Daimler beats BMW to the punch, starts production of electric Smart ForTwo

Daimler beats BMW to the punch, starts production of electric Smart ForTwo

Another all electric vehicle is about to enter the fray but instead of being an entirely new creation this vehicle sports a familiar face. German automaker Daimler announced that it has started sales and production of the battery-powered Smart ForTwo, pipping rivals BMW and the company’s upcoming “i” range of electric and plug-in vehicles.

Bloomberg reports that the Daimler has already begun assembly of the gasoline-adverse Smart ForTwo at the company’s Hamach, France factory, which has received a $251 million makeover recently. Both the electric and combustion engine 2013 Smart ForTwo will be built on the same assembly line.

Deliveries are said to begin later this year, while BMW’s launch of its all-electric i3 will not take place until 2013.

“We are making significant investments in the Hambach site” for the electric-powered Smart and the next generation of the city car,” Annette Winkler, head of the Daimler’s small-car brand, said in a statement. “I am convinced that this is money extremely well invested.”

Apart from limited range — the electric Smart ForTwo can travel 90 miles on a single charge – one of the major hurdles automakers by and large have failed to address are prohibitive price points for their electric offerings. To combat this, Daimler will offer customers the option of either leasing the battery in their ForTwo or purchasing it outright.

In Germany, the coupe version will retail for €18,910 ($23,784), while the cabrio will go for €22,000 ($27,672) . Smart USA was quick to point out that pricing may vary from market to market, so Americans may want to hold off before considering this a cheaper alternative to the Mitsubishi i ($31,000), the Nissan Leaf ($37,000), or the Ford Focus Electric ($39,200).

Updated 6/18 with commentary from Smart USA on pricing.

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