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Car News:  2012 Detroit Auto Show

Smart to Bring Electric Pickup to Detroit

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by Ross Darby December 2011
  • Features an all-electric drivetrain
  • Docking station for two smart ebikes in cargo bed
  • Drivetrain production-ready, bound for other electric Smarts

Since Mini's relaunch in 2001, it seems single-model brands are no longer such a rarity. But as time goes on, it seems such brands are finding that a single-model approach is hard to sustain, and they've begun to release multiple variations on the same platform. As Mini now has its Clubman, Countryman, and now Coupe, Smart has been diversifying with its roadster and For-Four models.

It's probably with that line of thinking that the diminutive Daimler brand has come up with its latest concept, the For-Us. Smart enforces that the car is an "urban pickup," meant to be able to haul lots of cargo, without sacrificing its small city-friendly footprint.

Just how much cargo one can haul is debatable, with the bed only being a scant three feet deep. Also, at least in the way the concept is presented, it seems most of that cargo space is taken up by rechargeable "ebikes." The way the bikes charge is very clever, with docking stations built into the cargo floor, but even fitting the bikes is difficult, as the tailgate needs to be lowered to fit them.

Speaking of the tailgate, that also features some electric trickery, being lowered by electric motors and actually becoming part of the cargo floor. This is done by the electric motors pulling the tailgate inward once it's fully lowered, locking it in with the cargo floor, making it a seamless bay.

The electric motor is exactly the same one that will see production this spring for the Fortwo Electric Drive, which features a 55 kW motor capable of speeds over 75 mph.

Smart is bringing it to the Detroit Auto Show, which begs the question of its possible release in the States. Who knows if it will actually be made anywhere, but we look forward to seeing up close at Cobo.

What it means to you:

Smart is attempting to redefine just exactly what a pickup can be. It may not be the one to take down to the local lumberyard, though.

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Smart to Bring Electric Pickup to Detroit - Autotrader