2012 smart fortwo electric drive, 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

2012 smart fortwo electric drive, 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

The problems with the old Smart Fortwo Electric Drive were fairly easy to work out. It was too slow, had only an average range, took too long to charge and it was too expensive - even when leasing.

Smart has taken the car back to the drawing board and fixed all these issues - and given the car a spit and polish in some other areas, too. The revised model was on display at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show and we were there to check it out.

Range and performance

We've tested the second-generation Fortwo Electric Drive on several occasions, and whilst delivering in some areas, it was a let down in others.

Compared to the regular gasoline Fortwo the ride, handling and drivetrain smoothness were all impressive, but by the standards of other electric cars performance was lacking.

The new model improves on the old car's 0 to 37mph time by 1.5 seconds, now taking only 5 seconds. 60 mph comes up in "less than 13 seconds", equivalent to a gasoline Fortwo. Top speed has risen to 75mph, up from 62mph. This is thanks to a new 35 kW electric motor (the old model was 20 kW) and peak power has risen to 55 kW for short bursts. Smart claims the 17.6 kWh battery is good for an 87 mile range in city traffic.

The previous Electric Drive used a Tesla-sourced lithium-ion battery, but the new car uses German supplier Deutche Accumotive. A new 22 kW charging system allows fast charging from completely empty to full capacity in only an hour. Smart is planning to offer a home installation package, with an as-yet unnamed "leading energy solutions" provider.

2012 smart fortwo electric drive, 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

2012 smart fortwo electric drive, 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Price and availability

For fans of the old Electric Drive getting hold of one or even taking a drive could be a frustrating experience, as it was only available in 18 markets worldwide. The 2012 model will be offered in 30 markets.

The new price is more attractive too. Lease customers will pay 60 Euros a month before VAT (Value Added Tax, a purchase tax of between 10-20 percent added in some European countries), or $82. Certainly beats the old $599 per month lease price of the old model.

Buying is cheaper too. Before VAT, customers in Europe will pay only 16,000 Euros, or just under $22,000 before tax incentives. This should make the new Electric Drive more price-competitive, considering the car's two-person seating layout and relatively low performance.

Other upgrades

As well as the physical and fiscal improvements, the 2012 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive sports a new bright green and white paint scheme, with white-painted wheels. Other colors are now also available. It also gains the white LED daytime running lights from recently upgraded Fortwo models, and an iPhone cradle is available to make it easier for drivers to use the Smart app.

We've not driven the 2012 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive yet - it was unavailable to drive at Frankfurt, but the upgrades and improved pricing options certainly give it a kick in the right direction.

You can follow more of our Frankfurt show coverage here.


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