Smart shows us its wild side with an energetic Forease+ concept

Does the Smart brand have a future? Unconfirmed reports claim it will be axed in the coming years, but the firm boldly argued it’s alive and well by displaying a fun, energetic concept named Forease+ during the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It’s a glimpse into what the future holds for Smart’s catalog of diminutive city cars, according to the firm.

Those following the Smart brand will immediately recognize the name. The Forease+ is a follow-up to the Forease concept introduced during the 2018 Paris Auto Show. Not a lot has changed since. While the original Forease made its debut as a convertible with no roof, the Forease+ receives a piece of orange fabric that protects the occupants from the elements when they’re zigzagging across a city. Orange accents on both ends of the concept and on the wheels contribute a touch of color when the roof is off.

The Forease+ is visibly based on the current, third-generation Fortwo that’s sold exclusively as an electric car in the United States. Most of the interior comes straight from the assembly line, including the touchscreen on the center console and the digital instrument cluster, but Smart cut out the top part of the steering wheel and replaced the central air vents with round screens. It also added leather upholstery to create a more upscale atmosphere.

While the concept’s body shows Smart’s wild side, everything under the sheet metal comes from the brand’s parts bin. It’s powered by an electric drivetrain made up of a 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a compact electric motor that zaps the rear wheels with 80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. Range checks in at 58 miles; that’s not much, not when Hyundai offers an electric Kona with up to 258 miles of range, but the Fortwo is a city car at heart, not a long-distance cruiser.

Smart hasn’t indicated what the future holds for the Forease+ concept. If you’re thinking it looks too far-fetched to reach production, keep in mind the brand has surprised us with even more offbeat models in the past. In 2002, it released a limited-edition variant of the original Fortwo named Crossblade that had no doors and no windshield. That doesn’t guarantee it will pull a similar trick in 2019, but we wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

Product Review

The Nissan Rogue is smart, handsome, and practical. What’s not to love?

Year after year, Nissan’s Rogue compact crossover is a consistent best-seller, outpacing Honda’s CR-V, and even Toyota’s mighty RAV4. We looked for the reasons why people love the 2019 Nissan Rogue, and found them.
Cars

2020 Cadillac CT5 luxury sedan gets turbocharged power, chiseled looks

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 replaces the CTS in the General Motors luxury brand's lineup. Cadillac will unveil the CT5 at the 2019 New York Auto Show in April. Until then, it's keeping most details under wraps.
Cars

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.
Cars

Karma Automotive continues clawing back from the brink with three new cars

Karma Automotive will bring three new cars to the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, including a long overdue redesigned version of its Revero plug-in hybrid and an all-electric concept car.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will be a concept car set to be unveiled at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show.
Cars

Nuro’s awesome robot delivery pods are tootling into Texas

Robo-delivery startup Nuro is taking its cool-looking autonomous delivery pods to Texas. The pods will deliver Kroger groceries to customers' doors in Houston following a successful pilot program in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Cars

Automakers are spending billions on self-driving technology people are afraid of

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on developing the technology that will power self-driving cars, but research shows consumers have no interest in giving up control. Will they ever recoup their investment?
Cars

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.
Cars

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.
Cars

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?
Cars

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.
Cars

Unrestrained by heritage, Polestar sets its sights on becoming a digital brand

With no heritage to worry about, Polestar is free to move full-speed ahead towards its goal of becoming a digital brand. All of the company's upcoming models will be electric, and they will inaugurate an Android-powered infotainment system.
Cars

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!