Turns Out Tesla Actually Made An Electric Smart Fortwo That Could Do Wheelies

JUN 8 2016 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 31

smart fortwo 2

Electric smart fortwo

Back in 2008, Tesla was on the verge of going bankrupt. The first generation Roadster wasn’t selling all that well and CEO Elon Musk was working ideas and making plans to pull the company through. He had hopes of partnering up with another company for future success. He said, “one of the things I thought would really help to have is a strategic partner.” Along came the smart fortwo deal.

Elon Musk And J.B. Straubel Speaking At the Code Conference About Tesla's History

Elon Musk And J.B. Straubel Speaking At the 2016 Code Conference About Tesla’s History

Musk’s idea became a reality when he went to Stuttgart, Germany to meet with Thomas Weber, Daimler’s Chief of R&D. Weber was pursuing an idea to make an electric “smart” car, but was missing availability of some key components. He had been planning for Daimler to head to Silicon Valley to look into outsourcing the battery and drivetrain.

Tesla was offered the opportunity to dive into the project. However, the company was only given three months and no smart fortwo to work with. On top of this, the Roadster was in production.

Smart fortwos were not sold in the U.S. either, so Tesla had to send an employee to Mexico to purchase one for $20,000 cash and then drive it all the way back to California.

The smart fortwo would be retrofitted with the drive train from the Roadster and a specially designed battery pack. The rest of the smart car, interior and all, would remain unchanged. This made for a veritable high performance go-kart of sorts. J.B. Straubel confirmed:

It was “the fastest smart car ever made.”

Musk said:

“It was so fast you could do wheelies in the parking lot.”

This was not the same electric smart fortwo that made it into production, rather it’s a rare one-off showing what Tesla was capable of doing.

Apparently Daimler didn’t believe the hype when Musk presented the vehicle via PowerPoint. But Tesla had a smart fortwo waiting for Daimler engineers to try out for themselves. Tesla was awarded the official contract to build the electric smart car. Daimler invested $50 million in Tesla for the venture. Musk explained:

“If we haven’t done that, Tesla would have died because the Daimler partnership gave us credibility, that a major OEM was willing to work with us, and they also paid us for the development program which is really helpful from a revenue standpoint.”

“Without that investment, Tesla would have been game over.”

Musk and Straubel talk about the electric smart fortwo at 19:56 in the video.

Source: Tesla Updates

Categories: Smart, Tesla

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31 Comments on "Turns Out Tesla Actually Made An Electric Smart Fortwo That Could Do Wheelies"

newest oldest most voted
St John

Thank you Diamler

Anon

+1000000

scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!)

It was a Smart investment.

Matthias

+1

Speculawyer

Oh, it is really not that hard. There are private conversions of Smart cars that can do wheelies.

Daimler did make a ton of money on their investment.

Open-Mind

“There are private conversions of Smart cars that can do wheelies.”

The only ones I can find run on gasoline.

Snowdall

Oh man I would have LOVED to seen that thing at the very least … or especially slide behind the wheel for a spin. Would have been epic taking on Vettes at stop lights in SV. 🙂

Koenigsegg

I take off on every car in my Smart ED

Driverguy01

not electric but you get the idea:

Smart could’ve been so much fun if not underpowered…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgwzHJo3IXM

Koenigsegg

Smart ED is not underpowered

0-60 in 11.5 seconds? I say that’s way under powered.

I wish SmartED would’ve been what Tesla made with wheelie bar optional. That would’ve shown gas bigots that tiny EV can be helluva lot more fun than gas cars.

Aaron

Remember 100% torque at 0 RPM. Even with mediocre 0-60 times doesn’t mean the car isn’t quick off the line. My i-MiEV, with its 12 second 0-60 times, could easily beat most cars off the line. You of all people should know this… and know better than to knock ANY EVs.

If you’re going 5 MPH and the other car isn’t expecting it, sure, any EV would be quick. But 0-60 in 11 sec (or 13 sec with iMiev) is just way too slow. They perpetuate the myth that EVs are nothing more than overpriced, glorified golf carts. But an EV that can do wheelie? That would’ve been COOL!

Too often, EV folks drink the flavor aid in touting how quick EV is off the line without knowing that popping the clutch in any gas car would be far quicker. I know better to criticize crappy EV, not accepting them all despite their crappiness. You should know me better by now.

Ryan H

Drag race to the other side of the intersection!! lmao

Heisenberghtbacktotheroots

I hope that this “even more affordable car” will be smart like smart.

More “smartness” combined with autopilot will make traffic jams go away! Why carry 4 to 7 seats when you are alone and getting to work…

vdiv

Because we take 3-6 other people out fur lunch, give spouses and kids rides on the way to/from werk, and swing by to rob Costco on the way home and the only place the 16-pack paper towels will fit with a trunk full of frozen lasagna and cases of pineapples is on a seat?!

Koenigsegg

LOL

No one sits in my car except my gf.

Trunks are always empty and never used In my Volt and in my Smart. I clean the seats because they get dusty

My Smart Car could be smaller and it would still have more room than I need

Nix

“No one sits in my car except my gf.”

So you drive one of these?

http://insideevs.com/single-seat-electric-colibri-set-go-sale-2016/

(I kid! I kid!) =P

Priusmaniac

The Ehang personal quadricopter is even smarter.
I wonder if insideevs could cover this one some day.
http://www.ehang.com/ehang184/gallery/

georges

I wouldn’t be too thrilled about sitting in the plane of rotation of the props. Only saw small drones not the big one plus made in China…..but interesting anyway-Thx for the link.

Kosee

They should put some small wheels under that thing so it can park like a car and then slowly roll to a place with enough space to take off (tiny electric motors, like in a ‘hover’board). A flying car of sorts is only interesting if it fits in a parking spot. Otherwise it is just a good looking helicopter.

ffbj

Jay must be away. Letting the inmates run the asylum for a while.

Is it that obviously? I just got back from the Magic Kingdom actually (extra magic hours until 1am, lol)

Koenigsegg

Whenever you see a Smart ED, give a nod because the Model S wouldn’t be here without it.

georges

Great story. Thx

JP DeCaen

Who made that great cutaway? They need to get some credit. More please. Hey, maybe if they ever get some time, Tesla can start a museum with their prototypes .

SmartElectric

I have a Smart ED and a Tesla S 85. The Smart ED with just a driver (no passengers) is quick, just like the Tesla off the light to city speeds 40km/h to 60km/h. I drive them both, and the Smart ED is a hoot to drive, and I prefer to take it to the shops.

See this drag race, Smart ED vs sports cars:

Tesloid

Here it is

Sadly, no wheelies in the video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mVrEdHWqXU

offib

So. The tiny, little electric Smart was the ultimate lifesaver for Tesla’s current potential.

That just seems really heroic to me.

Yup, I already noticed before that the Smart is disproportionately quick from 0-30mph.