STUTTGART: After 18 years and three iterations, Daimler's latest Smart cars look to be living up to their name as the intelligent choice for environmentally conscious commuters that live and work in cities.
The new Smart Electric Drive range will consist of three models - a two seater, a convertible and a four-seat, four-door version when it goes on sale this spring.
So in other words, there will be a battery-powered equivalent of every gas-powered Smart currently on sale. This makes Smart the first company in the world to offer an EV alternative of every one of its vehicles and it is something the firm's leaning on heavily in the accompanying publicity.
"The smart is the perfect city car, and with electric drive it becomes a little bit more perfect," said Annette Winkler, Head of smart. "This is why we will soon be offering our entire range - smart fortwo, smart cabrio and even our smart forfour - as all-electric versions."
When Mercedes and Swiss fashion watch maker Swatch first came together to create the Smart car, Mercedes envisioned and designed it as an electric car - hence its high seating position (to make room for a battery pack). But battery technology was so poor back in 1998 that the first-gen Smart debuted with a petrol engine.
Battery versions did eventually follow but it's taken until 2016 for the technology to meet the average city driver's requirements. And according to Smart, those requirements are a range of 160km (100 miles) between recharges and a recharging time of two-to-three hours with a dedicated wall box.
Considering the compact dimensions of even the ForFour, plus the fact that the motor offers 80hp and a 0-100kph time of 11.5 seconds (12.7 for the four seater) - in other words, almost identical to the gasoline models - the figures are genuinely impressive.
The car's battery and charging status can be monitored via a smartphone app and from summer 2017 when the car rolls out globally, a 22kW fast charger - that could recharge the batteries in just 45 minutes - will be available as an option.
The Smart Electric Drive range will make its global debut at the Paris motor show from October 1. Smart is yet to confirm US pricing but has said that the four-seat, four-door ForFour won't be coming to North America. In Europe, where all three cars will be available, prices will start at €27,839 (RM129,000).