SmartUSA invited us Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass to drive some early prototype versions of their Fortwo EV due out in January 2012. Outside of the pleasing electric whine coming from the motor positioned behind you, the little Fortwo Electric Drive performs much in the same darty, well-planted way that the gasoline version does despite the additional 308 pounds brought on by the batteries. And much like the gasoline version, people ooh and ahh at every intersection, red light, and attempt to park the little bugger. The green wheels and massive “Electric Drive” sticker weren’t exactly helping us fly below the radar.
More after the jump…
Mums the word on pricing and annual production volume at this point but we’re told the Tesla-provided 30kw (that’s equivalent to 41hp and 81.5 torque) electric motor has a range of 82 miles thanks to the vehicle’s 16.5 kwh lithium-ion battery. Charge time for a 220V outlet (thats the same one that runs your washing machine) is roughly 8 hours, about the time you sleep each night if you don’t write about cars for a living. Look for a Daimler motor in the production Fortwo that hits the streets in 2012.
Much like Mini did, Smart is readying an early allotment of 1,500 pre-production cars, like the ones pictured here, for a pilot program beginning this fall. With help from a $7,500 federal tax credit, Smart will subsidize the cost of these largely hand built units ($599/month for 48 months) in an effort to gather valuable R&D data from the test units. Of the 250 units Americans will get, 80% will go into corporate fleets. So, between now and 2012, maybe you will see one of the 50 customer driven prototypes rolling around a city near you. Actually, it has to be in Portland, San Jose, Orlando, Indianapolis or the I-95 corridor (DC/NJ/NY/Mass).