With the start of the first electrically driven test fleet in 2007 in London, smart also took on a pioneering role in the field of electric mobility. As early as 2005 the company presented the smart electric drive as a one-off vehicle. In 2009 smart launched the second generation of the smart fortwo electric drive, with the model introduced in 18 markets. From June 2012 the third generation of the smart fortwo electric drive also succeeded in winning wide-ranging buyers for its innovative and forward-looking drive concept.
In 2007 a vision that the company had from the very beginning and that was always planned for in the design became a reality: urban mobility with zero local emissions. Still based on the first smart generation, the company started a project with 100 smart electric drives in London. The cars were used by numerous customers, including the London police.
The smart electric drive came with everything that makes a smart a smart – but without a combustion engine. A 30 kW/41 hp magnetic motor ran at the rear of the smart fortwo electric drive, powered by a constant high-performance, high-temperature battery made from environmentally compatible sodium-nickel-chloride. It was accommodated in the underbody, which means that the interior space is not compromised.
Boasting NEDC consumption of just 12 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometres and zero carbon dioxide emissions, the smart fortwo electric drive was the most economical and climate-friendly alternative in urban traffic. When charged, the two-door car could travel around 115 kilometres (EUDC). When the battery was empty, it could be charged at any 230 volt power socket – at least 1000 times. This means that the battery could last for up to ten years. It took four hours to charge the battery to 80 percent capacity and eight hours to charge it to full capacity.
Acceleration from zero to 60 km/h was at the same level as the petrol version, the maximum speed was 112 km/h. Furthermore, as a zero emission car the smart fortwo electric drive enjoyed tax advantages in many countries and was exempt from local restrictions such as the London congestion charge. The small electric car therefore offered a combination of agility, economy and environmental compatibility that is unique in this class.
2008: The smart fortwo electric drive enters series production
At the Paris Motor Show in 2008 smart presented the latest smart fortwo series with electric drive to an international audience for the first time. In real-world driving the zero-local-emission smart fortwo electric drive initially demonstrated its advantages in the project "e-mobility Berlin". This underlined the leading role of the young car brand on the way to environmentally friendly, sustainable concepts for individual mobility of the future.
Market launch followed in 2009, the model was launched in 18 markets. The objective was to gather as much experience as possible about how customers use and charge electric vehicles. The huge demand exceeded all expectations. Instead of the planned 1000 vehicles more than 2000 smart fortwo electric drives were produced in Hambach.
2012: The third-generation smart fortwo electric drive is launched
12 June 2012 – this date marked the starting signal for the first real alternative to the usual refuelling stops. The launch of the new smart fortwo electric drive meant that smart customers could now enjoy even more fun at the wheel of an attractively priced vehicle that had the familiar compact dimensions – as a coupé or a cabriolet. With its 55 kW electric motor the smart fortwo electric drive accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h in 4.8 seconds, and with a maximum speed of 125 km/h driving pleasure is also guaranteed on urban motorways. The 17.6 kWh battery enables the urban two-seater to travel approximately 145 kilometres in city traffic without producing any local emissions. The new sale&care model makes opting into electric mobility particularly attractive: it offers customers an opportunity to buy, finance or lease the vehicle at an attractive price and to rent the battery for a monthly fee.
2012 also saw the introduction of the first smart with just two wheels: The smart ebike features an unconventional design in line with the style of the brand, functions appropriate for city use and high technology standards which are reflected by an extremely efficient high-performance drive package, among other merits.
Moreover, in 2013 the smart fortwo was the first all-electric vehicle from a European importer in China. In Germany, the electric smart established itself as the market leader among battery-electric vehicles within a very short space of time with a market share of around 40 percent and was able to maintain this position for three years in a row. At times the sales figures for the smart fortwo electric drive in the USA accounted for 25 percent of all smarts sold there. In 2014 and 2015 the "American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy" voted it the "most environment-friendly car in the USA" twice in succession.
The smart electric drive also contributed to the success of the brand as part of the car2go fleet with 1400 cars in three cities. As car2go vehicles alone, the smart electric drive has covered more than 35 million km in demanding everyday use since the launch.