First Drive: 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive smart reviews first drives electric green news
2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. Click image to enlarge

Smart Fortwo electric pricing announced

Manufacturer’s web site
Smart Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric

Berlin, Germany – The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, arriving in Canada spring of 2013, has had quite a gestation period.

According to Dr. Annette Winkler, vice president of Smart, “The ForTwo, which we introduced in 1998, was designed from the beginning to be electric.”
Nine years later in 2007, the first Smart electric fleet was tested in London. Subsequently, about 2,000 generation-two units in 16 countries took part in test drive initiatives – some in Toronto.

I drove a gen-two Smart ForTwo Electric Drive in Germany a couple of years ago and yes, it got around, but it was dead slow and felt underdeveloped.
Gen-three is a whole new ball game. This one is definitely ready for prime time – assuming your prime time consists of short urban hauls with plenty of charge time factored into your schedule.

Here in Berlin, the 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive felt very smart indeed. Not least because there are over 100 public charging stations in the city, and with European household current at 220 volts, it’s plug and go – if you can call a seven-hour zero-to-full charge time “go.” In Canada, purchasers will have to pony up for a 240-volt home charging station (about $2,500).

First Drive: 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive smart reviews first drives electric green news
First Drive: 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive smart reviews first drives electric green news
2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. Click image to enlarge

The 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive will be priced at $26,990 for the Coupe and $29,990 for the Cabriolet. This is before the provincial rebates, to the tune of $8500 in Ontario, for example.

Maneuvering silently through the winding, narrow, and congested Berlin streets, feeling the instant shove of electric torque (without the incessant lurching of the gas model’s transmission-from-hell), darting through holes in the traffic and parking, well, anywhere, this was a very happy Smart at home in its world. And it made me happy.

In reality the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive will function in North America mainly as an eco-trinket for early urban adopters, sharing space in the garage with at least one other vehicle. But it is a cheeky and charming trinket that’ll tickle you green for every silent kilometre covered.

Range anxiety? “Range is not an issue for our customers.” says Ms. Winkler. “They want solutions for urban mobility.” Translation: If you keep this guppy in its fish bowl and don’t expect to run with the sharks, the claimed 145-km range in city traffic will do just fine. Running at its 125 km/h max on Ontario’s Highway 401 will see your range drop faster than (Toronto mayor) Rob Ford’s approval rating.

The 55-kW electric motor (74 hp, 96 lb-ft) is a Daimler/Bosch joint venture, and with a 0–100 km/h time of 11.5 seconds, this electric Smart leaves the 1.0L three-cylinder gas car in its dust. Additionally, the clutch-less single-step transmission means bye-bye to the gas Smart’s halting five-speed sequential box and the accompanying “Smart head-bob”. Acceleration is strong, smooth, and linear.




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).