March 4, 2009Following on from the cosmetically customized version of the Tesla Roadster which debuted at the Essen Motor Show 2008, German tuning house BRABUS has seen the writing on the wall and launched a second electric car, this time based on a Smart fortwo. Drowned in matt green throughout the exterior and interior, the car comes with the same style monoblock light-alloy wheels and the (somewhat gimmicky) LED Daytime running lights as used on the Tesla, as well as some real technical innovation in the drive train.

This is in fact the world debut of the second generation Smart fortwo with Lithium Ion batteries. At the end of 2007 smart leased 100 electric first generation Smart EVs to be used in a pilot project in London in order to gain real-world experience with electric drive. Customers gave very encouraging feedback on the zero emission cars that were still equipped with a 13.2 Kw/hr Zebra Sodium Nickel Chloride battery. The Smart fortwo EV has a 30kW electric motor and a top speed of 120 km/h (74.6 mph) with a range of up to 72 miles (116 km). Acceleration from 0-30 mph takes 6.5 seconds—a faster time than the gasoline-powered version. A re-charge from 20% to 80% can be achieved in 2-4 hours; a complete recharge takes up to 8 hours.

Lithium-ion technology has decisive advantages over other types of batteries, including extremely compact dimensions, much higher performance, shorter charging times, a long life and high reliability. An "on-board unit" is being developed for the project "e-mobility Berlin" which communicates with the charging station. Among other things, this will contribute to ensuring that the battery is automatically charged with low-priced electricity when the network is not used to full capacity, for example at off-peak times. Or when more electricity is available from alternative energy sources than is needed at this point in time. This benefits the environment and offers customers real savings.

The development and tuning of the components needed are already well underway. At the beginning of next year the system will initially undergo internal testing and optimization. Small series production of the electric two-seater will start at the end of 2009 and Smart will then deliver the first vehicles to selected customers.

Paul Evans

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