By Andreas Stahl, Correspondent | Published Aug 16, 2011
Just the Facts:
[*]The latest Smart Fortwo Electric Drive features a new electric motor drive developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch.
[*]The new motor delivers a 33-horsepower increase over the previous model
[*]A new battery increases range to 87 miles, a 5-mile increase over the previous model
STUTTGART, Germany — Mercedes-Benz's city car division Smart has revealed a reworked version of the Fortwo Electric Drive. The new two-seat coupe, which receives an upgraded driveline for added acceleration and greater range, is planned to make its public debut alongside a concept for a new four-door Smart model at next month's 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show prior to going on sale in up to 30 markets, including North America, during the second quarter of 2012.
Central among the changes made to the third iteration of the Fortwo Electric Drive is the adoption of a new electric motor developed in a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Bosch.
Mounted at the rear and providing drive to the rear wheels, the brushless unit boasts a 33-horsepower and 7 pound-feet increase over the earlier Fortwo Electric Drive's motor at 73 hp and 96 lb-ft, respectively.
The added reserves cut the 0-37 mph (0-60 km/h) time by 1.5 seconds to 5.0 seconds. Top speed also increases from 62 mph (100 km/h) to 75 mph (120 km/h).
Electric energy for the motor is supplied by a new lithium-ion battery pack. Produced by Deutsche ACCUmotive, it replaces the Telsa-supplied unit used by the second iteration of the Fortwo Electric Drive, production of which has now ceased after a run of more than 2,000 cars.
The capacity of the battery has increased from 16.5 kW/h to 17.7 kW/h in a move that provides the new Fortwo Electric Drive with a 5-mile increase in range over the older model at a claimed 87 miles. Smart claims a recharge time of eight hours on a 220-volt European socket, or just under an hour using the car's onboard high-ampere charger.
Smart has confirmed that production of the latest Fortwo Electric Drive is planned to be increased to over 10,000 units. The earlier model's production was capped at just 2,000 units.
As well as revealing the new Fortwo Electric Drive, Smart has also announced it will diversify away from its usual automotive activities with the addition of a so-called eBike to its lineup as part of a broader personal mobility program aimed at taking the Mercedes-Benz offshoot back to its roots.
The new electric bicycle, previewed at last year's Paris auto show, uses a 250-watt hub motor mounted at the rear to provide assistance to the rider.
The electric assistance can be altered in four steps using a handlebar-mounted mechanism. Electric energy for the motor is provided by a 0.4 kW/h lithium-ion battery that sits low down within the new bicycle's frame.
Inside Line says: Nothing like more power and range to make an electric car seem a little more worthwhile.