Smart Fortwo Ed Inverness

Owning an electric vehicle, while getting you big respect for helping to save the planet, gives you as much street cred as being escorted to work by your mum. Now, smart is making tracks to overhaul that perception with a fully-blown electric version of one of its current models and it’s called the fortwo ed.

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Smart Fortwo Ed

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Owning an electric vehicle, while getting you big respect for helping to save the planet, gives you as much street cred as being escorted to work by your mum. Now, smart is making tracks to overhaul that perception with a fully-blown electric version of one of its current models and it’s called the fortwo ed.

Should I make the switch to electric?

Admittedly, a smart car isn't the coolest get-about on the road, but it offers positively more acceptance than a G-Wiz . It’s not shaped like a frightened kitten, there are no banners or beacons to tell the rest of the driving community you’re in an electric car, and you’ll actually be able to out-accelerate a mobility scooter.Electric cars in general haven't had the greatest reputation in terms of performance or looks, but with the exception of the electrifyingly quick Tesla Roadster the smart ed is the first plug-in motor that begins to make sense.It’s ideal for urban driving, perfect for the daily commute and so easy to drive, it’s like going to work in a bumper car. Standing for electric drive, it's not a hybrid and there's no fuel tank, simply a liquid sodium nickel-chloride battery to propel you along.This means you won’t find an exhaust pipe at the back and are therefore exempt from paying on-the-road fees such as vehicle tax, London’s congestions charge, parking (in some boroughs), and more importantly, fuel.

On the charge

To get up and running, an on-board lead connects to a socket where you would normally find the petrol filler cap, and can then be plugged into any three-pin power socket.A full charge takes eight hours, costs around 8p and is good for up to 70 miles. As far as electric vehicles go, this is a pretty impressive range and should get you to and from work with ample mileage left over to pop into the supermarket on the way home.You’re fairly limited on longer out-of-town journeys, but with a top speed of 60mph the prospect of a schlep on the motorway isn’t too appealing. In the city, you won’t notice the car’s modest speed, as getting beyond 30mph in any metropolis is either logistically impossible or illegal.However, the compact-yet-comfortable two-seater is very light and reaches 0-30mph in a surprisingly quick 6.5 seconds. Being only 2.5m long lets you nip in and out of traffic easily and also makes finding a parking space a more fruitful task. Based on the same chassis as the fortwo, the electric version weighs in slightly heavier but with the battery located near the centre of the vehicle, handling benefits as it sticks to the road with a low centre of gravity.Its automatic gearbox with two gears – drive and reverse – makes driving the smart ed a stop and go affair and is perfectly suited to traffic-laden roads.

The positives and negatives of battery power

We found the smart ed a fantastic drive for the city environment, its virtually noise-free with only a slight whir heard over your chuckling as you buzz past petrol stations.Its environmental implications are immense, with no engine oil, no CO2 emissions, no noise, and a full charge being the equivalent to 300 miles per gallon. Our only concern was relying solely on that battery to get you home. When driving we were transfixed by the dashboard gauge telling you how much battery is left. We had to calculate every journey carefully, and it did raise concerns like what if you forget to charge it the night before, and what if you can't find a charging point at your destination?After all you wouldn’t want it to break down on, say, one of London’s busiest roads – Trafalgar Square. Not that it happened to us in the morning rush hour or anything...

You can be electric too... soon enough

At the moment, the smart ed is only on market trial and it's unlikely to see production until around 2010.So we’ll have to wait to see how much it will cost, but after a couple of eventful days with the car, we can see it plugging into the urban motoring market as easily as into the wall, and be right up the street of an eco-friendly city dwellers.• See if electric is for you by taking a look at our video review of the smart ed in the latest issue of iGIZMO.

Author: James Billington

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