The electric vehicle wave gains momentum
Daimler’s smart fortwo has been around almost 15 years – since 1998. The electric drive version has been tested in real world applications in Daimler’s own car2go car share program in various locations around the globe since late last year. San Diego was the first location for an all electric fleet of 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles starting last November, followed shortly by Amsterdam which is also an all electric fleet. As we mentioned in our earlier article, this is an innovative way to get the car into the hands of the public without actually having to sell or lease them to individual customers. The San Diego market has already signed up over 6,000 users for the service just since November.
So what does this miniscule electric car have to offer? A 55 kilowatt electric motor (74 horsepower) provides a top speed of 78 miles per hour. The car has a smallish 17.6 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery pack, but since it only seats two and is lighter than its current crop of competitors, that little battery should take you about 90 miles of driving around town. You will want to reduce that a fair amount if you are brave enough to take it on the freeway. For those looking for a true city car this could be an attractive alternative, though it won’t be coming to America for awhile.
In its European debut, the electric drive will be offered as a coupe and a cabriolet with a pricing premium for chopping off the top. The coupe starts at $23,638 based on current currency conversion rates and the cabrio starts at $27,500. Not bad, right? Those prices don’t include the battery. If you want the battery (which we think you might), battery rental starts at $81.00 per month. If you prefer, you can buy the car including the battery for $29,600 or $33,463 respectively. These prices include Germany’s 19 percent value added tax. This looks like it gives us a good handle on the retail cost of a 17.6 kWh battery pack – just shy of $6,000 or right around $340 per kWh. At least that’s what Daimler is charging for their battery pack. That number ($340 per kWh) is significantly lower than you will find tossed around by most that play this guessing game regarding battery pack cost in existing and near future EVs. For example – Tesla’s website offers a 20 kWh battery upgrade for $10,000 on their Model S, which works out to $500 per kWh. The next step up offers a 25 kWh upgrade for the same $10,000, which equates to $400 per kWh. $340 per kWh is also quite a bit less than the amount that a LEAF owner should expect to pay for their battery pack modules. That brings up an interesting question – we have seen various posts about wrecked LEAFs here and there. We wonder what the wrecking yards are asking for a LEAF battery pack?
The smart fortwo electric drive is available to order in Germany now with delivery expected in late summer. Daimler expects to offer the car in over 30 markets ultimately. No information about a US release is currently available.