With its small size and a target market of city-dwellers, the Smart Fortwo is well-suited to be converted to electric power. Smart's been working on its battery-powered version since 2006, and for 2011, early production versions will be available. In total, only 1,500 will be built throughout the 2011 model year, 250 of which are slated to come to the U.S. Offered on 48-month leases at $599 a month, they're not cheap, but Federal Government tax breaks on electric vehicles lower the bottom line fairly significantly.
The electric motor, which is mounted in the same location as the gasoline engine on standard Fortwos, can produce up to 40 hp in "Kickdown Mode," while under normal driving conditions, it provides just 27 hp. Torque is said to be 88.5 lb-ft, which is just slightly more than the gasoline version. The battery pack, which was developed by Tesla, puts out 16.5 kW, which Smart says is good for a range of 83 miles.
The 5-speed automatic transmission found in the regular production Fortwo isn't used here. In fact, the electric version uses a single speed. Smart says the combination gives performance close to that of other Fortwos, with a zero to 37 mph of around 6.5 seconds. Top speed is said to be 62 mph.
Brake regeneration is employed, as well as a 3.3-kW onboard charger that can fully recharge the batteries from a standard 220-volt outlet in less than 8 hours. Electric Fortwos contain the same safety features seen in gasoline versions, including several airbags, electronic stability control and crumple zones meant to absorb the force of an impact. However, with the batteries and electric motor, the Electric is a full 308 pounds heavier. Inside, the only changes over a basic Fortwo are two gauges placed on top of the dash, which track battery charge level and power being generated by the electric motor.