Just last month, the designers at smart decided to tease us by releasing some sketches of a concept electric vehicle that they had actually created, known as the for-us. While the front of the vehicle looked quite a bit like the existing fortwo, the Subaru Brat-like mini rear cargo bed definitely gave it a unique car-truck-combo appeal ... or repulsion, depending on the observer. Well, with the start of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2012 this week in Detroit, the curious need no longer wonder what the actual vehicle might look like, as it is proudly out on display.
The for-us is a little larger than the fortwo. Specifically, it's 613 mm (24 in) longer, and 50 mm (1.9 in) wider on each side. Its suspension has also been raised by 50 mm, suggesting the possibility of light multi-terrain use. This is backed up by the inclusion of Michelin off-road tires, and smart's suggestion that a future version of the car could have four wheel drive - in the form of the addition of two front wheel hub motors.
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In its current form, the for-us features an electric drive system based on the one that will appear on the fortwo electric, when it becomes available to consumers later this year. At its heart is a 55 kW magneto-electric motor, powered by a 17.6 kWh-capacity lithium-ion battery pack. The motor produces a claimed 130 Newton meters (95.88 ft lbs) of torque, with lag-free acceleration and a top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h). The battery requires eight hours to charge from empty, and the company hasn't provided any range estimates.
Other features, as mentioned in our previous coverage, include a console-mounted smartphone holder that works with a linked rearview video camera, and a powered retracting tailboard that provides easy access to the 900-mm (3-foot) cargo bed. That bed is designed specifically for carrying two smart e-bikes, to the point that it even has a docking station for their batteries.
The bikes would serve as range-extenders, both in that they could be ridden past the point that the car could go, and their charged-up batteries would be available to power the car for a few more miles, if the need arose.
There's still no word on whether or not we'll ever be able to buy a for-us for ourselves. Is it something that you could picture yourself driving?View gallery - 18 images