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For certain applications, it makes absolute sense

Unlike the smart fortwo cdi hybrid – or indeed the smart crosstown – the smart fortwo ev (electric vehicle), is driven solely by its electric motor (with an output of up to 30 kW/41 bhp). That makes for even lower running costs. Naturally, a purely electric drive is associated with certain limitations, so it is likely only to be suitable for certain applications. For these applications, however, it makes an awful lot of sense.

As mentioned, the running costs themselves, per kilometre, are clearly lower than those of a petrol-driven smart fortwo. And that’s saying something. While the smart fortwo, with a fuel consumption of EUR 0.06 per kilometre, is already well ahead of its competitors, the smart fortwo with electric drive costs a mere EUR 0.02 per kilometre to run.

At its best on short journeys and in urban traffic

Yet the smart fortwo ev’s driving performance is not to be sniffed at: it can accelerate from zero to 60 km/h in much the same time as its petrol-driven counterpart. At higher speeds the electric drive has, unsurprisingly, a somewhat harder time, but nonetheless can manage a top speed of 120 km/h. The figures certainly suggest that this drive could be ideal for urban applications.

Its energy consumption is certainly quite modest: 12 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometres mean it has a range of 110 kilometres. Given the current state of the art in battery technology, this is a very respectable figure. Nonetheless, it is clear from the figures that an electric vehicle is best when travelling short distances. Having said that, it only takes four hours to charge the battery from 20 to 80 percent of its capacity. An empty battery can be fully charged in no more than eight hours, in other words overnight, for example. The charging socket for the power cable is located underneath the filler cap, where the filler neck for diesel or petrol would be in other vehicles.

One forward and one reverse gear

The alternative drive of the smart fortwo ev can be fitted without any need for expensive or time-consuming modifications. The electric motor is located in the rear, exactly where the combustion engine would be in a more conventional vehicle. The transmission, which in the case of the smart fortwo ev has been locked in second gear, is likewise in the rear of the car. That means the smart fortwo ev does not need the smart fortwo’s gearshift knob, since it only uses one forward and one reverse gear.

The charge level indicator for the battery is where the rev counter would be in other vehicles: in a central position on the instrument panel, together with the analogue clock. But that’s all that has changed. The vehicle’s interior and luggage compartment are just as big as before, and even the smart fortwo ev’s sodium-nickel chloride battery is positioned centrally in the car’s underbody.

Here’s more evidence of smart’s willingness to cooperate: like the drives of the smart crosstown and the smart fortwo cdi hybrid, the smart fortwo ev’s electric drive has been created in cooperation with Zytek, a British company with a great deal of competence and experience in developing hybrid and electric drives.