The smart fortwo electric drive series will be equipped with a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion technology has decisive advantages over other type of batteries, including its compact dimensions, high performance, shorter charging times an higher reliability.
London pilot project
In 2007, smart started a pilot project in London, England to test the smart fortwo electric drive vehicle. smart leased 100 electric smarts of the former series to gain real world experience and determine the technology’s long-term sustainability. The project has proven to be very successful with customers giving very encouraging feedback. In addition, the English authorities have rewarded smart’s commitment by exempting drivers of electric smart vehicle from the expensive London congestion charge.
London was selected as the perfect test city due to its high populations and infrastructure density, which has resulted in high traffic, parking shortages, severe noise and pollution. Participation in the project was first offered to companies that operate their own vehicle fleets and those who drive in inner city areas.
The majority of the customers approached smart to participate in the London project. Participants lease the electric smart for four years or 40,000 miles, and the project will officially run until 2012.
The company is using the test data and monitoring and evaluating many other different technologies to evolve the smart brand with new products as appropriate.
In addition to the London test program, smart is consistently working on the future development of electric drive technology. In September 2008, with the support of the German government and the state of Berlin, Daimler AG and the energy provider RWE introduced the “e-mobility Berlin” project. The two companies are jointly creating the conditions for zero emissions with battery electric drives, which is the world’s largest initiative in this field to date.
RWE is providing 500 electricity charging stations and Daimler is contribution 100 electric vehicles. Both companies aim to create an intelligent system, and the first joint tests are scheduled for the spring of 2009.
Additionally, an “on-board unit” is being developed that will communicate with charging stations to ensure 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.
Daimler AG is launching its next electric mobility project in cooperation with Enel, Italy’s largest energy supplier. In 2010, the “e-mobility Italy” initiative will see more than 100 electric cars of the smart and Mercedes-Benz brands roll onto the streets of Rome, Milan and Pisa. Enel will be responsible for developing and setting up over 400 charging stations especially for this purpose in the three cities. The project aims to further develop automotive technology and an intelligent infrastructure, and also establish open standards. Infrastructure is a particularly important issue in Italy, where the majority of vehicles are parked in city streets.