According to Daimler, electric models of the Smart fortwo will begin production next month. The EVs will be produced in France, largely due to the French government's promise to provide financial aid through its PAT (Prime d'amenagement du territoire) subsidy program.
The PAT program, along with other French government subsidies, "will comprise a total of 15 percent of the investment," according to Daimler.
Initial production will consist of 1,000 vehicles. This test fleet will be delivered to select customers in the United States and Europe. The goal of this early production is to iron out any kinks in the technology before the German automaker amps up to full production in 2012. The selected test drivers will have the opportunity to lease the Smart EV for four years or 60,000 kilometers (roughly 37,000 miles). Lease pricing has yet to be revealed.
The Smart EV will look identical to traditional gas and diesel fortwo models. Wheels, aerodynamics and safety structure will all be the same. Even the fuel tank door remains - transitioned into the charging input.
Daimler has announced that the lithium-ion electric engine musters the same amount of power as the diesel equivalent (41 horsepower). Torque is much improved for the electric model, however, with 92.1 lb-ft. delivering an estimated 0-to-30 mph in 6.5 seconds. Top speed is quoted at 70 mph and the vehicle's range will take you up to 72 miles.
In between commutes, the Smart EV requires eight hours to recharge completely (via 220-volt outlet). A quick boost from 20 to 80 percent can be accomplished in four hours.
The Smart EV's electric engine battery was designed with the help of Tesla Motors. Daimler bought a 9.1 percent ownership in the new American startup back in May.