Mercedes-Benz USA has started rolling out the smart fortwo electric drive, the most affordable electric vehicle in the U.S. market (based on Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), to smart dealers across the country.
The smart fortwo electric drive has the smallest footprint of any car on U.S. roads and its cabriolet sibling is the only convertible electric available here.
Further setting the fortwo apart from other vehicles on the market is its unique patented tridion safety cell (which functions like a race car’s roll cage), its infinitely customizable exterior (more than 6,000 possible combinations) and its green credentials which start at one of the most eco-friendly automotive production facilities in the world – the smartville factory in Hambach, France.
The electric fortwo has a mile per gallon equivalent (MPGe) of 122 miles in the city on a full charge.
In response to consumer uncertainty about battery performance and longevity, the fortwo will offer customers an innovative acquisition option: buy or lease the vehicle with or without the battery.
The new option, called Battery Assurance Plus, enables a customer to buy the vehicle only – without the battery – for $19,990 and separately rent the battery (the performance of which is guaranteed for up to 10 years) for $80 a month plus taxes.
For leasing customers, the total monthly payment is $199 with the battery rental included. Battery Assurance Plus also covers annual maintenance on the battery and, if necessary, replacement. The rental contract for the battery is transferrable for up to 10 years with no mileage restrictions.
While MBUSA expects that most customers will opt for the Battery Assurance Plus option, based on its popularity in Europe, the smart fortwo electric drive can also be purchased or leased in the traditional manner.
The smart fortwo coupe carries an MSRP of $25,000 while the cabriolet is priced at $28,000. These retail purchase customers may also be eligible for federal tax credits (which run up to $7,500) or state/local tax credits, further reducing the cost.
“We know that there are many potential customers out there for whom an electric drive vehicle would be ideal but who have concerns about battery maintenance costs, battery life, repair cost and, of course, range anxiety. The smart electric addresses all those concerns by way of the Battery Assurance Plus program and our new smart Vehicle Homepage,” said Mark Webster, general manager in charge of smart.
The smart Vehicle Homepage is a customized connection between the vehicle and most internet-capable devices. With a smartphone, tablet or PC, an owner can:
– Check the State of Charge for the vehicle (how much charge does it have right now; what is the charging time forecast; how much range does the driver have on the current charge and how much will s/he have when the vehicle is fully charged).
– Precondition the car while charging so the vehicle is at a comfortable temperature when the driver gets into it.
– Set the vehicle to charge during times when electricity cost is at its lowest.
– Set a planned departure time so that the vehicle can charge at an economical cost but without delaying departure.
– Review an “Eco Display” which shows the efficiency and type of driving.
– See the range of the vehicle by way of a “range cloud” – a map which shows all the locations the vehicle could get to on the current charge level.
– Have the route to the destination laid out while taking driving conditions into account and verifying that the vehicle has enough charge to reach the destination.
– Set up automated notifications (e.g. charging completed, when vehicle reaches a desired charge level) which are then received either by email or Twitter.
– Locate the vehicle where it’s parked (Car Finder) as well as set a reminder as to how much time remains on the parking meter.