The Electric Smart Car: Understand the Facts

January 26, 2012
electric smart car

The smart car turned heads when it first appeared on U.S. roads in 2007, but the electric smart car has the ambitious aim of completely revolutionizing driving. The Smart car has grown a lot since starting out as the brainchild of watchmaker Swatch and is produced by a division of Daimler. Notoriously small, the car has always been aimed at the young, trendy end of the auto market and the smart electric car will also target the green segment of the marketplace.

The Motor

The electric smart car uses a Zytek electric motor and is solely powered by electricity (there's also a hybrid model that combines an electric motor and a gasoline engine). The speed is governed to a limit of 62 mph (without the governor it can achieve 84 miles per hour) and it will go from 0 to 30 mph in 5.8 seconds. The vehicle uses its own weight for stability. The battery is comprised of lithium-ion.

Mileage

The company claims that the electric Smart car can achieve the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon and if true, that would be a remarkable figure, a full 80% greater than the company's most economical gasoline model.

The electric Smart car will be able to travel 84 miles between charges which still means it will really only be suitable for city and suburban driving. The electric socket on the vehicle will be located under the gas cap and it will be able to plug into a regular European outlet (240 volts). It will take around 8 hours to fully charge the vehicle so essentially, it will need to be charged overnight, every night.

Emissions

The electric Smart car gives out zero emissions and runs silently just like all other electric cars. However, the zero emissions figure doesn't take into account the extra carbon dioxide necessary to create the electricity to charge the vehicle even though this is still lower than emissions from gasoline. Because it uses an electric motor, there is no engine and no engine oil which saves on maintenance and waste.

Release Schedule

The electric smart car was first introduced in 2008 although initial testing had actually begun in the UK in 2007 when Smart teamed with other companies to trial the vehicle. In 2010, the company began a larger trial in parts of England, inviting applicants to give 100 vehicles a road test.

In 2009, production of the vehicles increased in Europe at a time when a regular supply of the lithium-ion batteries to power the vehicles became available. Smart has said it intends to be in mass production of the vehicle by 2012.

The smart ForFour

smart has also produced a hybrid vehicle called the smart ForFour. This combines an electric motor with a gasoline engine, although the electric motor in this version can only go for 20 miles without assistance.

The car uses two permanent-magnet electric motors along with a 1.5 liter, 3-cylinder engine that's turbo-charged and produces 68 horsepower. The vehicle has already won one award for low carbon emissions.

Additionally, there's also an electric car conversion known as the eSmart. This has a range of 60 miles with the lithium-ion battery but just 25 miles with the AGM battery.