Smart isn’t trialling 100 electric Fortwos in the UK, instead of Germany, because our petrol prices are higher, or because our congestion charges more swingeing. In fact, it's largely because the Electric Drive conversion and the 'hot' battery technology underpinning the Smart Fortwo ED were both developed by Zytek in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Apart from the electrics, what’s changed in this Smart Fortwo ED?
Not much. Our cars had ‘Electric Drive’ graphics, but otherwise only sharp-eyed Smart spotters will see the clues to the ED's unusual powertrain. From outside you can just see the bottom of the battery pack, while inside a charge indicator replaces the rev counter and the gear selector has a simpler D-N-R quadrant.
To get the ED going you turn the key to ‘on’ and move the gear lever to D, and then… nothing happens. The ED only comes alive when you press the accelerator, bounding forwards with acceleration that easily matches other city traffic and a bionic-milkfloat soundtrack.
Click 'Next' below to read more of our Smart Fortwo ED
Is it practical?
Smart says the ED will cover about 70 miles between charges, but only with careful driving. That’s plenty for town journeys, but if you need to travel further you'll be in for a long wait: recharging the sodium-nickel chloride battery from dead flat can take eight hours.
On the road it returns the equivalent of about 200mpg of petrol – but how green it really is, of course, depends on how the electricity that charges it is produced.
Provided you have somewhere to charge it the Smart makes sense as a city car. It’s certainly a more exciting proposition than a G-Wiz. The only problem is, you can’t buy one: only selected customers can lease them. A second trial may follow in another European capital, maybe Paris, using new-shape Smarts. But these early cars have demonstrated the soundness of the idea.