Smart is a company of problem solvers. It was founded because Europe needed a cheap, economical alternative to the normal car. Despite the reservations many Americans still harbor about small cars, the tiny Smart Fortwo remains the standard by which city cars are judged.
Now the company has its sights set on a new problem. Smart wants to replace the gasoline engine.
As part of its development of electric cars, Smart released a set of interesting alternative-energy vehicles at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The first release was the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. The new car will be the company's third generation of electric-powered Smart cars.
The new Fortwo ED will use a 55kW motor that can accelerate the car from 0-62 mph in 13 seconds. The new electric drivetrain provides a 33 horsepower boost over the previous model.
The company reports that the new Fortwo ED will have a range of over 86 miles, but the EPA, which rates a car's EV range, has yet to release its official numbers. The micro-sized electric car is set to go on sale early next year.
For a peek into what is a little further down the road for Smart, check out the new Forvision concept.
The new car sports technological innovations like a transparent photoelectric roof, heat-efficient paint that can reduce a car's inside temperature by up to four degrees on a hot day and plastic wheels that reduce weight and provide better efficiency.
The Forvision may also provide some insight into what the next generation of Smart car might look like. The Forvision sports a funky futuristic front end with angular creases along the side of the car.
Smart isn't limiting its innovations to vehicles with just four wheels, however. The company has also developed an electricity-boosted bicycle called the ebike. The ebike recharges itself as the rider turns the pedals, and then uses the stored energy to push the bike along with a small electric motor.
Smart said the little bike can go up to 62 miles on a fully battery charge. It will go on sale later this year.
See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.
|J. MARK STERNBERG is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.|