As we noted a few weeks ago, Daimler is planning to get out of petroleum powered vehicles within the next 7 years. And one of the ways they are looking to do that is with a battery-powered version of the Smart car which, according to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, will be available in 2010.
As an all-electric vehicle, the battery Smart would have a more limited range than a plug-in hybrid such as a Prius or the proposed Chevy Volt. But as a commuter car, the Smart is well suited for limited-range city driving, so the combination may be an appealing one. A preliminary fleet of 100 battery-powered Smart cars has been testing in London since last December.
Daimler is also weighing whether to sell or lease the batteries. By leasing them, the initial cost of purchasing the vehicle would be lower, but the operating cost would be higher. On the other hand, being able to swap out first generation nickel metal hydride battery packs (which should have a range of about 65 miles) with lighter weight, higher power, lithium ion batteries to extend the vehicle's range should appeal to those who want to get an electric car now, but also want to be able to take advantage of technological upgrades that come as more battery powered vehicles reach the streets. Others have pointed out that Smart is just coming into the US this year, so the battery powered Smart might well be something only available in European markets.
Even if it doesn't come to the US, 2010 is still looking to be a watershed year for electric vehicles.
written by Jay Hankins, July 25, 2008
written by The Food Monster, July 26, 2008
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