PETALING JAYA: Mercedes-Benz Malaysia introduced the electric smart fortwo here today.
But it's not for sale yet.
The second-generation car was brought here on loan from the Singapore distributor as a show car to highlight Daimler's electric vehicle technology on the 125th anniversary of the invention of the automobile by Carl Benz. It is one of three cars on lease in the island republic.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is keeping mum on when it would launch the smart fortwo electric drive locally.
But when the two-seater does go on sale, Malaysians are expected to get the more advanced third-generation model, which is already selling in Europe, the United States, Canada and some Asian countries.
The third-generation model is mainly differentiated by an improved lithium-ion battery for longer range and longer battery lifespan.
Meanwhile, the older smart fortwo shown today is a foretaste of what is to come.
The fully charged battery has enough power to cover about 135km in accordance with the New European Driving Cycle, making it ideal for city use. The battery is installed between the axles to provide optimised space and weight balance.
A 30kW magneto-electric motor is installed at the rear of the new smart fortwo electric drive and reacts instantly, producing 120Nm, a big amount of power for such a small and light car weighing in at 890kg.
The smart fortwo electric drive accelerates from 0-60kph in 6.5 seconds – just as quickly as a petrol model which it initially leaves behind it. It has a top speed of 100kph.
Like all electric cars, it is virtually silent on starting up as there is no internal combustion engine.
Due to the power characteristic of the electric motor, just one single fixed gear ratio is required. There are no gear changes – a major advantage in dense city traffic. To reverse, the engine's direction of rotation changes.
The second generation smart fortwo electric drive is powered by a lithium-ion battery developed by Tesla Motors Inc. with electrical energy of 16.5 kWh.
It is simple to charge at any fused 220 Volt socket. A fully charged battery is sufficient for up to 135km. This range is more than enough for city traffic as studies have shown that cars drive an average of 30-40km per day in towns and cities.
For this, the vehicle only needs to be charged for three hours. At an average speed of 25-30kph that is normal in city traffic the smart fortwo electric drive can drive for around four to five hours continuously before it needs to be recharged. Plugging the car in overnight for eight hours will fully recharge the battery.
This battery management system constantly monitors voltage, electricity and temperature to ensure all parameters are within safe and specified limits.
When driving up long hills at constant peak power (kickdown) – the electronics reduce the power output. However, this is barely noticeable and it rules out the risk of battery overload.
The electronics also monitor the charging process and control the capacity display. The vehicle's power electronics supply the vehicle's electrical system with electric current from the battery via a DC/DC converter.
In addition, they also control the heating and air conditioning, for example, to minimise the strain on the battery. Clever drivers can air condition their smart fortwo electric drive in advance as long as their vehicle is being charged at home.
Daimler claims no other car offers this comfort option.
The smart EV comes on the heels of another car maker that has announced a similar public awareness programme.
Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia said on Tuesday it has recently registered the first fully electric car in Malaysia, the i-Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle (i-MiEV).
Like the smart car, the i-MiEV can be recharged from a regular home socket, produces 49kW of power and 180Nm of instant torque.
The four-seater vehicle can run up to 160km after charging for eight hours at 230V, and has a top speed of 130kph.