Financial Times. Daimler plans to begin testing all-electric versions of its smart fortwo microcar in London next month, with retail production targeted by 2010.
The brand will begin delivering electric cars to about 100 customers in the UK capital in mid-December and plans similar pilots in two other European cities, Anders Jensen, head of the Smart brand team, told the Financial Times on Wednesday.
The test cars will be leased to mostly corporate and public-sector buyers—including the London police—for a pilot-test period of four years, Mr Jensen said. If the tests turn out as Daimler hopes, the company plans to begin commercial production in 2010, before the end of the pilot.
“We want to test it and get it into production,” Mr Jensen said.
In July 2006, Daimler launched a limited commercial trial in the UK for the smart fortwo ev (earlier post); in 2007, smart renamed the model the fortwo ed (electric drive). The company provided approximately 100 units as lease vehicles to selected British customers.
The drivetrain for the smart ed is produced in the UK by technology partner Zytek Group, which undertakes final assembly of the smart ev in Fradley, near Litchfield. The smart ed is powered by a Zebra Sodium Nickel Chloride battery. The car has 30 kW output and a top speed of 70 mph with a range of up to 72 miles (116 km). Acceleration from 0-30 mph takes 6.5 seconds—a faster time than the gasoline-powered version. A re-charge from 20% to 80% can be achieved in 2-4 hours; a complete recharge takes up to 8 hours.
(A hat-tip to John!)