back to article Smart Fortwo Electric Drive e-car

If the key to making a good e-car is keeping the size and weight down then the Smart Fortwo - a fine example of what can be achieved with a clean sheet of paper, an open mind and no regard for such bourgeois eccentricities as rear seats or a boot - should make an ideal candidate for electrification. Smart Fortwo iPhone app …

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Happy

I think the Reg missed out on a caption.

Smart For Two- Electric Boogaloo.

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Meh

Looks grand

But I'm not sure how anyone can give it a rating without a price attached. I'd love something like this on the Isle of Wight (where I'm never over 40 miles from my house), and if it's in the same budget range as the petrol version, I'd be tempted.

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Boffin

Its a friggin joke!

The Smart car was DOA from the start. Penske motors gave back their franchise to Mercedes. ( http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/18/autos/smart-car-penske-mercedes.fortune/index.htm )

The concept of the car was flawed at the start.

For those who live in the city, most live in apartments or row houses. If you own a garage space, you usually have only one space. So you need a car that best serves your purpose.

If you live in the suburbs, you may have the garage space, but you need to be able to travel at highway speeds.

The point is that city dwellers may only travel short distances, but they need a car that has more than two seats and no luggage space. If you live in the burbs, as a second car, you need something which is capable of traveling at highway speeds.

For those who could afford to have a specialized car like the smart, it makes no sense because of the costs of ownership when compared to something which is more practical.

As a city dweller who walks to work, I have a jeep because I need something I can count on in the winter, and haul stuff around. When it comes time to go grocery shopping, my wife usually teams up with some of the neighbors or friends to make the most of the trip.

I'm all for electric cars as long as we have nuke plants supplying the electricity. (Its still the only clean, abundant, and consistent source of power.) I'd still take an electric mini over the smart car because its more practical.

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Dear G-Wiz:

That's how you do it.

Give it less battery and a 450cc generator: I'll take one!

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Yep

With 2 x 230V 13 amp sockets, it just needs one of these puppy's in the "boot" for backup:

http://www.justgenerators.co.uk/pages/HondaEU20i.htm

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Devil

:O

The lemmings may hear you coming as well, before they kamakazi in front of you.

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Mmmm .. nice

When my 8 year old smart 4 2 gives up I'd love to replace it with one of these ... not sure I could use it for holidays like I do now though (up to 400 miles per tank verses 84)

Agree with the idiot pedestrians bit, they jump out even when only 10 feet from a light controlled crossing (bring in Jay-Walking laws and book 'em Danno).

Also agree with the rear view mirror .. okay if you are 5 foot girly but not if you are 6 footer .. after 8 years its still the only thing I really dislike about the Smart (my wife hates the wimpy horn though).

Overall a Smart is a quality car and apart from the usual expensive parts (£500 for a steering wheel, £230 for a headlight unit), its a cracker of a vehicle and is really good at getting up country hills as well ... with ABS and Traction control it has been fantastic during the snow of the last two years.

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Noise

Most cars are pretty quiet now, it's largely the sound of tyres that you hear now.

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Title? We don' need no steenkin' title...

Bring back the Roadster and the Roadster Coupe, add a few kW/H to the battery and I'm right there...

--

JG

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QOTD

"That near silence can be a bit of an issue in car parks and built-up areas - the number of idiot pedestrians who stepped out in front of me over the course of a week beggared belief. Forget fitting electric cars with an audible means of approach, we need to start running these buffoons over in the interests of Darwinian selection."

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Tickled

"Forget fitting electric cars with an audible means of approach, we need to start running these buffoons over in the interests of Darwinian selection." :-)

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Not funny

You're moving half a ton of metal silently, you'd better make sure you can stop or they notice you somehow.

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Tickled... by 890kg of metal

Of course we need to run the buffoons over. After all, in the UK, cars only manage to kill 800 people who are too stupid to get out of the way each year. By sneaking up on them we could get so many more. And, after all, they must be stupid 'cos they're not in cages, so they deserve a little tickle. Thinking* by J. Clarkson.

*Copyright Top Gear 2011. No actual neurons were harmed by overwork in the course of these thoughts.

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Stop

Your right, it's not funny

It is completely not funny that people are walking right out in front of a moving vehicle without performing any sort of check to see if there is someone coming first. The author's off-hand comment may have been meant to bring this up light-heatedly, but it is a serious issue - a distressing number of pedestrians today should be ticketed for jaywalking and being a public nuisance - and after their 3rd time in a year, they can spend 30 days down in the local jail to contemplate how lucky they are that they haven't been ran over.

The sad part is that while vehicle noise makers are pushed primarily for the visually impaired, it is rarely the visually impaired I have problems with. Between a certain amount of natural caution and the distinctive white cane, I pretty much always know when I need to be aware that a person may simply be UNABLE to see me. The same is not true of someone who simply chooses not to pay attention, and this is why many of us long for the days of jaywalking enforcement, and until then, make jokes such as the author did in this article.

-d

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Stop

And...

Don't forget those wonderful caring parents who dump their children into the road in pushchairs before checking that the way ahead is safe.

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Anonymous Coward

it's a fair point...

...i was once walking down the road with an acquaintance who, when questioned about walking across the road without looking, spoke words of wisdom to the effect of "cars have brakes, I don't". i'm fairly certain he is now either dead or banged up, and likely society is much better off for it

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FAIL

Yes....

..of course pedestrians should should be more wary, BUT, humans rely on their hearing far more than you think.

Don't belive me, try playing a game of squash with a set of headphones on and music blasting out.

See how shit your game becomes.

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@Daniel 4

There's no such offence as "jaywalking" in the UK. We trust adults to cross roads and we trust drivers to be aware of pedestrians.

The US has three times as many road fatalities per capita as the UK.

You might want to rethink your assumptions.

(we also teach children the difference between the contraction "you're" and the possessive pronoun "your" ... but that's probably not related to your inability to see pedestrians)

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Darwinian pedestrians

We tend to forget that all drivers become pedestrians at some point. I assume all the drivers moaning about pedestrians are model pedestrians when they do leave their vehicles, waiting for the green man at pelican crossings, walking the extra 20 yards to the zebra crossing then back again to get to the shop opposite, deciding not to cross when the gap looks just big enough, if taken at a run etc. etc.

All of us rely on various senses for road crossing, including hearing. In Zurich I was nearly hit by a tram (near silent) as being a tad tired (not emotional) and new to the idea of vehicles being on the wrong side of the road I looked the wrong way - it only missed me as I thought to check just in case there was a cyclist ignoring the usual road rules. Does this mean tourists should all be mown down? How about partially sighted people - ban them too?

Surely the road and transport network is there for all of us, and all of should be considerate to each other? Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all do dumb things from time to time, as the other road users we should be alert to the possibility and simply not hit them. Easy to do if we all follow the rules and drive safely.

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Stop

Agreed.

And let's not forget the cretins who pull out of their driveways with little-to-no consideration for the fact that they're crossing a footpath, invariably with no visibility due to the 6ft high hedges surrounding keeping the riff-raff at bay. Sound is quite important.

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Mushroom

@Some Beggar

Ah, thank you. I was waiting for someone to call me out on that. Both general topics, really.

The UK may not have "jaywalking" offenses, but are there truly no other offenses to handle the equivalent problem? If not, I'd suggest that you have a hole in your legal system - but I'd also fairly acknowledge that that is your problem.

Road fatalities per capita is a STUPID comparison between our nations considering the geographic disparities; I suspect that a number of our problems simply do not apply over there (just one - when is the last time you did a 31 hour straight drive, stopping for gas, food, 5 minute breaks and to swap drivers? Happens a surprising amount over here - though obviously they don't usually cause accidents which hurt pedestrians, they cause people to fall asleep and ram their vehicles at highway speeds into various obstacles). Of course, the same applies in the other direction, but that only reinforces my point.

LAST COMMENT ON THE IMPORTANT TOPIC:

My detractors (and several others) here appear to fail to grasp that, as a driver, I very much DO NOT WANT TO HIT SOMEONE. I've seen that happen to someone I know - someone who was, even in this VERY litigious society, later cleared from responsibility (crowds of witnesses do help). Completely aside from what should be the obvious human empathy, I do not want to live with the resulting feelings of guilt, even if it is because a damn stupid pedestrian who appears determined to demonstrate the negative value their genes provide to humanity. I post enthusiastically about this because I don't want people getting hurt. It doesn't take much - drivers paying attention when they should, pedestrians paying attention when they should - that alone would make a drastic improvement. Instead, suggest that one or the other is at fault, even partially, and the howls of outraged protest will drown you out before you can even explain what you mean. It makes me sick - grow up, people.

Finally, the BIG favor you did me! This is a tech site. I don't work for you. I never intend on using anything here as a job reference. I communicate here for a combination of my own amusement, and because I think sharing knowledge is a good thing. I am NOT going to put even one tenth of the editorial effort into my posts here that I do into even an informal email to a professional colleague. I can usually go back and find at least one spelling/grammatical error in each of my longer posts. I DON'T CARE. Neither should you. The mere fact that you have to resort to this level of nit picking in what is the online equivalent to a pub conversation merely tells me that you realize that you really have no good logical arguments to present.

Thank you, I am done with you. I may have more to say to you when you demonstrate that you have gained understanding.

-d

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@Daniel 4

Too many words. Too many upper case SHOUTIES. Not going to read. Sorry.

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FAIL

Epic Fail

If I wanted to drive a golf cart, I'd have bought a Cushman.

Sorry but if you want a small electric car, you should consider converting a mini Cooper. (Or is that in bad taste since BMW now owns them?)

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Happy

@ Ian Michael Gumby

Electric mini - already done, and currently road-testing, even in the UK

Cushman - the fact you can name a golf cart manufacturer alarms me greaty for some reason. Why ruin a good walk, when you can remove the walking part?

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Mushroom

@AC

That's the point. The Electric Mini which was done a couple of years ago as a pet project was/is a better e Car than this car will ever be.

I'm not trying to compare this car to a Tesla (The dealership here is about a click down the road from me.) That would be unfair.

This 'car' should be compared to a golf cart. You don't like Cushman carts, you have Yamaha,

The smart isn't really suited for highway driving, and even in the city not so much.

As to the 'golf cart'. Yeah I know golf carts since I grew on a golf course as a caddy. ;-)

Don't dismiss golf carts, they have a lot more uses than just being used by the players.

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cusman

@AC 14:26

I imagine he googled it. I would have done.

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FAIL

48pt Bold

Can we have this shouted from the roof tops please?

"Ideally, you need secure or off-road parking to charge but an extension lead running through the garden and joining the charge cable in a weather-proof housing proved more than up to the job. Luckily, I can park right next to my garden wall, keeping the charge cable more or less hidden from casual glances and felonious passers-by."

I live in a city, my usual commute would be ideal for a leccy motor, but most nights its a 5 minute walk from the 'different every night' parking space I can get. So re-charging is impossible.

The reason hydrocarbons work is that we can fill a tank of many hundreds of kW equivalents in a few moments. Until some boffin can fix that, they wont have mass market appeal. Its not 'range anxiety' thats the problem, its refueling.

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So - where do you park during the day?

Why not charge up at work - where spaces are more reliable - 3 phase is probably available as well.

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Terminator

All it needs

is for a manufacturer such as Smart to tie up with BP, Total, etc. and offer the ability to switch your dead batteries for charged ones at a "petrol" station.

Sure, it requires a modification to the car design, but the station can store ready-charged batteries and charge you for a) the cost to charge and b) the convenience of an instant charge.

This way, if you can't charge it home, you can pop in to a garage on the way to/from work and quickly swap your batteries.

Assuming they're making their money, the only other concern for the driver is that they remove old batteries from circulation.

I think this is the only viable solution until almost-instant charging is possible.

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Facepalm

Ever seen the 'Electric Vehicle Only' charging bays?

Plenty of London Boroughs are introducing 'Electric Vehicle Only' bays next to chargers.

Most are openly looking for 'ideas' of where to put future chargers / bays, I imagine the primary criteria is "Who in the Borough will actually use it?" I'm sure that speaking to your council and applying a bit of encouragement could easily get a bay installed near you.

And before you say "But someone will park a normal car there", remember how 'efficient' parking wardens are.

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Happy

Project Better Place

If you haven't heard of Project Better Place, look it up - this is what they're proposing/testing.

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FAIL

@John...

...sure, I'm sure the company will happliy stump up several thousand pound to have the pavement dug up, cables laid, posts installed, possible incoming feeds upgraded. Oh let's not forget the annual checks, the liabilty insurance, repairs.

Oh and what output, 3 pin 240? Three phase? What size commando's?

And of the course who pays the bill you? The company? What about shared tennant buildings?

Tax implications if the company provides you with free fuel, which would class as a perk?

Yes sound simple doesn't it?

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Hmmmm....

So if I fit a dummy charging receptacle to my car and get an appropriate lead I'll be able to just park in those bays? Can parking wardens spot the difference between a real electric car and a fake one (I guess the tax disc might give it away if they looked that closely)

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Getting there.

Looks like an ideal town car. Hopefully the price won't be too high because I can really see this taking off for commuters that live in those fancy new blocks with secure parking. The speed figures seem ideal for what it's designed for: Getting to 30 without annoying anyone behind you at the lights and maybe a bit quicker on out of town roads.

Doubt I'd have one though as my lifestyle doesn't suit it, but if it keeps the train moving towards real alternatives to hydrocarbon based driving then that's cool.

Yes, I know the "fuel" comes from coal/ gas/ whatever, but I was referring to onboard hydrocarbon to motion conversion. I like that while there are emissions from the elec generation, they aren't spewing out in congestion in town centres where folk can breathe the smog in.

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Joke

Make it noisier

The car should generate its own noise to warn pedestrians of its approach.... might I suggest a TIE fighter fly by noise.

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Pint

Why the joke icon?

That would be freakin' awesome!

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Oh Yes

Ring tones for cars.

A fantastic idea.

I for one can't wait until some snotty teenage twunt with lowrider pants goes and downloads a Rick Ross ringtone to his car and then drives around the middle class 'burbs (aka "his patch") to the tune of "Every day I'm hustling, hustling hustling, hustling"

<sigh>

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Gold badge

What about..

.. Rick Ashley? Rickrolling v2.0..

If that doesn't get them out of the way they MUST be suicidal - and it is then time to switch on the windscreen wipers instead..

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Ring tones for cars?

Baggsy tracks from "Morris On" by Ashley Hutchings

'Hey diddle dist...'

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting..

...but all the stats just seem...20% too little.

Range: would be better if it was 3 figures

Top speed: should be 75, not 62

80% charge: should be quicker, and there's no 3-phase option?

Power: 40bhp on 'boost'...why not all the time?

I was expecting more TBH. Maybe the production one will be more in line with expectations?

Re: deaf pedestrians - half the time they're in 'ipod land' so don't hear buses or trucks never mind cars, electric or otherwise. I don't want an electric car which makes artificial noises...how crap is that.

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40 bhp on boost

Not going to comment on the rest, but I for one am THRILLED to see a car manufacture finally take advantage of electric motors natural ability to "boost." This is a somewhat oversimplified explanation (if you want more detail, I suggest you go research how to compare DC motors to IN engines), but it's a good starting point.

You see, the main restriction on power output for an electric motor is a combination of maximum voltage and heat buildup from amperage. The motor/cooling system can handle a certain amount of amperage constant, and that is your base power. However, it can also handle considerably more than that, with the understanding that it a) it becomes considerably less efficient, and b) the inefficiency is expressed as heat dumped into the motor. So the motor can take a "boost" of X amount so long as it will take Y amount of time before it overheats. 2 minutes of "boost" is enough for passing, running uphill, etc - the electric drive smart should, despite having a fairly low top speed, have no trouble hugging right at that top speed in most conditions.

Now, you can argue that Smart should have used a larger motor, and then they could have had an even bigger base and boost - but they were clearly shooting for the small commuter market here. If it's too small for you, then it's too small. Besides, I'd see what happens with the actual production models in a year.

-d

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Cost

I don't know what the retail price will be, but the trial was priced at £3571 for the year, payable monthly, excluding servicing, insurance, etc. This had a 10,000 mile limit, with a 4p/mile charge beyond that. A notional P11D value was stated as £14,600.

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while on the subject of cost

How much will an overnight charge add to the leccy bill.

What insane group will your insurance company put this in.

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Insurance

According to the trial prospectus it is group 6E.

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Unhappy

Pedistrain Points

"hat near silence can be a bit of an issue in car parks and built-up areas - the number of idiot pedestrians who stepped out in front of me over the course of a week beggared belief. Forget fitting electric cars with an audible means of approach, we need to start running these buffoons over in the interests of Darwinian selection."

Hum, this could be a problem, for those of use without sight, (I'm blind if you had not guessed). how will we know when an electric car is approaching? I can hear a 'normal' car and judge its distance, but if, however, electric car owners are going to adopt the 'run me over because I'm to stupid to hear/see you coming' approach, I'll have to consider another way of crossing the road.

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At least blind people have an excuse

I think you'll find that (from the outside at least) electric cars make tyre noise just like petrol ones.

Unlike bicycles. I often have to watch peds with 'phones very carefully when they are near the edge of the pavement, and have had plenty of near misses when people step out before they look...

And hitting them will hurt me as much as it hurts them :(

I expect that most blind people don't walk around with 'phones in their ears - one sense missing is manageable, two is getting tricky!

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Visually impaired pedestrians already at risk, are you ok now?

Do you use intersections? Places where it would make logical sense for there to be a cross walk? If you are in a carpark, do you make it a point to "make yourself seen?" If so, between the tire noise (that is still very present, and can be heard as a car comes close to you at slow speeds even in full electric mode) and the general "crossing where people are already looking, both for pedestrians and other cars" you'll be in pretty good shape. I can also say that from experience, unless there is already too much traffic for me to even consider crossing against a light if I were visually impaired, if a car is too far away to hear the tire noise I can pretty much hear the wind noise. The fact of the matter is even internal combustion cars can be really quite these days - the difference between a low rumble you barely hear and a slight whine you barely hear is pretty nominal.

-d

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Blind crossing

As a blind person, I trust you use those crossing points that beep, and not just randomly step out into the road. I think most of the support of the "run 'em over" theory is from people fed up of swerving from adult idiots (not even children) who start crossing without bothering to look and often without bothering to care...

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Flame

@Heyrick

...what those crossing that have a blody great orange light on top? Or those that have a boody great white arrow on a blue circle.

And of course every single road in the UK has a audible crossing doesn't it?

There are ignorant people and then there are idiots, which one are you?

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