Mercedes-Benz EQ electric car Geneva debut was...a rebranded Smart car

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Unveilings for several key new electric cars were expected during the media days for last week's Geneva auto show.

The Jaguar I-Pace made its formal debut, and the Audi e-tron appeared in camouflage as a sort of full-size teaser display.

But there had been word from Mercedes-Benz that it would introduce an EQ electric car as well.

DON'T MISS: Camouflaged Audi e-tron electric SUV appears at Geneva show

Could this be the production version of the Mercedes-Benz EQC, an all-electric crossover utility built on a dedicated plug-in platform that would be the company's first long-range vehicle?

Well, no.

The EQ vehicle launched at Geneva turned out to be no more than a new label on an existing car: the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, henceforth to be known as the Smart EQ.

2018 Smart EQ ForTwo

2018 Smart EQ ForTwo

Enlarge Photo

The range of Smart EQ models includes not only the ForTwo two-seat coupe and cabriolet sold in North America, but also a ForFour four-seat model not available here.

All use a single rear motor rated at 60 kilowatts (80  horsepower), powered by a 17.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack rated at 57 or 58 miles of range by the EPA in the U.S.

A phone app lets users check battery charge and nearby charging stations, as well as to precondition the cabin temperature before arriving at the car.

CHECK OUT: Mercedes EQC electric SUV reservations open in Norway, for 2019 delivery (Sep 2017)

The Mercedes-Benz EQC electric SUV first appeared as a concept car at the 2016 Frankfurt auto show.

It will compete directly with the 2018 Jaguar I-Pace and 2019 Audi e-tron, as well as the 2020 BMW iX3 crossover.

The newly named Smart EQ now carries the third brand used to indicate the plug-in electric models of the Smart two-seater.

2018 Smart EQ ForTwo Cabrio

2018 Smart EQ ForTwo Cabrio

Enlarge Photo

Low-volume early experimental versions were called Smart EV, logically enough for "electric vehicle."

When the previous generation went into higher production with its third battery pack, it became the Smart Electric Drive, though a certain amount of snorting could be heard in the background at the abbreviation "ED" and its potential confusion with a medical condition in English-speaking markets.

That branding continued through the arrival of the battery-electric version of the first entirely new Smart since the late 1990s original, which launched as a 2016 model with a gasoline engine (now withdrawn from the U.S.), added the plug-in electric Coupe for 2017, and an electric Cabrio for 2018.

European model years work differently from those in North America, so the Smart EQ is a 2018 model in Europe. We'll wait to see if a similar relabeling occurs for the 2019 year in the U.S. and Canada.

For all the coverage of the green-car concepts and production models on display in Switzerland, see our Geneva auto-show news page.

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