Daimler to roll new smart fortwo electric-drive vehicles

daimlersmartcarStuttgart, Germany — Daimler AG has announced that it will start production of its new smart fortwo electric-drive vehicles in mid-November 2009 at its factory in Hambach, France. This second-generation electric-drive vehicle features a highly efficient lithium-ion battery that is housed in a space-saving position between the axles. A 3-kW electric motor is fitted at the rear.

The smart fortwo electric drive can be charged in any 220-volt household socket. In Germany, a full battery charge costs approximately two euros (about $2.86) and is sufficient for a range of around 115 kilometers (about 71 miles), making it a practical alternative for zero-emission driving in urban areas.

The new smart fortwo electric drive will be initially leased to customers in Berlin and other cities in Europe and the U.S., who will provide real-world testing under daily conditions. Leases will be offered for a period of four years and 60,000 kilometers (about 37,000 miles). General production is scheduled for 2012.

Here are a few stats: The electric drive accelerates from 0-60 km/h in 6.5 seconds — just as quickly as a gas model, though the maximum speed has been intentionally limited to 100 km/h for city driving. A fully charged battery is sufficient for up to 115 kilometers. This range is more than enough for city traffic as studies have shown that cars drive an average of 30 to 40 kilometers per day in towns and cities, according to Daimler.

The vehicle’s power electronics supply the electrical system with electric current from the battery via a DC/DC converter. In addition, they also control the heating and air conditioning, for example, to minimize the strain on the battery. Other electronics optimize the battery charge and power consumption.