A smarter use of


smart fortwo electric drive, interior
smart fortwo electric drive, recharging
smart fortwo electric drive, side
smart fortwo electric drive, rear

FIVE years after it launched a test fleet of electric cars, smart is about to put its first zero emission vehicles on sale in the UK.

Until now electrically driven smart fortwo models have only been available on lease, and then in limited numbers. But from early next year you will finally be able to go into your local showroom and buy one.

And the German manufacturer is confident that sales will soar.

It was back in 2007 that the first generation electric smarts hit London as the company used the initial test fleet to gather information on how they performed and what drivers liked and disliked about them.

In 2009 the second generation was launched in 18 markets, but again as a test fleet.

Now after assimilating all the customer feedback from both generations the company has confidently revealed the third generation and announced a 2013 on-sale date for the UK.

Bosses at smart have listened to their customers' feedback and believe they now have the product just right, and are confident it will appeal both to private and fleet buyers.

The new car, which is available as either a coupe or cabriolet, has a top speed of 78mph, will accelerate from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds - more than twice as quick as previous versions - and has a range of around 90 miles. It operates in complete silence and is totally green.

A full charge takes between six and seven hours although you can pay extra for your smart fortwo to have a fast charge system on board which will allow you to be back to a full battery in just 60 minutes.

By charging overnight, however, your fuel will cost you around 70 per cent less than if you were running a petrol-powered smart.

For some people the thing that puts them off electric cars is the worry about the life of the battery, but smart has addressed this by offering the car with a battery rental scheme.

It means that you can either buy the smart for two electric drive complete with battery or you can pay for the car and then pay around £52 per month to rent the battery for up to 10 years, knowing that if anything goes wrong with it you will get a replacement with no questions asked.

No prices have been set for the car in the UK yet but they are expected to be similar to those in Germany where it is about to go on sale with the coupe at 15,890 euros (around £12,868) before tax and the cabrio at 18,486 euros (approx £14,963) before tax, plus the battery rental charge.

In Germany customers buying the car and battery outright will pay 19,900 euros (approx £16,111) for the coupe and 22,496 euros (around £18,213) for the cabrio before tax.

If you buy the car and battery outright in the UK you will get a three-year warranty on both vehicle and battery with the option of extending it to five, so you have to do the maths and see which scheme is for you, bearing in mind that the new smart for two electric drive will attract a government grant of £5,000.

The all singing all dancing new car really lives up to its smart name, with a host of clever features.

When it's plugged into the grid, for example, you can use your smart phone to "pre-condition" the interior so it's just right for your journey. That can mean heating it up in winter or, using the air conditioning, cooling it down in summer. And all from the comfort of your armchair using your mobile phone.

On the road the new beefier car is certainly lively away from the traffic lights, often leaving petrol and diesel cars behind in its initial surge.

And that's one of the factors early test drivers liked about the first and second generation models, although they said more power was needed for motorways.

Listening to the comments smart has increased the continuous power output from 20kw to 35kw - with 55kw available for short bursts - so it's now more motorway friendly.

As with all smart cars it's highly manoeuvrable and light to drive but because it's electric it has a single step transmission and no clutch.

The strange thing of course is the silence, and test driving the new model in Berlin we caught a few unsuspecting pedestrians out.

The company will, however, be offering as an option a sound module to create a subtle resonance - so you don't injure anyone who doesn't hear you coming.


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