The smart electric fortwo – billed as the least expensive electric vehicle on the U.S. market – is making its way to dealerships, Mercedes-Benz USA said this week, with an interesting twist: You can buy the car without a battery if you want to.
The Daimler division said that “in response to consumer uncertainty about battery performance and longevity, the fortwo will offer customers an innovative acquisition option: buy or lease the vehicle with or without the battery.”
Here’s how that works:
The new option, called Battery Assurance Plus, enables a customer to buy the vehicle only – without the battery – for $19,990 and separately rent the battery (the performance of which is guaranteed for up to 10 years) for $80 a month plus taxes. For leasing customers, the total monthly payment is $199 with the battery rental included. Battery Assurance Plus also covers annual maintenance on the battery and, if necessary, replacement. The rental contract for the battery is transferrable for up to 10 years with no mileage restrictions.
As we’ve reported, the smart fortwo is one of the smallest vehicles on the road today, at less than nine feet long and barely five feet wide. The first smart EV prototypes hit the streets of London in 2007. The next generation of smart EVs then became available worldwide in 2009. Two-hundred fifty of the EVs were shipped to the U.S. for early adopters and the carshare program, Car2go.
Now the vehicle “has started rolling out the smart electric fortwo, the most affordable electric vehicle in the U.S. market (based on Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), to smart dealers across the country,” Daimler said.
MBUSA said it expects “most customers will opt for the Battery Assurance Plus option, based on its popularity in Europe,” but for those buying the battery with the car, “the smart fortwo coupe carries an MSRP of $25,000 while the cabriolet is priced at $28,000.”
That’s all before any incentives, including the big federal tax credit that can be worth as much as $7,500.