Auto blogThu, 08 Aug 2013
Electric cars seem to be getting more affordable by the day, and the latest to get a price drop is the 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. With sales currently limited to only a handful of states, the Smart Fortwo ED is preparing for its nationwide rollout by offering a 36-month lease of the Fortwo ED Coupe for as low as $139 per month - or the same price as the non-electric Fortwo. The previous Fortwo ED leases started at $199 a month.
Available until September 3, conditions of this lease include a down payment of $1,999 and signing up for the Battery Assurance Plus battery-lease program, which is a separate lease for the battery at $80 per month. This means that lessees are actually driving the Fortwo ED for just $59 each month, although a mileage cap is set at 30,000 miles. There has been no price drop for those interested in purchasing a 2013 Fortwo ED, however, as has been the case with rival EVs like the Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf and, most recently, the Chevy Volt.
As an added bonus, Smart is also giving its dealers a $2,000 incentive on the Fortwo, which can be used in any way the dealer wishes - local advertising, lowering the asking price for consumers, etc. AutoblogGreen's Sebastian Blanco has put together quite a bit more info on the Smart Fortwo ED lease, click thru to read more.
If you're a fan of Daimler's Smart brand, here is some potentially good news for you today. First, a pair of concept vehicles will be on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month previewing the next-gen Fortwo and Forfour models, and more interestingly, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has stated that are no plans to offer a front-engine, front-drive vehicle for the Smart brand, both reports according to Autocar.
There has been no shortage of concept vehicles from Smart in recent years, but with the Fortwo and Forfour due out in the next year or two, these concepts could be pretty close to the production designs. As for future products beyond these two models, Zetsche told Autocar the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout is a "defining feature" for Smart, and a future crossover model will be based on the new Forfour platform rather than sharing its platform with a more conventional product in the Daimler portfolio.
Smart is celebrating 1.5 million Fortwos built since 1998 at its plant in Hambach, France, before it goes offline for an extended summer break. The 1.5 millionth Fortwo is a white Electric Drive Cabriolet, but it isn't known which market it will be sold in.
The milestone is highlighted by the reason for the extended break, which starts in July and continues through August: The plant will be receiving a 200 million euro upgrade to prepare it for a next-generation Smart vehicle, a newly designed "four-seated urban mobility car" (aka, the 2015 Smart Forfour) that will be available in 2014. In addition, a new, environmentally friendly liquid-paint shop will be built at the plant, replacing the old powder-paint shop and representing the largest individual project in the upgrade, requiring a cool 50 million euro.
For more details on Smart's immediate future, check out the press release below.
After spending a few days with the recalcitrant mechanism that masquerades as a transmission in the Smart Fortwo, we can admit we've pondered all sorts of ways to prematurely end the car's life. An impromptu hardcore off-road excursion has figured prominently in at least one such scenario. Evidently the marketers behind Smart have entertained similar thoughts, or at least spent some time contemplating the old chestnut that goes something like, "Who makes the best off-roader? Hertz." After all, how else can we explain this 49-second spot?
We kid Daimler's pint-sized microcar brand, but the truth is, this is a pretty brilliant little advertisement. It's honest and plays to the Fortwo's major trump card - its tidy dimensions - while having a good sense of humor. According to Ad Week, this commercial comes from BBDO Germany, and was just shown at Cannes, where it won a couple of Gold Lion awards and had the audience cheering. Check it out by scrolling below.
Soon enough, Ford will offer its 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine under the hood of the Fiesta here in the United States, building on the success of the small powerplant overseas. In fact, this success has caused other automakers to take notice, and according to Automotive News Europe, Daimler is now talking to Ford about this engine for use in its own products.
In other markets, Ford offers the 1.0-liter mill under the hood of the Focus (we had the chance to sample this package on our home turf), as well as the B-Max MPV. For this new collaboration, Daimler would use the turbo-three in the next-generation Smart ForTwo, as well as the Renault Twingo, which the German automaker will be collaborating on as part of its alliance with Renault-Nissan. Speaking to AN, a Mercedes-Benz engineer called the 1.0-liter mill an "interesting and impressive engine."
In exchange for details about the EcoBoost inline-three, Daimler will supply Ford with information regarding its Euro6 stratified lean-burn gasoline engine, which is found in the new E-Class sedan.
The SmartForJeremy is a reality, a limited run of the haute couture Smart Fortwo being announced at the Shanghai Motor Show. It has been toned down for production since we first saw it at last year's LA Auto Show but its signature flourish, the wings, remain. Instead replacing the brake lights, though, a smaller set of red-accented wings sit above them. The white interior remains, though the KITT-style wheel has been swapped for a traditional unit.
A collaboration between Mercedes-Benz Cars Advanced Design Studios and Jeremy Scott, it will come in white with white wheels and alubeam accents outside and in. Production starts this month and there will be three powertrain options all in the coupe bodystyle: a standard 55kW Smart ForTwo Electric Drive for 34,800 euro ($45,416 US), a more powerful 60kW Brabus Electric Drive for 40,600 euro ($52,985 US) or a 102-horsepower gasoline-engined Brabus for 33,333 euro ($43,501 US).
It's not for everyone, but if you want to live like it's Fashion Week every week look no further. The press release and video below can tell you more about it.
Smart is continuing to test its upcoming ForFour (seen above) model and the replacement for the ForTwo (pictured at the right), this time doing some cold-weather work in Sweden.
As we've reported previously, the ForFour is an all-new vehicle, and it will have more in common with the smaller ForTwo than the short-lived last model that was co-developed with Mitsubishi. This ForFour is instead a collaborative project with Renault, and could spawn what will ultimately become the new Renault Twingo. Some reports have it that Renault is no longer interested in the Smart partnership, but the fact that these testers were wearing French plates and were spotted caravanning with a French-registered Dacia Duster adds a bit of circumstantial evidence that the match is intact.
The new ForTwo was also spied in these snowy environs. The two-seater is expected to be ready to roll before the ForFour - likely coming to market in 2014. The ForFour, meanwhile, might not show up until 2015.
When it comes to specialty applications of the Smart Fortwo, "off-road motorsports" may seem about as likely as "amphibious assault vehicle." Yet a team has come up with just that (the former, not the latter), creating a rally-ready runabout dubbed the Smart Dakar.
The team used a Fortwo to create a "Smart Buggy 4x4." The creator's website claims that the vehicle is in compliance with FIA regulations, and weighs only 750 kilograms (1,653 pounds). As the name suggests, the intent of this vehicle is to compete in the Dakar Rally, and it looks the part.
It may be the most hard-nosed Smart that you'll ever find, but it has an uphill battle to make it to competition. The race team, headed by Jose Luis "JL" Alvarez, does not have the funds to field a full assortment of vehicles, including two Smarts and a Honda CRF-450, and now all plans have been canceled for this year's Dakar Rally.
Still in the testing phases of the next-generation Smart Fortwo and the new Forfour model, Smart could also be planning a new crossover to reach into a more mainstream vehicle segment. According to Auto Express, soon after the redesigned Fortwo arrives in 2014, the Smart lineup will grow to include the other two models by 2015.
As expected, the renderings of the new Fortwo, Forfour and the unnamed Smart SUV are inspired heavily by recent concepts like the 2011 Forvision Concept and the 2012 Forstars Concept (pictured above). One interesting note is that Auto Express says both the Fortwo and Forfour will offer a removable tablet as a center stack display screen. The report says that while these cars were developed alongside the Renault Twingo, the French automaker will only be using the larger of the two hatchbacks for its new model.
This, reportedly, won't be the only tie up between Daimler and Nissan-Renault, though, as Smart also looks to add a new crossover based on the next-generation Nissan Juke, which could arrive by late 2015.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is an exquisite sports car that probably needs no help flying off dealer lots, even with a starting price of almost $200,000, but Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City has come up with an interesting incentive to sweeten the deal. For buyers who purchase a new SLS AMG from dealer stock before the end of the year, the dealership is throwing in a new Smart Fortwo from its inventory at no charge... with a required coupon no less.
In addition to being a great tactic to get a little free press, the spare car also makes sense as an alternative to the SLS, which measures more than 15-feet long - almost twice the length of a Fortwo - and has a 563-horsepower engine that sucks down gas at the rate of 13 miles per gallon in city driving (and even that's provided you don't give in to the devil on your shoulder). Plus, at the end of the day, this really isn't that big of an incentive. Being given a slow-selling $12,490 car for the purchase of a model starting at $199,500 represents about a six percent incentive, which is along the lines of a $1,900 rebate for a $30,000 car.
To get the free Smart, just visit the Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City Facebook page, redeem the coupon and then go buy yourself a new SLS AMG. Congratulations!