Hambach, France – The second-generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive will begin production in November 2009, going first into test fleets in Europe and the U.S. later in the year, and then into retail sales by 2012.

The new-generation Smart uses a lithium-ion battery, supplied by Tesla Motors. It is housed between the axles, requiring no additional space in the vehicle, and powering a 30 kW rear-mounted electric motor. Zero to 60 km/h takes 6.5 seconds, while the maximum speed is limited to 100 km/h. It can be charged at any normal household socket and in Germany, a full battery charge costing approximately €2 will be sufficient for a range of about 115 km.

The new Smart will initially be leased to customers in Berlin and other European cities, and in the U.S., who will subject the vehicle to intensive real-world testing. The company said that in 2012, it will be “available to anyone interested.”

The first generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive first went into testing in London, England in 2007, and since then, 100 have been used in customer operation. The new models will be leased for a period of four years and 60,000 km, with the first vehicles destined for the “e-mobility Berlin” project supported by energy provider RWE, the German government, and the city of Berlin. Other units will be leased in Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Milan, Pisa and Madrid, with some going to to cities in the U.S.

The company said that the electric Fortwo will be produced in large volumes from 2012 as a regular model in the Smart range, and will be sold via the Smart dealer network.

Connect with Autos.ca