. I don't think Smart will need to charge 3-4k maximum. for one thing that would be amazingly cheap for a fully electric car.

14 June 2009

why must a nano be taxed? it should easily be under the co2 charge band for the euro spec model.

there is no way the smart is cheaper to own/run over any period of time or how many miles travelled for the lifetime of the car. even if its electric charging is provided free of cost. it will be considerably more expensive.


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