New Smart Electric Offers Less Range, Less Power and Fewer Dealerships

By · August 15, 2017

2017 Smart Electric Drive

In February 2017, the Smart automotive brand said it would exclusively focus on making and selling pure electric cars. Production of gas-powered Smart cars for North America was reportedly halted in April. With that change, and in what appears to be an unwinding of its US presence, Smart’s 85 dealerships will be reduced to only 27 locations in the coming months, according to a report this week in Automotive News. Daimler is the parent company for both Mercedes-Benz and Smart.

The surviving dealerships are located in California, New York, and other states with zero-emission vehicle mandates. Daimler executives said they expected to see dealerships remain in cities such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Portland, Ore.

The redesigned 2017 versions of the ForTwo Electric Drive coupe and convertible are slated to go on sale before the end of this summer. The new model was previously expected to hit the market in late 2016. It’s the only electric vehicle on the market that’s available with a convertible top.

The new version defies the trend for electric cars, which commonly receive upgrades in range and power in successive generations. But the driving range of the 2017 Smart Electric Drive fell by 10 miles to just 58 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That breaks down to a city range of 63 miles and a highway rating of 51 miles. The new 2017 model of the Smart Electric Drive is also slower than its predecessor—using an 81-horsepower electric motor to reach 60 miles per hour in more than 11 seconds. Its top speed is 81 mph.

The starting price of the 2017 Smart Fortwo electric drive was reduced by $1,200 to $23,800 before incentives. The price climbs as high as $26,640 for the Prime trim with 15-inch wheels, leather upholstery, and a panoramic sunroof. According to Automotive News, the company is offering lease deals as low as $109 a month for 2017 models.

Sales of the Smart Electric Drive have steadily declined in the past three years. Daimler sold 2,594 units of the Smart Electric Drive in 2014—the first full year of sales for the small two-passenger electric car. Since 2014, sales slipped to 1,387 in 2015; and 657 units in 2016.

According to reviewers, the latest all-electric Smart drives better than gas-powered versions. Like most electric cars, the Smart Electric Drive is very quiet and smooth. The new model takes on larger dimensions—more than four inches wider than the previous version—while remaining very maneuverable and manageable in crowded urban environments. “The smart is the perfect city car,” said Dr. Annette Winkler, the chief executive of Smart. “We are looking forward to the unique driving fun offered by the new Smart Electric Drive, and at very attractive prices.”

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