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Wednesday, December 09, 2009
smart electric drive - Road Test
Image: © 2009 theirEarth.com

Electric smart cars are great!

theirEarth Motoring had an opportunity to test drive the smart electric drive (ed) car last weekend (December 5, 2009) at a special Mercedes-Benz / smart TecDay E-Drive session organized by Daimler AG, the parent company of smart,and held in the Principality Of Monaco. The photo is one that we took of the smart electric drive in front of the famous Monte-Carlo Casino, whose exterior had been decorated for Christmas/New Years. In summary, the smart electric car has a revolutionary design and is a real pleasure to drive in urban environments. The smart electric car has a range of 135 km (84.4 miles) off a full charge, which will take many people to work and back.

Daimler says that there will be a 2009-2010 series production of at least 1000 smart electric vehicles, and that the manufacture of electric smart cars has already started at their Hambach, France production facility. Daimler says it will start volume production of the smart electric drive for the general public for the 2012 model year. As an example of one of the pre-introduction studies is that Daimler is placing 100 smart electric's in Berlin, Germany in a program called "e-mobility", where the general public is be able to sign-up and drive smart electric drive's on short-term rentals.

The smart electric car is powered by a lithium ion power pack supplied by Tesla Motors of San Carlos, California. The 1000 smart electrics in introductory worldwide testing have battery packs with a storage capacity of 16.5 kWh and a total range from a full charge of 135 kilometres (84.4 miles). The acceleration of the smart ed is brisk with times from 0 to 60 km/h taking just 6.5 seconds, and delivering a quick launch from a standing start. The smart's electric motor has a power output of 30 kW and a maximum torque of 120 Nm. Daimler says that the smart electric drive can be fully charged off a household outlet for less than 2 Euros.

We spent an excellent day with Daimler's engineers in Monaco and had a chance to test the new smart electric around Monaco's roads, where some of the streets also double as the F1 circuit for the Grand Prix. Its a great route to assess the overall capability and handling of the car, and coming down the ex-Loew's 180-degree corner, we found the very low centre of gravity caused by having all of the heavy major drive components at chassis floor level produced excellent handling.

The smart electric drive has very precise turn in and turn out handling, and is very responsive to driver input. The brakes are incredibly effective and the only improvement area from our test that we communicated to Daimler's engineers was to improve the brake pedal travel before the pads engage the discs, but this may be just personal preference on our part. Daimler says the top speed of the smart electric drive is electronically limited to 100 km/h.

Some of the other unique features in the smart electric drive are an Internet smart car web site where one can monitor the charging of your car when it is connected to a plug-in power point. This adaptive charging system identifies a charging profile dependent on the state of the battery and the type of charging station. Daimler is currently both leading and also part of ISO (International Standards Organization) technical committees to establish worldwide standards for vehicle charging plug profiles, charging station design, and battery constuction and recycling standards

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