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Meet the 2013 Smart Electric Drive: America’s Least Expensive EV

All-new All-electric City Car Kicks off 11-city Tour

Charles Krome
by Charles Krome
April 16, 2013
3 min. Reading Time

Here’s an interesting little factoid: When the 2013 Smart Electric Drive goes on sale here later this spring, it already will represent the third generation of EVs from the brand. Surprised? I was, but it’s not like Smart’s EV sales are helping much with awareness. Consider: According to the Hybrid Cars Dashboard, the brand sold just 139 units of its all-electric Smart Fortwo during all of last year—and has delivered just two in the first quarter of 2013.

But here’s another surprise: Rather than giving up, the brand is launching the 2013 Smart Electric Drive as an all-new entry in the electric vehicle marketplace, supported by the 11-city “FunTestDrive” tour that will visit:

  • Los Angeles (April 19-28)
  • Portland, Oregon (May 2-3)
  • San Francisco (May 11-12)
  • San Diego (May 18-19)
  • Dallas (May 25-26)
  • Atlanta (June 1-2)
  • Miami (June 8-9)
  • Washington, D.C. (June 15-16)
  • Hoboken, N.J. (June 22-23)
  • Brooklyn (June 29-30)
  • Chicago (July 6-7)

Visitors can expect plenty of opportunities to drive and learn more about the 2013 Smart Electric Drive during the events, more details about which can be found at: www.SmartCarFunDrive.com.

As for the car itself, perhaps the key detail is that it will be the most affordable electric vehicle in the country, brandishing an MSRP of $25,000; to put that into perspective, the cost of the all-electric 2013 Fiat 500e will start at $32,500. And those numbers are before factoring in the growing array of special incentives offered by federal, state and local governments. Thus, taking into account solely the $7,500 tax credit from the U.S. government, the net price of the 2013 Smart Electric Drive comes down to $17,500; in California, which offers an additional $2,500 in state incentives, the net cost of the car would be just $15,000.

You also get advantages like those covered on the next page …

2013 Smart Electric Drive: Spec Check

The diminutive footprint of the 2013 Smart Electric Drive—which will be discussed below—makes it an ideal candidate for an electrical powertrain, allowing it to get by with a 55-kW electric motor that makes 47 hp and 96 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s a lot fewer horses than in the standard Smart Fortwo, but a lot more torque, and the result is that the Smart EV delivers a lower top speed (of 78 mph) but quicker acceleration (with a 0-60 time of 11.5 seconds).

Frankly, it should be plenty of power for the car’s urban-oriented drivers, who are unlikely to spend too much time piloting the 2013 Smart Electric Drive at its performance limits. Those owners will no doubt be more interested in the Smart’s efficiency numbers, and here the tale of the tape includes an EPA-certified all-electric driving range of 76 miles; that’s just a tick beyond the expected range of the 2013 Nissan LEAF and about 11 miles less than provided in the Fiat 500e.

On the other hand, per Smart: “In real world driving however, the customer may achieve closer to 90 miles on a full charge, which is reflected in the European testing. (European models have been certified at 145 km on a full charge, which translates to roughly a 90-mile range.)”

In the EPA’s MPGe ratings, the 2013 Smart Electric Drive will slot into the EV small-car segment* as follows:

  • Smart Electric Drive—122 MPGe city/93 MPGe highway/107 MPGe combined
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV—126 MPGe city/99 MPGe highway/112 MPGe combined
  • Fiat 500e—122 MPGe city/108 MPGe highway/116 MPGe combined
  • Honda Fit EV—132 MPGe city/105 MPGe highway/118 MPGe combined
  • Scion iQ EV—138 MPGe city/105 MPGe highway/121 MPGe combined

*Note: The EPA has not yet provided official ratings for the 2013 Nissan LEAF.

The 2013 Smart Electric Drive offers competitive charging times, too, with the ability to go from 20 to 80 percent charged in about 3.5 hours using a 240-volt charging unit and to fully “refill” a depleted battery pack in approximately 6 hours.


2013 Smart Electric Drive: The Size Surprise

Okay, let’s now deal with the size issue: Yes, the 2013 Smart Electric Drive is a small car. Its total length of 106.1 inches is some 20 inches shorter than the wheelbase of the Ford F-150. But it’s important to note that the Smart car’s cabin is relatively spacious—with the emphasis on “relatively,” of course.

Since the 2013 Fiat 500e is launching right around the same time as the 2013 Smart Electric Drive, we’ll take the Italian EV as our benchmark, noting the vehicle is 142.4 inches in length, 64.1 inches wide and 60.1 inches tall.

Now, while the 2013 Smart Electric Drive is 36.4 inches shorter in length than the 500e, it’s only 2.7 inches narrower, and actually about a half an inch taller. As a result, the Smart entry offers 39.7 inches of front headroom (.8 inches more than the Fiat) and 41.2 inches of front legroom (a .5-inch advantage for the Smart). The Electric Drive provides more dedicated cargo space, too, with 7.8 cubic feet that can be stretched to 12 cubic feet if you fill the cargo hold right to the roof. The Fiat’s rear cargo area is rated at 7 cubic feet. 

It’s also worth mentioning that those dimensions stand up fairly well even against bigger vehicles, like the Honda Civic Coupe. Compared to that car, the 2013 Smart Electric Drive features an extra 1.6 inches of headroom and just an inch less in terms of legroom. Further, although the Smart has less shoulder room, engineers have made the most of what there is by using a slightly staggered seat configuration in which the passenger sits just a bit farther back than the driver.



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