Smart Electric Drive Launches May 15th – Lease, Battery Rental And Option Details

2 years ago by Jay Cole 25

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabriolet...In Us Customers Hands On May 15th, 2013

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabriolet…In Us Customers Hands On May 15th, 2013

After a couple delays in getting the Smart ED (Electric Drive) into the hands of customers in the United States, the first of the 2 seat, 68 mile cars will be released on Wednesday, May 15th.

Open-Top Fun Starts At $28,000

Open-Top Fun Starts At $28,000

The first wave of cars will only be in selected regions, think mostly CARB states; namely CA, CT, ME, MA, MD, NJ, NY, OR, RI, VT.  A full national roll-out begins on September 1st of this year.

Update (September):  National rollout has been delayed until “early 2014″

It should be noted that Canadian deliveries went off basically as planned, with the first cars being delivered in mid-April.

The Smart Ed comes in two basic trims.  The first being the coupe which starts at $25,000, with a Cabrio model for some open-air fun also available from $28,000.  There is also a $750 dollar destination charge that also applies to both models.

One of the more intriguing things about the Smart Ed is that it is the electric vehicle in the US to offer three different financing options, including the recently announced battery rental deal.

Here is how the three deals work (as we have learned from the dealership level):

  1. You buy the car outright and receive a 4 year/50,000 mile warranty on the vehicle (no option as of yet to extend that)
  2. You lease the car.   Smart is promoting what seems to now be the “standard EV lease deal” of $199 a month with $2,000 down
  3. You purchase or lease the car and then rent the battery
A Look Inside The Smart Electric Drive

A Look Inside The Smart Electric Drive

It is the third option is what we are most interested in exploring, especially recognizing that it was this financing option that actually caused the Smart ED’s introduction to be delayed in the US, as lawyers hashed out a way to absolve the dealerships of the liability on the batteries…as is required of them in places like California.

Inside the battery rental offer:

  • Purchase and rent the battery: Smart USA values the battery pack inside the car at $5,010, so if you are purchasing the car, the base net is now $19,990.  Vehicle owners are then required to pay $80/per month on a 5 year/60 month term.  Smart has a renewal program entering month 61 that lets you extend the deal for another 5 years, at the same $80/month rate.
  • Lease and rent the battery: similar to the lease deal, except in this case you are looking at $119 lease and a $80 battery rental
As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

It should be noted that under this program, Smart now warranties your battery pack to retain 80% of its charge for the duration of the contract, up to 12,500 miles per year.

“Purchase, finance, or lease a smart electric drive and we’ll rent you the battery, guaranteeing its capacity level and covering your annual battery maintenance costs for 10 years. And if you need a replacement battery during your rental term, it’s on us. How’s that for peace of mind?” - Smart USA

 

If at anytime you want to break the rental deal, you can, provided you then purchase the aforementioned battery at the full $5,000 valuation.  If you don’t wish to buy the battery and also own the car, that is also apparently an option as Smart’s fine print says “…once you cancel, you will be required to return the battery to mercedes-benz financial services.”  We have no clue exactly how this works, or why anyone would choose this option.

Note "Value Added" Marketing Graphics By Smart USA

Note “Value Added” Marketing Graphics By Smart USA

Basic Smart ED specs:

  • EPA range rating of 68 miles, with the car getting 76 miles in the city and 59 on the highway
  • MPGe: 122 city, 93 hwy and 107 combined
  • 17.6 kWh lithium battery made by Deutsche ACCUmotive
  • 55kW (74 hp) electric motors that puts out 130 Nm (96 lb-ft of torque)
  • top speed: 78 mph
  • 0 – 62 mph in 11.5 seconds
  • 100% charge (240V) in 6 hours
  • 80% charge (240V) from 20% to 100% in 4.5 hours, 20% to 80% in 3.5 hours
  • all season tires – 155/60R15 on 4.5Jx15 (front), 175/55R15 on 5.5Jx15 (rear)
  • length – 106.1 inches (8.8 feet), width – 61.4 inches, (5.1 feet), height – 60.7 inches (5.1 feet)
  • US Curb Weight: 2,094 lbs (coupe)  2138 lbs (cabrio)
Ok, This Is Not The Best Selling Feature Of The Car

Ok, This Is Not The Best Selling Feature Of The Car

Smart ED Options:

  • Ambient Internal lighting system ($190)
  • Multimedia Navigation system ($1,290)
  • Surround system ($490)
  • Center Console Storage ($30)
  • Retractable Cargo Cover ($99)
  • Heated Seats ($240)
  • Anti-theft alarm system ($200)
  • LED daytime running Lamps ($250)

 

As Part Of A $900 Option, You Get This "Kinetic Green" Trim Around Your Instrument Cluster

As Part Of A $900 Option, You Get This “Kinetic Green” Trim Around Your Instrument Cluster

Smart ED Packages:

  • Kinetic Green Appearance package ($900)
    • Green painted tridion
    • White body panels
    • Green interior accents
    • White wheels
  • Technology Package ($1,600)
    • Multimedia Navigation System
    • Surround Sound System

While the Smart ED has all the quirky spartan-coolness you could stand in a 2-seat, open top electric car, it has lost the pricing advantage it had 7 months ago when the car was first announced, as the new 2013 Nissan LEAF S model is now entering its third month on the market with a near identical lease deal, and a similar price of $28,800.

So, will the uniqueness of the Smart Ed make up for the lack of functionality, range and the loss of 3 seats that you can purchase in the LEAF for basically the same amount of money?  That is a question yet unanswered.

To check out more details in the battery rental program, called the “Smart Battery Assurance Plus” program, check out the PDF here.  To build your own Smart ED, or learn more about the car, check out the company’s new webpage here.

Below: Smart ED Gallery (double click)

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25 responses to "Smart Electric Drive Launches May 15th – Lease, Battery Rental And Option Details"

  1. Brian says:

    Jay, could you explain to me the difference between leasing the car + battery for $199/mo and leasing the car for $119/mo and renting the battery for $80/mo?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I wish I could flush that out a little more for you right now, but it would only be speculation as to the differences at this point.

      Smart’s website is live with the ED’s specs and what not, but as of yet they have not promoted any of the financial numbers themselves…the info in the story has come from the dealership level only.

      I imagine Smart will have some kind of formal announcement between now and Wednesday when the car is released, or perhaps someone will come by to comment that has purchased a Smart and is waiting on delivery to give us more 411.

  2. zilm says:

    $5010/17.6 KWh is $284.66 per KWh. Already less than $400.

    1. Brian says:

      Good point! I wonder if one can buy these batteries apart from the car. I can think of all kinds of projects for which a 17.6kWh battery is well suited….

    2. Cavaron says:

      Want one or two!!!

  3. David Murray says:

    The instrumentation looks way too low-tech for my taste. One of the main selling features of an EV for me is the high-tech appeal.

  4. Mark H says:

    $5000 for 17.6kWh battery. That’s $284/kWh. That is real news. Isn’t this number falling faster than previously predicted? Now with two battery producing plants in the US, will this number fall even more? $5000 for 17.6kWh or $284/kWh, that’s not bad from $500-600/kWh in two years. This shows there is room for price movement like what we saw in the Leaf. Very believable that the number can halve again in five years. For now, not bad, not bad at all.

    1. KenZ says:

      I’m too lazy to do the deep digging, but do you (Mark) or anyone else know if the vehicle is capable of using all that. Meaning: is that 17.6kWh of USABLE energy, or are they, like some EV manufacturers, using only the middle, say, 80%? Granted, even if the full battery spec is 17.6kWh and they’re only using 80% (thus you’re getting an effective 14.1kWh), it’s still a reasonably impressive $355/kWh. I’m just curious of anyone knows the answer to this.

      Anyway, agreed that the price for the battery in either case is very satisfying.

      1. Mark H says:

        I would not begin to know how they are managing the chemistry of their battery at this point. That is a question for Jay. Also there are a zillion ways to calculate the $/kWh of a battery. Even here as Jay answered below in more detail there is a bit of “spin” on the $5000. Any movement is good movement and there continues to be slow steady movement.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          The 17.6 kWh is not all usable and even Smart says that the percentage is also “dependent on power output and temperature” (pretty standard fare)

          Im am 99% sure you are looking at LiFePO4s at play here, as that is what Daimler’s JV Deutsche ACCUmotive is known for.

    2. Anderlan says:

      It’s possible they are underpricing their battery for financial reasons. But then they deserve to get strung out for charging so much for the car sans-battery (why can’t they make it for $13k, like the gas mode???) Either way, they are being turds, and EVs should be going down in price fast. We need more volume and competition.

  5. Acevolt says:

    No way would I lease this over the Fiat 500E or the Leaf.

  6. Anderlan says:

    This is interesting, if the battery is really only $5000. We are told that batteries are what make EVs expensive. Well, that doesn’t fly now. Because if the car sans battery could be made at the price of the gas version, then they could sell these at $18,000! (Since the gas version costs $13,000, plus battery cost of 5, equals 18.)

    So, either there are *other* inherently expensive parts of the EV than just the battery. Or, the higher cost is merely because of lower volume. I say, increase that volume, damnit!

    1. Jay Cole says:

      You do have to consider that smart is ‘valuing the battery’ at $5,000.

      If you buy the car and rent the battery, you have a 5 + 5 year battery rental, and pretty much you are going to be paying that $80 until the car is dead…so the owner(s) are looking at a commitment of $9,600+ over its life.

      The total package is still $25,000 regardless, and that is double the $12,490 the car starts at…there is $12,510 worth of EV premium at play here, plus the savings of ex-ICE components.

  7. kdawg says:

    $5010/$80 = 5.2 years you have bought the battery. It would make no sense to buy the car and lease the battery if you planned on keeping it for more than 5 years. If you did decide to sell the car, you would have to sell it w/out a battery.

    1. Transportation of the future says:

      “$5010/$80 = 5.2 years you have bought the battery. It would make no sense to buy the car and lease the battery if you planned on keeping it for more than 5 years.”

      Yes, it would make sense for some people, also to rent the battery in case they wanna keep the vehicle for longer, as one can see in the “battery assurance plus” PDF that was linked to at the bottom of the article. Because one 1) has a guaranteed battery capacity of 41.6 Ah, up to 10 years, 2) included annual maintenance of the high-voltage battery, up to 10 years and 3) battery repair or battery replacement, if defective, at no cost (should it ever be necessary), up to 10 years.

      EVs are a new technology, and it’s clever to provide an option to take the worries about the new technology away for customers who might be afraid of taking risks when making an investment into a new technology like EVs. After all, the battery is considered to be the most expensive component of an EV. So in the US the battery rental is called “battery assurance plus”, in Germany it’s called “Sale & Care package”. And for some people it might be worth it, knowing that if f.e. the battery degrades too much after 5 years, it’s just gonna be repaired or replaced for free. If that’s not only the case once, but even twice or three times during 10 years of owning the car, it’s all no problem for the customer, as the cost of keeping the battery in good working order is always on Smart. It’s great for consumers to have this extra option.

      For people wanting to just buy the whole vehicle, to have the piece of mind “This car is all mine! I want total ownership!” – no problem, says Smart – buy it. And for people who want the peace of mind “if something happens to the battery – I’m not gonna have to pay for it” – no problem, says Smart – rent the battery. Whatever the customer wants, Smart offers it.

      In Germany, where the vehicle is already on the market for quite some months now, this approach worked quite well. The e-Smart’s market share is really dominating all other EVs so far – though that might change soon, with the launch of the Renault Zoe. But Renault Zoe is just offered with 1 of the 2 options, battery rental or leave it. With a e-Smart, consumers have a choice. It seems to work well so far. People who order an e-Smart now in Germany, have an estimated waiting time of 9 months, before it is delivered. Now it’s exciting to see how the US market will react to the vehicle.

  8. Future Leaf Driver says:

    Does the Smart offer a 30 min quick charge option or is 3.5 hours to charge the best it offers?

    If not, the Leaf is a better deal with more space and options!

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Nope, no quick charge.

      It is actually 6 hours for a full charge, for some reason Smart split out partial times. 2%0 – 100% in 4.5 hours, 20% to 80% in 3.5 hours.

      1. Anderlan says:

        No high power DC connector of either kind? That makes my decision easier.

      2. DrInnovaiton says:

        I was reading the charging of 20-100% as the full usable “extended range” and the 20-80% as the normal range. (Similar to that in a Leaf). Are you saying 20-100% if measured in usable SOC?

        The renting is a pacifier for those that worry about battery life.. will be interesting to see if people are silly enough to go for it.

  9. kdawg says:

    “as the new 2013 Nissan LEAF S model is now entering its third month on the market with a near identical lease deal, and a similar price of $28,800.”
    —————-

    And the Leaf has a longer rage, faster top speed, and more room. I guess I’m wondering who would choose the Smart? The un-smart? Maybe people w/small garages or trouble parking?

    1. Brian says:

      “I’m wondering who would choose the Smart? The un-smart?”

      +1

      I’ve often wondered that myself about the gas versions.

      1. Transportation of the future says:

        There is nothing un-smart about choosing a small vehicle, in case it fits the needs, actually then it is rather smart. Of course a two seater might not serve well as a family vehicle, as the “F” in the LEAF acronym stands for family. But there are a lot of 1-person or 2-person-households, and for many, it makes sense. Why move one and a half tons or steel and other stuff through the cities and countrysides, to transport a 160pounds of a human body around from A to B. It’s smart, not to waste materials and energy, which are not endless in supply, to build and operate too big of a vehicle. Also space within cities is not endless. It’s not only easier to find parking spots f.e. in street parking for the owners of small vehicles themselves, they also take up less space that’s then unavailable to everybody else. It makes sense. There are even garages in the US that give a considerable discount on monthly rates for Smart car owners. It makes sense for garage owners, too, as they can easily fit two Smarts into the space occupied by one regular vehicle. In that way, Smart car owners should be applauded, as they willingly choose to have less, so there is more left for everybody else. Just as inhabitants of carless households or users of public transportation should be appreciated, as they don’t contribute to congestion, pollution, space being taken, unfavorable land-use patterns etc in the way motorists do. For everyone choosing automotive transport in vehicles larger than the Smart, that’s legit and alright, still one is not un-smart if one chooses otherwise.

        1. Mark H says:

          This is better understood in Europe and Japan but will be slower to change in the US Market. Note the complaints about the Volt seating only 4. Australia and North America has more geography and thus the need for more range. For this reason the EREV will have more success here along with larger EVs.

          Having said that, your arguments are accurate and there seems to be a small market for new generation US drivers who will be attracted to the Smart/Fiat/Mitsubishi based on family size not geography. You have made a good argument. You should submit an article to InsideEvs with your case. It is a brave new world.

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