I think the Reg missed out on a caption.
Smart For Two- Electric Boogaloo.
If the key to making a good e-car is keeping the size and weight down then the Smart Fortwo - a fine example of what can be achieved with a clean sheet of paper, an open mind and no regard for such bourgeois eccentricities as rear seats or a boot - should make an ideal candidate for electrification. Smart Fortwo iPhone app …
The Smart car was DOA from the start. Penske motors gave back their franchise to Mercedes. ( http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/18/autos/smart-car-penske-mercedes.fortune/index.htm )
The concept of the car was flawed at the start.
For those who live in the city, most live in apartments or row houses. If you own a garage space, you usually have only one space. So you need a car that best serves your purpose.
If you live in the suburbs, you may have the garage space, but you need to be able to travel at highway speeds.
The point is that city dwellers may only travel short distances, but they need a car that has more than two seats and no luggage space. If you live in the burbs, as a second car, you need something which is capable of traveling at highway speeds.
For those who could afford to have a specialized car like the smart, it makes no sense because of the costs of ownership when compared to something which is more practical.
As a city dweller who walks to work, I have a jeep because I need something I can count on in the winter, and haul stuff around. When it comes time to go grocery shopping, my wife usually teams up with some of the neighbors or friends to make the most of the trip.
I'm all for electric cars as long as we have nuke plants supplying the electricity. (Its still the only clean, abundant, and consistent source of power.) I'd still take an electric mini over the smart car because its more practical.
When my 8 year old smart 4 2 gives up I'd love to replace it with one of these ... not sure I could use it for holidays like I do now though (up to 400 miles per tank verses 84)
Agree with the idiot pedestrians bit, they jump out even when only 10 feet from a light controlled crossing (bring in Jay-Walking laws and book 'em Danno).
Also agree with the rear view mirror .. okay if you are 5 foot girly but not if you are 6 footer .. after 8 years its still the only thing I really dislike about the Smart (my wife hates the wimpy horn though).
Overall a Smart is a quality car and apart from the usual expensive parts (£500 for a steering wheel, £230 for a headlight unit), its a cracker of a vehicle and is really good at getting up country hills as well ... with ABS and Traction control it has been fantastic during the snow of the last two years.
It is completely not funny that people are walking right out in front of a moving vehicle without performing any sort of check to see if there is someone coming first. The author's off-hand comment may have been meant to bring this up light-heatedly, but it is a serious issue - a distressing number of pedestrians today should be ticketed for jaywalking and being a public nuisance - and after their 3rd time in a year, they can spend 30 days down in the local jail to contemplate how lucky they are that they haven't been ran over.
The sad part is that while vehicle noise makers are pushed primarily for the visually impaired, it is rarely the visually impaired I have problems with. Between a certain amount of natural caution and the distinctive white cane, I pretty much always know when I need to be aware that a person may simply be UNABLE to see me. The same is not true of someone who simply chooses not to pay attention, and this is why many of us long for the days of jaywalking enforcement, and until then, make jokes such as the author did in this article.
...i was once walking down the road with an acquaintance who, when questioned about walking across the road without looking, spoke words of wisdom to the effect of "cars have brakes, I don't". i'm fairly certain he is now either dead or banged up, and likely society is much better off for it
There's no such offence as "jaywalking" in the UK. We trust adults to cross roads and we trust drivers to be aware of pedestrians.
The US has three times as many road fatalities per capita as the UK.
You might want to rethink your assumptions.
(we also teach children the difference between the contraction "you're" and the possessive pronoun "your" ... but that's probably not related to your inability to see pedestrians)
Ah, thank you. I was waiting for someone to call me out on that. Both general topics, really.
The UK may not have "jaywalking" offenses, but are there truly no other offenses to handle the equivalent problem? If not, I'd suggest that you have a hole in your legal system - but I'd also fairly acknowledge that that is your problem.
Road fatalities per capita is a STUPID comparison between our nations considering the geographic disparities; I suspect that a number of our problems simply do not apply over there (just one - when is the last time you did a 31 hour straight drive, stopping for gas, food, 5 minute breaks and to swap drivers? Happens a surprising amount over here - though obviously they don't usually cause accidents which hurt pedestrians, they cause people to fall asleep and ram their vehicles at highway speeds into various obstacles). Of course, the same applies in the other direction, but that only reinforces my point.
LAST COMMENT ON THE IMPORTANT TOPIC:
My detractors (and several others) here appear to fail to grasp that, as a driver, I very much DO NOT WANT TO HIT SOMEONE. I've seen that happen to someone I know - someone who was, even in this VERY litigious society, later cleared from responsibility (crowds of witnesses do help). Completely aside from what should be the obvious human empathy, I do not want to live with the resulting feelings of guilt, even if it is because a damn stupid pedestrian who appears determined to demonstrate the negative value their genes provide to humanity. I post enthusiastically about this because I don't want people getting hurt. It doesn't take much - drivers paying attention when they should, pedestrians paying attention when they should - that alone would make a drastic improvement. Instead, suggest that one or the other is at fault, even partially, and the howls of outraged protest will drown you out before you can even explain what you mean. It makes me sick - grow up, people.
Finally, the BIG favor you did me! This is a tech site. I don't work for you. I never intend on using anything here as a job reference. I communicate here for a combination of my own amusement, and because I think sharing knowledge is a good thing. I am NOT going to put even one tenth of the editorial effort into my posts here that I do into even an informal email to a professional colleague. I can usually go back and find at least one spelling/grammatical error in each of my longer posts. I DON'T CARE. Neither should you. The mere fact that you have to resort to this level of nit picking in what is the online equivalent to a pub conversation merely tells me that you realize that you really have no good logical arguments to present.
Thank you, I am done with you. I may have more to say to you when you demonstrate that you have gained understanding.
Of course we need to run the buffoons over. After all, in the UK, cars only manage to kill 800 people who are too stupid to get out of the way each year. By sneaking up on them we could get so many more. And, after all, they must be stupid 'cos they're not in cages, so they deserve a little tickle. Thinking* by J. Clarkson.
*Copyright Top Gear 2011. No actual neurons were harmed by overwork in the course of these thoughts.
We tend to forget that all drivers become pedestrians at some point. I assume all the drivers moaning about pedestrians are model pedestrians when they do leave their vehicles, waiting for the green man at pelican crossings, walking the extra 20 yards to the zebra crossing then back again to get to the shop opposite, deciding not to cross when the gap looks just big enough, if taken at a run etc. etc.
All of us rely on various senses for road crossing, including hearing. In Zurich I was nearly hit by a tram (near silent) as being a tad tired (not emotional) and new to the idea of vehicles being on the wrong side of the road I looked the wrong way - it only missed me as I thought to check just in case there was a cyclist ignoring the usual road rules. Does this mean tourists should all be mown down? How about partially sighted people - ban them too?
Surely the road and transport network is there for all of us, and all of should be considerate to each other? Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all do dumb things from time to time, as the other road users we should be alert to the possibility and simply not hit them. Easy to do if we all follow the rules and drive safely.
"That near silence can be a bit of an issue in car parks and built-up areas - the number of idiot pedestrians who stepped out in front of me over the course of a week beggared belief. Forget fitting electric cars with an audible means of approach, we need to start running these buffoons over in the interests of Darwinian selection."
That's the point. The Electric Mini which was done a couple of years ago as a pet project was/is a better e Car than this car will ever be.
I'm not trying to compare this car to a Tesla (The dealership here is about a click down the road from me.) That would be unfair.
This 'car' should be compared to a golf cart. You don't like Cushman carts, you have Yamaha,
The smart isn't really suited for highway driving, and even in the city not so much.
As to the 'golf cart'. Yeah I know golf carts since I grew on a golf course as a caddy. ;-)
Don't dismiss golf carts, they have a lot more uses than just being used by the players.
Can we have this shouted from the roof tops please?
"Ideally, you need secure or off-road parking to charge but an extension lead running through the garden and joining the charge cable in a weather-proof housing proved more than up to the job. Luckily, I can park right next to my garden wall, keeping the charge cable more or less hidden from casual glances and felonious passers-by."
I live in a city, my usual commute would be ideal for a leccy motor, but most nights its a 5 minute walk from the 'different every night' parking space I can get. So re-charging is impossible.
The reason hydrocarbons work is that we can fill a tank of many hundreds of kW equivalents in a few moments. Until some boffin can fix that, they wont have mass market appeal. Its not 'range anxiety' thats the problem, its refueling.
...sure, I'm sure the company will happliy stump up several thousand pound to have the pavement dug up, cables laid, posts installed, possible incoming feeds upgraded. Oh let's not forget the annual checks, the liabilty insurance, repairs.
Oh and what output, 3 pin 240? Three phase? What size commando's?
And of the course who pays the bill you? The company? What about shared tennant buildings?
Tax implications if the company provides you with free fuel, which would class as a perk?
Yes sound simple doesn't it?
is for a manufacturer such as Smart to tie up with BP, Total, etc. and offer the ability to switch your dead batteries for charged ones at a "petrol" station.
Sure, it requires a modification to the car design, but the station can store ready-charged batteries and charge you for a) the cost to charge and b) the convenience of an instant charge.
This way, if you can't charge it home, you can pop in to a garage on the way to/from work and quickly swap your batteries.
Assuming they're making their money, the only other concern for the driver is that they remove old batteries from circulation.
I think this is the only viable solution until almost-instant charging is possible.
Plenty of London Boroughs are introducing 'Electric Vehicle Only' bays next to chargers.
Most are openly looking for 'ideas' of where to put future chargers / bays, I imagine the primary criteria is "Who in the Borough will actually use it?" I'm sure that speaking to your council and applying a bit of encouragement could easily get a bay installed near you.
And before you say "But someone will park a normal car there", remember how 'efficient' parking wardens are.
Looks like an ideal town car. Hopefully the price won't be too high because I can really see this taking off for commuters that live in those fancy new blocks with secure parking. The speed figures seem ideal for what it's designed for: Getting to 30 without annoying anyone behind you at the lights and maybe a bit quicker on out of town roads.
Doubt I'd have one though as my lifestyle doesn't suit it, but if it keeps the train moving towards real alternatives to hydrocarbon based driving then that's cool.
Yes, I know the "fuel" comes from coal/ gas/ whatever, but I was referring to onboard hydrocarbon to motion conversion. I like that while there are emissions from the elec generation, they aren't spewing out in congestion in town centres where folk can breathe the smog in.
Ring tones for cars.
A fantastic idea.
I for one can't wait until some snotty teenage twunt with lowrider pants goes and downloads a Rick Ross ringtone to his car and then drives around the middle class 'burbs (aka "his patch") to the tune of "Every day I'm hustling, hustling hustling, hustling"
...but all the stats just seem...20% too little.
Range: would be better if it was 3 figures
Top speed: should be 75, not 62
80% charge: should be quicker, and there's no 3-phase option?
Power: 40bhp on 'boost'...why not all the time?
I was expecting more TBH. Maybe the production one will be more in line with expectations?
Re: deaf pedestrians - half the time they're in 'ipod land' so don't hear buses or trucks never mind cars, electric or otherwise. I don't want an electric car which makes artificial noises...how crap is that.
Not going to comment on the rest, but I for one am THRILLED to see a car manufacture finally take advantage of electric motors natural ability to "boost." This is a somewhat oversimplified explanation (if you want more detail, I suggest you go research how to compare DC motors to IN engines), but it's a good starting point.
You see, the main restriction on power output for an electric motor is a combination of maximum voltage and heat buildup from amperage. The motor/cooling system can handle a certain amount of amperage constant, and that is your base power. However, it can also handle considerably more than that, with the understanding that it a) it becomes considerably less efficient, and b) the inefficiency is expressed as heat dumped into the motor. So the motor can take a "boost" of X amount so long as it will take Y amount of time before it overheats. 2 minutes of "boost" is enough for passing, running uphill, etc - the electric drive smart should, despite having a fairly low top speed, have no trouble hugging right at that top speed in most conditions.
Now, you can argue that Smart should have used a larger motor, and then they could have had an even bigger base and boost - but they were clearly shooting for the small commuter market here. If it's too small for you, then it's too small. Besides, I'd see what happens with the actual production models in a year.
"hat near silence can be a bit of an issue in car parks and built-up areas - the number of idiot pedestrians who stepped out in front of me over the course of a week beggared belief. Forget fitting electric cars with an audible means of approach, we need to start running these buffoons over in the interests of Darwinian selection."
Hum, this could be a problem, for those of use without sight, (I'm blind if you had not guessed). how will we know when an electric car is approaching? I can hear a 'normal' car and judge its distance, but if, however, electric car owners are going to adopt the 'run me over because I'm to stupid to hear/see you coming' approach, I'll have to consider another way of crossing the road.
I think you'll find that (from the outside at least) electric cars make tyre noise just like petrol ones.
Unlike bicycles. I often have to watch peds with 'phones very carefully when they are near the edge of the pavement, and have had plenty of near misses when people step out before they look...
And hitting them will hurt me as much as it hurts them :(
I expect that most blind people don't walk around with 'phones in their ears - one sense missing is manageable, two is getting tricky!
Do you use intersections? Places where it would make logical sense for there to be a cross walk? If you are in a carpark, do you make it a point to "make yourself seen?" If so, between the tire noise (that is still very present, and can be heard as a car comes close to you at slow speeds even in full electric mode) and the general "crossing where people are already looking, both for pedestrians and other cars" you'll be in pretty good shape. I can also say that from experience, unless there is already too much traffic for me to even consider crossing against a light if I were visually impaired, if a car is too far away to hear the tire noise I can pretty much hear the wind noise. The fact of the matter is even internal combustion cars can be really quite these days - the difference between a low rumble you barely hear and a slight whine you barely hear is pretty nominal.
As a blind person, I trust you use those crossing points that beep, and not just randomly step out into the road. I think most of the support of the "run 'em over" theory is from people fed up of swerving from adult idiots (not even children) who start crossing without bothering to look and often without bothering to care...
Assuming you're not buying food for a family of six, the Smart cars *do* have a small boot area behind the seats. The door is split: the glass part can be opened on its own if you just want to drop a few bags in.
If, on the other hand, you *are* buying for a family of six, you'll either already *have* a bigger car with plenty of room in the back, or you're mad.
Clearly you have never used or owned a Smart .. it has loads of room for shopping and two people and it turns on a six-pence.
It's ideal for Germans, Americans and an increasing number of Brits ...
Or for Smart Arses ...
The reviewer took a car on a motorway, during rush hour, that wasn't capable of reaching the speed limit? Any measurement of how much the silence of the car was offset by people honking their horn at him? How about the increase in global fuel economy caused by a mobile speed trap in one lane of the motorway?
(I'm sure that most of the time the motorway was crawling anyway - but on the occasions when it wasn't, this was pretty antisocial. One of the worst traffic jams I've ever seen was caused by someone driving a jag with what looked like collapsed suspension at 30mph in the outside lane of the M25 road works; the queue while everyone tried to merge and file past was miles long.)
I know the speed limit is an upper limit, but some of us have places to go, and anyone holding a line of traffic below the speed limit goes straight in my not-favourite-person bin. Unless they had no alternative route or a passenger seat full of eggs, at least.
On the other hand, if the retail version can hit 75, I'm interested. Although not so much as if Gordon Murray's T.27 is affordable.
HGVs are limited to 56mph.
These don't cause the motorways to self destruct (apart from the times they race each other. At least smart cars passing should be a smaller overall distance).
Some people too are comfortable travelling at 60. (ie. Not everybody drives a BMW or Audi doing 90mph+ like their pants are on fire).
Wasn't that long ago it was close to a top speed for a family car, or at least above 60 was too noisy and uncomfortable.
Most urban motorways have 50mph limits anyway.
Regarding the rear, the boot looks small enough for a couple of bags of shopping, if not the weekly shop with dog food and beer crates.
On the Dave Red Dwarf episodes over easter, the starbug car was a smart, and 2 of them managed to squeeze in the back!
Would've been interesting to see in a roadster, but I think the tooling for that was sold off when the Smart company was close to getting wound up!
And your test was under what conditions? January or August? - Cabin heating and air conditioning both need power. Day or night? - Headlamps and taillamps need power. Raining or dry? - Windscreen wipers need power.
Oh, and - it's a 2-seater, right? And you measured the range with... how many people?
Which is exactly why the car has the option to run the heat or the AC while you're plugged in and charging. A bit of a waste of energy right now, as it appears (from the review) to be an all or nothing thing, but there was also the note about more advanced management apps coming out in the near future. This would allow you to at least start your day, and possibly come back out from work (if you had a charging startion at work), with the heat or AC having just ran for half an hour FROM THE PLUG - no battery drain needed - at full power. Which is still going to drain more juice when you drive as you try to STAY warm or cool, but compared to the initial hit of warming up or cooling down the cabin, it's actually pretty small. Finally, it's a small cabin - smaller cabins mean less energy spent heating and cooling.
Still, you make a very good point. This isn't going to provide the same range in the dead of winter or the heat of summer that it will in spring or autumn. And the Moors of Scotland will probably do better than, say, Austin, Texas, or Nome, Alaska (will the batteries even /work/ in those conditions?). As always, and no metaphor intended in this case, YMMV.
Trouble with a motor at each corner is that they would need to have identical outputs, or have some sort of balancing mechanism (similar to ESP systems) to throttle back a motor to match the output of the one on the other side.
It was explained to me that this is why twin engined cars never really took off.
Instead of a highly inefficient fixed mechanical linkage you would have flexible electronic control and feedback system, which would reduce weight and add very little to the cost - indeed overall cost would be lower. No expensive gear system.
Modern motor drive systems are very sophisticated, especially what are called 4 quadrant drives, which can turn a motor in either direction at any required speed. Precise per-wheel torque control is easy.
Apart from on the motorway, pedestrians actually have right of way (in UK), so it is up to you motorists to make sure you don't hit them if they step out into the road without looking. They are there by right, you have to get a licence, insurance, and pay VED (if applicable) for permission to be there.
As for driving this on the motorway, as you said, the speed limit is the limit, you don't have to drive at that speed if you don't want to, just stick to the first lane and you won't be in the way.
For London traffic, this car is probably even too fast, most traffic seems to be in the 10-20 miles per hour range.
What I don't understand is why someone with tons of cash doens't push for battery 'stations' across the UK...
With a standardized sized battery pack, hot-swappable from underneath a car - you could just drive into a station, have some gizmo swop the pack for a fresh one, pay up, and you are on your way.
Why cover the world in sockets to plug cars into when you can just 'convert' petrol stations into battery charging/swapping stations.
1) standards for battery size and fitment
2) crap loads of investment into stations and battery stock.
but then, you have removed the only real problem with them - range. To stop and 'swap batteries' every 100 miles is not that much hassle for anyone if it's cheap and quick.
You would have thought it could be started in a city similarly to LPG stations - and then move out from there.
Everyone would start creating their own 'standard' battery. If you got around that and got a single standard battery, you'd need it to be modular so that a Tesla could use a multiple of the same batteries as this Smart. That'd lead to a lot of excess bulk (each section would need battery monitoring hardware, a casing that's suitable for massive Lithium batteries, etc).
Then you've got to find the extra space (and this has to happen at several points in somewhere like London or New York or Tokyo) to mount something that's rather larger than a regular garage.
Then there's the storage issue- a mass of lithium cells like that would need to be stored securely- so that's either expensive excavations or even more expensive surrounding land being required for storage. Probably underground as with regular fuel tanks to reduce the footprint of the station and discourage theft.
And then delivery of power / batteries- you'd need either a massive truck to haul around the dead (and still very heavy) batteries or a seriously huge mains hookup. And that hookup needs to be rated to take that extra power right back to the national grid- so if there's one slightly weedier bit of residential wiring in the way you've got to replace all that or risk battery shortages.
What about battery condition monitoring? A year-old battery that's been used daily will have lost a good % of it's capacity- what would you do with those? Keeping it's out of the question- the chances are it'll keep coming back to you until it finally shuts down.
By comparison- with petrol stations, a tanker turns up once a week and empties itself into another tank.
Battery swaps would be a logistical nightmare for public use, though could be a very, very good solution on a residential or corporate scale (where the individual batteries would be relatively small and easily stored).
If this could come in cheap enough, it'll be ideal for me. Just short enough to squeeze in the garage with the weekend car, and it's only got to contend with a 10 mile round trip commute, apart from 60 miles on weekdays.
Shame it will inevitably cost a lot of money, but get it under £15k, I'd be tempted. Novelty value mostly I expect, it would surely be cheaper and better for the environment to just run the current car. Or get a bus pass, but I'm not that desperate.
Is the top speed limited to 62 miles an hour by performance or by some other form of limiter? If the former, is that with the 'boost' active?
Either way, i can see why people are worried about it on motorways - one of these passing a lorry might be quicker than lorry racing, but by the same logic it'll happen more often as it'll gain on more lorrys.
I'm also curious as to how it fares on dual carriageways, where it may have trouble pulling out from any lorries it gets stuck behind?
On the way to work I quite often pass three or four Smart electric vehicles such as these sitting attached to their charging post. Cenex, one of the companies based on the University campus, has been using/testing/etc these from before my office was moved up to the same building that they're based in. Nice looking car and, from what chums of mine who've been lucky enough to have a spin in one say, pretty pleasant to be in as well. If the manufacturer can get the pricing right, this may well be a winner.
...is how many units of electricity (as measured by the domestic electricity meter) does it require to charge the battery from flat?
It might also be useful to know how many units are required to charge it 10%. Then you might have an idea on how much this thing is typically going to add to your electricity bill when you charge it overnight.
I'd like to get an idea of how much it costs to charge verse filling up the petrol version.
I drive a bright red Kia Carens, not the biggest car but by no means the smallest thing on the road. People fail to see me coming, the number of times I've muttered something under my breath, or full on screamed out of the window.......... Strangely enough, its never those that are visually impaired that are the problem. They seem to use things called crossings, the cane or guide dog is also a good give away (the dog even wears a hi-vis vest). I will also admit that I too may have ran across the road but only after looking to make sure i stand a chance of making it to the other side first.
This is clearly not a high point of German engineering. Just like Uwe Boll, the car industry simply is our 'black sheep' and there's nothing we can do about it.
Some of the obvious flaws are for example the DRMed computer inside or the air conditioning.
Again, I'm sorry, please wait for the Indians or Chinese to bring out an electric car. The second generation will surely surpass everything we make.