When it comes to electric cars, the names “Tesla” or “Nissan” usually come to mind, but Smart has been peddling its diminutive Fortwo Electric Drive for quite some time. That task has become harder as the electric version has languished on the old Fortwo platform, while gasoline models got a complete overhaul for the 2016 model year.
Smart is finally rectifying that, though. A redesigned Fortwo Electric Drive will debut this fall at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. The coupe will be followed by a convertible version, and an electric variant of the four-seat Forfour (which isn’t sold in the U.S.). Smart parent Daimler confirmed this news in a barrage of announcements relating to green-technology initiatives.
Smart was light on actual details about the new electric models, but it did say they will continue to use battery packs from fellow Daimler subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive, rather than from an outside supplier, as several other carmakers do. Daimler is planning to enter the energy storage business as well, and believes Smart battery packs could be reused in stationary energy storage systems after they’ve degraded too much for continued use in cars.
All three electric Smart models will use the same electric motor, which will be manufactured by Renault in France. Smart partnered with Renault on development of the current-generation Fortwo platform, which is shared with the French manufacturer’s Twingo. Renault has plenty of electric car experience: its Zoe was the bestselling electric car in Europe last year, and partner Nissan’s Leaf is the bestselling electric car in history.
The next-generation Fortwo Electric Drive should be an improvement over the current model thanks to its new platform, but Smart will still have to address issues of performance and range. The 2016 Fortwo Electric Drive coupe is rated at just 68 miles of range by the EPA, hindering its practicality significantly. Still, Smart does have one advantage: the Fortwo Electric Drive convertible is the only all-electric convertible available in the U.S., and that will likely remain the case with the new model.
The new Smart Fortwo Electric Drive will make its official debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show this fall. It will go on sale in the U.S. before the end of the year, likely as a 2017 model.