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Next electric smart car may be cheapest EV in US

The first sub-$30,000 electric car from a mainstream automaker looks possible, but there's a small catch.

By Clifford Atiyeh Sep 20, 2012 4:39AM
Smart fortwo electric drive (c) DaimlerWhen the electric 2014 smart fortwo makes its U.S. debut this spring, it may become the country's most affordable electric car on sale.

In Europe, the smart fortwo electric drive (ED, for short) costs €18,910, or just under $25,000 at current exchange rates. That puts it a good $5,000 lower than the least-expensive EV, the Mitsubishi I-MiEV. The catch: Smart drivers must lease the battery from Daimler for $85 per month.

Smart isn't the only automaker trying to soften EV sticker shock. Renault offers a battery lease on its low-speed, two-passenger Twizy for $59 per month, and also plans to offer the incentive on its larger electric car, the Zoe, due this fall. But while battery leasing may lower short-term ownership costs, it's a drain for buyers wishing to keep an EV for more than five years. After that time, the smart's price advantage over the Mitsubishi crumbles (total price, including the battery, is just under $31,000).

In July 2010, smart began leasing 250 ED models in the U.S., out of about 1,500 worldwide, for $599 per month. In November 2011, Daimler's car2go service brought 300 smart ED models into San Diego for hourly rentals. The next-generation car, on sale in Europe since June, will bring sorely needed performance upgrades when it arrives in 2013, including a larger 55-kilowatt motor and 17.6-kilowatt-hour battery. The current smart ED is barely highway worthy, as it requires 23 seconds to reach the maximum 60-mph speed (the 2014 model will reach 78 mph, Daimler said). A spokesman for Smart USA declined to comment on U.S. pricing or whether the company would offer a similar battery lease program.

With no back seat and cramped cargo space, the smart ED needs aggressive pricing to justify its existence against larger EVs with similar range and more driver comforts. Last year, smart sold fewer than 7,000 gasoline-powered cars, less than either the all-electric Nissan Leaf or plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt. According to Bloomberg, Daimler says it plans to sell at least 10,000 electric fortwo models per year worldwide.

[Source: Daimler, Bloomberg]
263Comments
Sep 30, 2012 5:54AM
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Unless you are energy independent, with your own solar, wind, or water powered electricity source, owning an electric vehicle only changes the LOCATION of the generation of energy consumed.  The electricity you use is generated by burning fossil fuels somewhere else, with the resulting pollution distributed to another neighborhood.  Instead of  the feel-good high cost of fostering pollution on to someone else, I think I'll stick with my current vehicle at 52 miles per gallon.  I already own it outright (no payments, no new manufacturing cost), and it doesn't consume much energy.  I also don't have to lease the battery.
Sep 30, 2012 5:52AM
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my14 year old buick LaSaber(very big and heavy) gets 33 miles to the gallon w/the a/c on at max. running on cheap mexican gas(@2.75us a gallon.  get rid of ethenol additives and give the food back to the market for distribution to people.  yes,the ev's are comming,just not until detroit finds a way to make even more money than conventional gas engines bring in. i'll take a head on crash against any ev and walk away.  i feel safe.  the 'smart' car.  baloney.  and, they are all ugly.
Sep 30, 2012 5:46AM
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for 8000 you get a used one and for other 16000 on gas which would be 4000 gallons and 325 tanks of gas would worth 180 months means 12 years of regular usage at 2 tanks of gas per month adding 6000 in repairs you get a 5 seat sedan til 2020 . In 2020 you buy a electric at 15000 today dollars and at that time you have more charging/gas stations available.
SOME THINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR the electric is not a mature product. Is it MADE IN USA? Well call me back when you put that thing together in Detroit .I LOVE hot dogs not ready for thin pastrami By the way I am born and raised in Europe still my tax money are here and I depend on American Economy. remember 1.29 per gallon in 99???
 Thank you for reading me. 
Sep 30, 2012 5:45AM
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Natural Gas is the solution.    It's abundant domestically.    It's clean.    It's cheap.    The infrastructure can be phased in to replace oil over time so we don't have to break the bank to convert.      

 

Of course democrats hate it because it won't give them that "I'm sacrificing for the environment by spending too damn much" buzz. 

Sep 30, 2012 5:39AM
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you could fit the entire car up Mooshells O'Baggers as*!!!!!!!!
Sep 30, 2012 5:37AM
Sep 30, 2012 5:36AM
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you could shove the entire car up mooshells obaggers as*. 
Sep 30, 2012 5:28AM
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Good luck driving that POS.  Two or three eight-year olds can turn it over on its side while parked.  
Sep 30, 2012 5:27AM
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Where is the diesel for two being sold?
Sep 30, 2012 5:23AM
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Lease Battery $ 85 a month ? ... another way to try to steal money .... , i`m happy with my 2010 Prius  that going slow on brake and paddle gives me a lots,lots of miles.. specially those from 2010 and up .. I highly recomend ..

 

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