New generation Smart ForTwo and ForFour Electric Drive are almost here

Mercedes-Benz roadmap

 

Smart Electric Drive cars are almost forgotten because of their small battery capacity and range.

 

Today range and battery capacity rule and this is why cars like the Smart Electric Drive are almost ignored, but they have their place in the EV world.

 

We associate Tesla to luxury electric cars, the Chevrolet Bolt EV to longer range electric cars that are almost affordable and the Hyundai IONIQ Electric to super efficient electric cars. But there isn’t one electric car model that we associate to affordability or to the best city car experience, at least not yet…

 

In April the new generation Smart ForTwo and ForFour ED start to be delivered to their buyers. In the video below we can see a park in Germany full with electric Smart ForFour cars.

 

 

Both new Smart versions, the ForTwo and ForFour Electric Drive have strong points that differentiate them from the rest. I can’t think of better cars – gas or electric – for city environment. Let’s see why.

 

  • Very low weight makes them extremely efficient at low speed city driving – where aerodynamics isn’t that important.
  • Having an internal 22 kW charger makes more sense for city driving – where there are many public EVSEs available – than always carrying around a heavier battery. Only 45 minutes are required to charge from 0 to 80 % at a simple 22 kW EVSE.
  • In the continuation of the point above, I should add that in most European cities we can find free to use public 22 kW EVSEs at commercial areas. In the longer run this can make the Smart electric version’s total cost lower than their gas counterparts.
  • Rear-wheel drive is great for practicality in the city, since it allows a better turning angle on the front wheels.
  • Small size make them easy to park.
  • Electric cars shine in the city where regenerative braking is much more used/important than it is in the highway. Cars without regenerative braking are extremely inefficient in city environment. This is another advantage over the gas Smart cars.

 

But there is room for improvement, I still think that the electric versions are purposely overpriced when compared to their gas counterparts. In Germany the gas version’s price of the ForTwo starts at 10.545 €, while the ForFour starts at 11.205 €. The electric versions are two times more expensive.

The starting prices of 21.940 € for the ForTwo ED and 22.600 € for the ForFour ED aren’t exactly cheap for this kind of small cars, but car-sharing companies will definitely choose them, since they can negotiate better prices. Also in France, where Government incentives to buy electric cars can reach as high as 10.000 €, these electric versions will have similar prices to their gas counterparts. Mitsubishi i-MiEV and its French brothers (Peugeot iOn and Citron C-Zero) have no chance now and it’s time for a new generation designed with Nissan’s help.

 

The 87th Geneva International Motor Show takes place next month from 9rd to 19th March and usually Renault unveils something interesting in this autoshow. It’s a great opportunity for Renault to finally tells us if the Renault Twingo ZE project is alive or we can forget it. I think that the Twingo ZE looks much better than its brother Smart ForFour ED, it’s basically a cute Fiat 500e with two extra doors for more practicality. It would be a shame if the Renault Twingo ZE – that has been promised by Renault since 2014 – never sees the light of day.

 

Renault Twingo ZE

 

I really think that for an electric car designed for the city, it’s much better to have a faster internal charger than a heavier and costlier battery with more capacity that we have to carry around. This is why I think that the new Smart electric cars will become iconic and a common sight in many cities, especially in Europe. What doesn’t make sense are current electric city cars such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV or the Volkswagen e-Up that have small battery capacity, slow internal chargers and aren’t exactly cheap. They were designed to fail in every area.

 

In my opinion Smart should at least drop 5.000 € in the price of the electric versions for further consumer adoption and completely ditch the gas counterparts. No one buys a gas Smart car for highway use, people buy them for almost exclusively city use and in this case the electric versions are the ones that make sense.

 

What do you think? Will the Smart Electric Drive cars become iconic electric cars popular in European cities?

Pedro Lima

More than natural resources, are wasted human resources that bothers me the most. That’s why I’m a strong advocate of a society based on cooperation, not competition, that helps every individual to reach his full potential so that he can contribute back to society. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

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8 Responses

  1. Apkungen says:

    Your reasoning is spot on i think. The price is definitely what’s important here. They should have DC charging capability too, but I think they do, right?

  2. Schorschi says:

    I fail to see why the next generation smart ED should become iconic.

    Compared to the current generation models it has practically no enhancements. The battery has the same capacity, a 22kW charger has also been available in the current model. The only differences worth mentioning are 10 cm wider body and a really tight turning radius.

    So, effectively this car has been available since 2013 with the same specs. Why should the new generation suddenly spark more interest in consumers?

    • Pedro Lima says:

      The old generation had a very expensive Brusa NLG664 internal 22 kW charger as option. It was so expensive that’s very hard to find an used Smart ForTwo ED with it.

  3. C-Zero_Fan_(lo) says:

    All points you mentioned are also valid for the Citroen C-Zero (and siblings). Smart has the 3ph charger vs. the 3,6 kW of the tripplets and that´s it. (If you plug in the C-Zero at half full, you need to stay 2-3 hours until balancing kicks in at ~9x%).
    C-Zero beats the new Smart in prize (~17k€) and quick charging (20 minutes to 80%, max power ~40 kW). The older Smart ED had a superior thermal management… Nobody needs this new smart. If you are afraid of battery drain from heating, just install a bioethanol heater.

    Dispite the (C-Zero-) cells being to big and to heavy, they are perfect for high currents and last forever (at least longer than leaf or SK innovations cells).

    Did I mention CanION? A free app to monitor the voltage of each cell and 60(!) thermocouples inside the battery and the current (in or out).

    • Pedro Lima says:

      The fast internal charger saves you money, since there are a lot of public 22 kW EVSEs free to use in Europe. Unlike the DC fast chargers that are expensive, scarce and often occupied.

      In most European countries the Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn are more expensive than the Smart ForFour ED will be.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like the electric triplets, but they are so overpriced for what they offer and their material’s quality is below average. Rust is a very common problem in these cars.

      In some European countries they cost more than the Nissan Leaf. It’s clear they weren’t meant to be great sellers.

  4. Jason Meador says:

    This is probably my Dallas, Texas-centric view (my daily is commute is a total of 52 miles) but all the Smart needs is a bigger battery and it would perfect. It would be my next car. For reference, my current car is a 2011 Leaf with 101,000 miles.

  5. Janesh says:

    I love my 10000 euro 2012 i-miev city car. With its 100 km range in winter and its fast charge capability i do not need a 22 kw charger.
    The only disadvantage is the heating system when it is very cold, but then and for longer distances i take my bmw i3 rex.

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