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2017 smart fortwo Electric Drive: LA Auto Show


author photo by Colin Ryan November 2016

What Is It?

The 2017 smart fortwo Electric Drive is that odd little 2-seater subcompact with an electric motor in its rearward engine bay and a lithium-ion battery pack under the floor. But just because it's odd doesn't mean it's bad. Smart is touting this as the ideal city car.

It's able to fit into more gaps between parked cars than almost anything else. It produces no emissions, which is a big consideration when cities are charging tolls for combustion vehicles (although that's more of a European thing at the moment). It's quiet while operating and therefore doesn't add to the general urban clamor, and the seating position is high enough for good visibility.

Range is 75 miles, and the quickest charging time is 2.5 hours (delivering up to 80 percent of full charge). Daimler (smart's parent company, which also owns Mercedes-Benz) now has its own factory making the batteries. So it feels confident enough to warranty them for 60,000 miles or eight years.

There's a wide range of exterior colors. And naturally, there's an app that displays charging information and allows the user to preheat or cool the cabin before unplugging and setting off. A soft-top version is coming for summer 2017, and it might well be the only electric-powered cabriolet on the market.

How Much?

To be announced. Most likely somewhere in the region of $25,000. And remember, there's currently (pardon the pun) a federal income tax credit of $7,500 for vehicles powered by alternative fuels. Some states are also offering financial incentives. The 2017 smart fortwo Electric Drive is going on sale in all 50 states.

When Can You Get It?

Spring 2017

Add It to Your Shopping List Because...

A car using internal combustion is not for you. Instead, something that's cheap to run, environmentally friendly and more weatherproof than a bicycle has the desired qualities.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV -- More usable and with a much larger range: 238 miles on a single charge.

2017 Fiat 500e -- Only available in California and Oregon, and costs around $33,000 before rebates. Rated as one of the best-handling variants in the 500 range.

2017 Ford Focus Electric -- All these alternatives have four doors and two rows of seating. They're also more expensive, but not crazily so. The Focus Electric is set for a range of 100 miles in the 2017 model.

2017 Nissan Leaf -- Old by comparison. A new model arrives in 2018 with a much better range.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf
-- Keep an eye on the 2017 version, as it's in line to have its range extended to about 125 miles. Otherwise, it's the Golf we all know and love.

Used BMW i3 -- Again, bigger and far more practical. There won't be a tax break for buying used, but there's the option of getting one with the range-extending engine.

See all 2016 LA Auto Show articles

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 smart fortwo Electric Drive: LA Auto Show - Autotrader