Need a ride? Smart’s autonomous Vision EQ Fortwo concept will pick you up

The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo concept looks like every car enthusiast’s nightmare. Debuting later this month at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, it’s a dinky electric city car built for autonomous driving and ridesharing, not for carving corners or lighting up the quarter mile. But Smart believes this evolution of its traditional small-car formula could be the future.

Smart says the design “embodies the urban luxury of the future.” The overall shape is similar to a current Smart Fortwo, but with some high-tech touches. The Vision EQ Fortwo concept uses a display in its grille to communicate messages and its doors open parallel with the bodywork, so cyclists and pedestrians won’t accidentally run into them.

The “EQ” in the car’s name signifies Smart sibling Mercedes-Benz’s new brand name for electrified vehicles. The all-electric Vision EQ Fortwo is powered by a 30-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Smart wouldn’t quote performance or range figures, instead focusing on how electric power intertwines with the car’s autonomous-driving capability, and potential use in ridesharing.

Smart already deploys its Fortwo in the Car2Go car-sharing service, but it believes autonomous driving will be a game changer. Instead of customers looking for a car on the street, the car will find them. When the car needs to be charged, it can autonomously drive to a charging station. Autonomous electric cars could even be used as a “swarm battery,” feeding electricity back into the grid during periods of high demand, Smart claims. This concept, known as “vehicle-to-grid” or “V2G,” has already attracted interest from the likes of Nissan, the University of Delaware, and the U.S. Air Force.

Since the car will be doing the driving, there will be no need for manual controls, Smart reasons. Doing away with the steering wheel and pedals also frees up more room in the two-seat interior. Instead of a traditional dashboard, the Vision EQ Fortwo concept features one big 24-inch display screen. The car can mine rideshare users’ social media profiles to suggest possible passenger pairings. Did Smart design this thing for ridesharing, or online dating?

The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo concept won’t go into production, but many of its ideas and features could show up on future Smart or Mercedes models. Parent company Daimler plans to launch more than 10 all-electric models by 2022 across both brands.

Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Cars

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.