SMART Electric Drive: The tiny cult classic goes all electric
When the teeny tiny Smart Car first started appearing on our roads, many reviewers were less than impressed—especially regarding its poorer than expected fuel economy. Nevertheless, the little two seater has gained a cult following among many urban drivers who were drawn to its funky looks, its ability to squeeze into narrow spaces and its incredibly tight turning circle.
And when the Smart Electric Drive made an appearance, even an electric car-skeptic like Lloyd was tempted to get in on the action.
Now Daimler has announced that it's discontinuing gas-burning versions of the Smart in North America, and that move makes a lot of sense. After all, even in its gas form, the Smart car always felt to me like a platform experiment that was just waiting for full electrification to become viable.
But how does it drive?
Well, luckily, the good folks at Fully Charged have given it a fairly informative, exhaustive review. And perhaps even more luckily, they had car journalist Jonny Smith doing the reviewing. While Robert Llewellyn's enthusiastic videos are always entertaining and often inspiring, Smith's technical knowhow brings a different dimension to the show that should complement Llewellyn's offerings perfectly.
But that's enough about the show. What about the car? Smith shares that he has always been a fan of the Smart and—surprisingly to me as a Smart novice—insists that the car is both surprisingly roomy and impressively rugged in terms of crash test performance. He tells us that the Smart ED for Two should get a little over 100 miles of range in ideal driving conditions, which is an impressive distance for a smaller, lower budget electric vehicle. (It's also available in four seater and convertible configurations.) Smith also has a great deal to say about the Smart's unique styling and careful design, and also shows off a surprisingly roomy luggage compartment too.
Pricing on this video is in pounds, but a quick google search suggests the 2016 model has an MSRP of $25,000, and the Smart website suggests that leases are available for as low as $139. Not bad at all for any child-free city dwellers or suburbanites who really can't live without a car.
Anyone out there have experience of owning or leasing one of the earlier models? In a world where minivans are finally going plug-in hybrid, it's really nice to see electrified options for smaller, more city-friendly vehicles which will, alongside their emissions reductions, boast a smaller physical footprint too.
Finally, while the Smart Electric Drive looks like a great electric vehicle and another sign of progress in the automotive industry, it's worth noting that it's owned by Daimler AG, and marketed here by Mercedes-Benz USA—a member of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers which recently lobbied for a review of federal fuel efficiency standards. It's up to each reader to decide how this information should impact your purchasing decisions, but I think it's important context to share.
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