Following successful trials in the UK, the iconic, zero-emission, smart fortwo electric drive is ready for small series production.

Reaction from customers taking part in the UK trial, including the Metropolitan Police, universities, local councils, architects and energy companies, has proved so encouraging that smart’s parent company, Daimler AG, can confirm that the smart electric drive will go into small series production, with cars coming to the UK in early 2010.

The second generation smart electric drive will also be taking part in projects in Rome, Milan and Paris. Several cities in the US are also due to start trials of the fully electric car and the invaluable feedback will be incorporated into the development of future production models.

Featuring a lithium-ion battery the second generation smart electric drive’s power source will have a longer range, boast a shorter charging time and will give improved performance.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see manufacturers like smart leading the way to make the electric vehicle an easy choice for Londoners. The move to electric vehicles, which emit zero pollution on London’s streets, will have a massive impact on cutting carbon emissions to curb climate change whilst improving air quality and noise levels for our citizens.”

Kulveer Ranger, Mayor’s director of transport, said: “The Mayor and I are working with manufacturers through the London Electric Vehicle Partnership and urge the entire car industry to invest in this technology. Not only can we create green collar jobs but also smooth the way for less polluting transport choices which will improve our air quality, reduce traffic noise and contribute significantly to the Mayor’s ambitious carbon emissions reduction target.”

Dermot Kelly, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz UK, said: “smart have been leading the way in pioneering environmentally friendly, sustainable concepts for future mobility and we’re delighted that the UK trial is proving to be so successful. The smart electric drive is exempt from vehicle excise duty and the London congestion charge and this, underlined with incredibly low operating costs, means that companies taking part in the trial are finding it makes perfect fiscal sense.”

A UK market trial of 100 cars started in December 2007 with fleet customers. The trial lasts for 4 years and customers are leasing the vehicles at a monthly cost of £375.

The smart electric drive burns no fossil fuels and drivers can expect to achieve the equivalent of around 300 mpg from running the vehicle.

The smart ed emits no carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, unburned hydro-carbons, particulate matter or any harmful substance – in fact it emits nothing at all.

The smart ed has no engine oil, oil filter, spark plugs or exhaust. In fact there are only a handful of moving parts in the driveline, resulting in significantly lower servicing and maintenance costs compared to a petrol driven smart. Apart from regular charging the high tech battery is maintenance free and depending on use can last up to 10 years.

The smart ed retains all the safety equipment you would find on a regular smart. So unlike electric quadric-cycles you will find ESP, ABS brakes two airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners on the ed. The ed also borrows the tried and NCAP tested Tridion safety cell from the petrol driven smart.

The smart ed has no gear change and can reach 30 mph in a very nippy 6.5 seconds. It has an electronically limited top speed of 60 mph. All this is made possible by a powerful 30kW electric motor which is built for us by Zytek Automotive.

The smart ed has its own charger on board. This means you can plug it directly into any UK mains 3 pin plug socket and it will happily recharge. The ‘state of charge’ meter on the dash swivels through 90 degrees so it may even be possible to see the state of charge from inside your house!

As a company car the smart ed brings big benefits. Electric vehicles currently get a preferential tax rate of 9% and in the case of the ed, fuel scale charges are dramatically reduced as no petrol is provided and the provision of free electricity by the employer to the employee is not treated as benefit in kind. Furthermore, employees choosing the smart ed as a company car can enjoy a notional taxable value of just £13,750.