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smart Shows Diesel and Gasoline Hybrids, EV and CNG Prototypes of smart Car

The smart ev.

DaimlerChrysler’s smart division has developed a series of concept test cars that incorporate a range of advanced and alternative-fuel technologies: gasoline and diesel hybrids, cng-fueled, and electric.

These follow on the premiere of the crosstown hybrid showcar concept presented at the Frankfurt auto show in September.

The crosstown hybrid. The crosstown smart car prototype combines an electric motor (with an output of up to 23 kW) with the 45 kW (61 hp) gasoline engine from the smart fortwo.

The result is a 15% reduction in fuel consumption to 4.3 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers (55 mpg US). The smart crosstown furthermore offers approximately 10% better acceleration (the production car requires 15.5 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h).

The mild hybrid system offers start-stop capability as well as assistance during acceleration and during gear changes.

Instead of using a conventional automatic transmission and torque converter, the smart crosstown works with a manual transmission mechanism including friction-disc clutch. The advantages of this compared with a fully automatic transmission lie in the much higher efficiency, lower weight, more compact dimensions and lower production costs.

However, unlike an automatic transmission, this principle causes traction interruptions between opening and closing the clutch for gear shifting. In the smart crosstown these are bridged by the electric motor. For a few tenths of a second it supplies the propulsion power needed, enabling harmonious, steady acceleration over the whole gear spectrum.

Regenerative braking recharges the battery.

The smart test prototype vehicles.

smart fortwo micro hybrid. A micro hybrid version of the smart fortwo uses a belt-driven starter generator in combination with the 45 kW (61 hp) gasoline engine to reduce fuel consumption by 5%.

The micro hybrid version offers no regenerative braking, nor any tractive assist. It does provide start-stop functionality.

With the micro hybrid the standard fuel consumption level of 4.7 litres per 100 kilometers (50 mpg US) is reduced by 0.25 litres to less than 4.5 liters (52 mpg US). In urban traffic, the smart fortwo micro hybrid uses a 13% less gasoline.

smart fortwo cdi hybrid. The diesel hybrid version of the smart car consumes just 2.9 liters of fuel/100 km (81 mpg US).

The diesel hybrid combines a 20 kW electric motor with the 30 kW (40 hp) diesel engine. The design is much the same as crosstown hybrid, with the electric motor providing start-stop functionality, drive assistance, shift delay bridging and regenerative braking.

Because the car’s shift delays are bridged by the electric motor, it only needs 17.8 seconds to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h. That’s ten percent—two seconds—better than with a conventional diesel drive.

smart fortwo ev. The smart fortwo electric vehicle is driven solely by its electric motor with an output of up to 30 kW (41 hp). With a consumption of 12 kWh per 100 kilometers, the car has a range of 110 kilometers (62 miles).

A full recharge takes 8 hours; charing from 20% to 80% capacity takes four hours.

smart created the electric drive in cooperation with Zytek, a British company that focuses on developing hybrid and electric drives.

smart fortwo cng. The bi-fuel version of the smart allows drivers to choose between gasoline or natural gas drive. The modular design of the fuel system means that the entire high-pressure natural gas tank (2 x 16 litres) and the petrol tank (12 litres) fit in the car’s underbody. The volume of the car’s interior and luggage compartment remain, as in the case of the electric drive model, unimpaired.

The car consumes approximately 3.2 kilograms of natural gas (or 4.7 liter of petrol) per 100 kilometers, giving it a range of 385 kilometers (239 miles)—138 km with natural gas, and 255 km with gasoline. The gasoline model, with a tank volume of 33 litres, can, on a purely calculative basis, travel some 700 kilometers without a fuel stop.

smart Hybrid and Alt-Fuel Prototypes
Fuel Gasoline Gasoline Diesel Electric CNG/Gasoline
Displacement 698cc 698cc 799cc 698cc
Engine Power 45 kW 45 kW 30 kW 45 kW
Motor Power 23 kW 20 kW 20 kW 30 kW
Fuel consumption 4.3 l/100km 4.5 l/100km 2.9 l/100km 3.2 kg CNG/100km
4.7 l/100km gasoline
Fuel economy 55 mpg US 52 mpg US 81 mpg US 3.2 kg CNG/100km
50 mpg US gasoline

There is no commitment from smart to commercialize any of these—yet.


Adam H.

I like the idea of the electric motor providing acceleration during gearshifts. What a great idea - especially for us gearheads.

Ron Fischer

As a side-effect, displaying these prototypes announces to venture capital investors that, even if a small company were able to convert Smart cars to EV (e.g. Zap) and generate significant sales Daimler-Chrysler could easily step in and take that market away at the drop of a hat. I wonder if Toyota will show a prototype plug-in hybrid Prius and whether it would have a chilling effect on investment in plug-in hybrid conversion companies?

Adam H.

Good point, Ron. None of these small start-up conversion companies have either the clout or resources to match prices with DC or Toyota. A factory EV/plug-in vehicle would quickly quash all conversion kit companies.


The Tokyo autoshow Toyota did have a PHEV along with a futuristic house that it could power for a couple of days. These puny cars are simply not going to sell mainstream in the states unless the sh*t hits the fan. I wouldn't want to get hit by a guy on a skateboard in one of those things. It's not that the idea of a pure EV is bad but those things are so tiny.


They are small, and that can be a problem in itself in many situations, but they are designed to maintain their structural integrity, see this crash test.


This is but one example of who knows what.

Over the next months and years, all sorts of things are going to appear. Many of them will be for the purpose of selling stock, without any hope of production.

Doers need to get real.


Now, if I can climb down from my machismo-fuelled turbo all wheel drive wagon and into one of those Smarts, it may not be so much fun but it would be satisfyingly green and cheap I expect.

If Smart or Toyota could produce one with enough bootspace to haul some bikes up into the mountains for a weekend and make them look like they're to be driven by techies or builders and not hairdressers, then they'd have the image thing cracked too and maybe shift some more units :)


I've been waiting to see anyone delve into the hybrid diesel arena. If they opt for a pluggin smart diesel hybrid with the first 25-30 miles being all electric, I could only imagine the mileage one could get. Plus when I'd use fuel I'd be running B100 biodiesel and rid myself of the Middle East.


Smarts aren't a total answer - such a tiny car has a limited market, even in Europe. But they sure are part of the answer - great crash tests due to good engineering despite the size.

Even if they don't build all of those power combos, that is where we are headed, and fast. And I agree - diesel+electric is the next big thing, if only because we can branch out the source for the diesel (various types of bio) and the source for the charge (PV panels on the car, wind on a plug-in's house, etc.).


I wish we could see what the projected retail costs for these different configs would be - in relation to the current fourtwo. The Smart is definately a big city dweller type of vehicle, if they could get the cost down to a reasonable amount for the all Electric they could sell a good amount (in big cities). But who knows what any of these would actually cost...


For me, it's a toss-up between the cdi-hybrid and the EV to replace my old '99 Honda Civic hatchback for in-city use (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). If the cdi-hybrid is offered as a full hybrid then it's a contender, otherwise it's the EV for sure.

Richard Farci

Why is it that the Big car mfr still can't see the advantages of electric? How many small car mfr are needed to prove them wrong? Quit pussy-footing around and get to real solutions. We don't need trmendous "new" technological breakthrough to make these things mainstream. We already have enough technology, just start using it already!


The article lacks an easy way to compare the different types of vehicles based on energy consumption. So lets see:

forto coupe
(cheapest regular 37kW gasoline engine, 4,7 l/100km)
46 kWh/100 km

49 kWh / 100 km
138 km CNG range

42 kWh/100 km

31 kWh/ 100 km

12 kWh/ 100 km
110 km range

In a German car magazin they claimed, that the EV would cost 15.000 Euro extra and that therefore it makes no sense. However ... there is no info on how this premium was calculated.

Since prices go down with mass production there is only one conclusion one can draw from such an argument: We do not want to build that car .. so lets kill it with a fake price argument.

Since efficiency is a bad thing in the car business, it seems like CNG is the "next best" choice for the auto makers and the energy companies. Lets start wasting natural gas!

Did I hear anybody taking about natural gas supply constrains? LNG tanker and infrastructure issues?

Shirley E

Automotive engines are designed for a running life of 5000 hours. During that time they make many (sometimes MANY) trips to the dealership/repair shop/parts store etc. Maintenance of the traditional internal combustion engine and ancillaries is a huge revenue source for the automotive industry.

Assuming your refrigerator motor/compressor runs 5 minutes out of every hour on average (probably a conservative estimate), after 20 years that motor will have racked up 14,600 hours of run time, and all of it start/stop, start/stop, etc. Yet how many of us have or know someone with a 20-year-old refrigerator? Rather than wearing out it's probably been moved to the basement to make way for something more stylish. And how many times has it been to the shop or even serviced in that 20 years? Once? Maybe?

The OEMs do not see this future EV trend as beneficial to them. Think about it: no transmission, a virtually indestructible motor, not even any oil changes! Where's the profit in that? Yes, the technologies mostly exist today, but you're not going to see the drive for them coming from the companies that stand the most to lose from their implementation. It's the little guys making this revolution happen.


There is already an electric Smart that is commercially available, but only in the region of Tessin/Switzerland:
Also a norwegian company plans to start building an E-Smart next year, but their main problem is getting gliders from MCC.
It's a good question whether the big car companies will ever make EVs themselves, or even allow other companies to convert their vehicles in significant numbers.
Strange coincidence: in a time of rising gas prices and environmental problems, both french carmakers Citroen and Renault have stopped ther EV and plug-in hybrid production. Renaults states "technical problems", but they can't tell what these problems are, and the cars already sold work fine. Conspiracy theory, anyone?

Regards, Skarrin

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