Fortwo Electric Is Here, In A Small Way

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Smart USA’s careful rollout of its first electric version of the Fortwo is officially under way. Finally. (Last June, the Daimler AG company had said the the car would arrive in October 2010.) And not that you’ll likely notice it. A Mindy Kimball of Silver Spring, Md., became the first person to get one of the tiny cars, the company announced, but this isn’t a typical electric vehicle (EV) rollout, a la Volt or Leaf, where a few hundred or so cars dribble into circulation each month. Instead, Smart is leasing the Fortwo Electric Drive to a grand total of 250 people, members of “Team 250.” They’ll be treated like royalty, with access to company EV experts, around-the-clock roadside assistance and other perks.

As for the car, it has a 30-kilowatt magneto-electric motor and 16.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The government estimate on its range is 63 miles (vs. 35 for the Volt in all-electric mode and 73 for Nissan’s Leaf). Using a Level 2 charger – which would need to be specially installed – it can go from 20 percent to 80 percent charged in 3.5 hours, the company said. Fully charging a depleted battery would take about eight hours.

Smart Fortwo electric drive, first customer, Mindy Kimball

image via Smart USA

The Smart plan is to use Team 250 to promote its EV aspirations. Then, the company said, ”Series production on next-generation vehicles for retail sale through Smart USA’s dealer network is expected in 2012.” Smart didn’t outline lease costs, nor did it hint at what the vehicle might sell for next year.

However, those interested in joining Team 250 can get more information at

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.