The smart fortwo EV represents Daimler’s first effort to electrify its European and American fleets. This diminutive EV has been dragged along to auto shows the past few years as a sign of Daimler’s green portfolio. A recent press release from Daimler announced the first round of production for smart fortwo EV models at a dedicated plant in Hambach, Germany. The automaker plans additional production by the end of this year at an eco-friendly plant in Lorraine, France. German consumers can expect the smart fortwo EV in showrooms by August with 30 additional markets opened over the next year.
Daimler also unveiled the “sale & care model” that creates flexibility in the smart fortwo EV ownership experience. This sales structure allows a buyer to choose between a purchase, lease or rental as well as battery rental and purchase. A smart fortwo EV purchased without the battery is priced from $23,686 as a coupe and $27,557 as a convertible. Daimler notes that battery rental for this option starts from $81 per month. Buyers interested in the whole package purchase the vehicle plus battery starting at $29,661 for the coupe and $33,532 for the convertible.
The smart fortwo EV is powered by a 55kW electric motor designed by EM-motive and a 17.6 kWh battery from ACCUmotive. This all-electric drive system travels up to 90 miles per charge based on typical urban driving. Daimler estimates a top speed of 78 miles per hour for the smart fortwo EV. Drivers moving away from dense city centers hit 37 MPH from a dead stop in 4.8 seconds. This two-seater will not be zooming on the Autobahn anytime soon but Daimler is marketing the vehicle to big-city dwellers.
Consumers concerned about environmental impacts at the production level need not be concerned about the smart fortwo EV. Daimler designed production lines at Hambach and Lorraine to reduce such impacts significantly compared to traditional plants. The Hambach plant features an overhauled paint shop using an eco-friendly liquid painting technique that reduces water use. This plant also has 15 years of experience manufacturing the standard smart fortwo, pumping out 1.3 million vehicles sold throughout the world. The Lorraine plant incorporates a standalone thermal energy source that powers 25% of production. Daimler also utilizes a production floor shaped like a cross to increase efficiency by cutting down on redundancies.
The introduction of the smart fortwo EV is an important indicator for Daimler’s success in the green vehicle market. Daimler has struggled in the past five years to compete with other automakers in Europe due to sluggish innovation and financial woes. The smart fortwo EV should be competitive with the Honda Fit EV, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and other models aiming at urban commuters. The “sale & care model” demonstrates concern by Daimler about the ability of consumers to purchase all-electric vehicles. Consumers need not absorb the entire cost of EV batteries at the point of sale, an important bargaining chip given skepticism about green vehicle prices. Daimler’s approach to the smart fortwo EV demonstrates the need for creativity when promoting EV adoption.
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