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.
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?