I am interested in Electric Smart. This discussion is to talk all about Electric Smart, starting with reasons, through sharing know-how hopefully ending with Electric Smart in our garages. Please join discussion with your thoughts.
Sounds funny to reply to my own post - but to get started I wanted to share my initial calculations on feasibility of using Electrict Smart.
My initial thoughts are a bit discouraging on the cost side.
Skipping all the details it looks like at the cost of kWh at $0.25 that PGE charges me - it would cost me up to twice as much to drive electric Smart than it is to drive gas Smart.
I have found out, that in San Francisco if you have electric vehicle, it is mandatory to go on time-of-use schedule and have a modification done to energy counters (extra cost), thus potentially lowering the cost of kWh to $0.05. If that was possible, then the cost of energy for electric driving becomes competetive with gas engine.
Without an improvement in battery efficiency it's would be hard to make an affordable smart that ran only on electricity. Micro cars have little room to spare for batteries and making a hybrid would require even more space.
As Daimler has proposed we may see the MHD (Micro/Modified Hybrid Drive) smart with little cost increase and a small boost to mpg. We may also see a limited full electric smart for a high price.
There is aChinese made electric car with a smart knock-off body- some showed up on EBay recently. Very limited range, and very low top speed- around 40mph which is only legal on roads marked 40 or lower.
The smart is what it is. If you want an electric car there are some now, more coming. But a truly practical one (the Tesla) will set you back $100K. The Chevy Volt is due to debut this month- it will be out next year or 2010 and run about $35,000.
An electric smart, with batteries in place of the motor, would be a glorified golf cart.
my cousin owns a prius, and although i don't know a lot about hybrids, i do know that his gas milage isn't better than my fully gasoline smart, and he's had to change and buy new batteries every 2 years, since current style batteries stop holding their charge. it's costing him about 2k a pop, and it ends up being cheaper to just buy gasoline. hybrids are lemons.
We just picked up our smart on Thursday 09-04 and are still on the first tank of gas so I don't know yet what our gas milage will be. I have owned a Toyota Prius for a year and a half and can say the smart will never get the milage my Prius does, (50-55mpg)
and the batteries are under warenty for 8 years or 100,000 miles. I am happy with both but the smart is more fun to drive!
From my initial calculations it seems that it is all technically feasible to keep or improve ForTwo's agility and its character we all love so much, while going part or fully electric.
To start - there is no doubt that going electric could cost much more than gas only at the moment - Prius versus half price Yaris with similar power and overall characteristics is a fitting example.
So it all comes down to numbers. I am going to hypothetize here thus please bear with me and correct me any time you see that I am not thinking straight.
I am going to use experience from three electric scooters that I used to drive to work every day for years and enjoyed every silent minute of it and the experience of my friend who was one of the lucky EV1 drivers.
What works for smart:
a) Very Low weight (just above half weight of Prius), thus it should go twice as far on the same battery - (Denny - could you speak up from your experience how far can you get at speed say 35 mph while fully electric? I think I was told it could get up to 2 miles).
b) Very Low weight (again) thus all the electric components can be lighter, with lower power rating and thus much less expensive than for heavier vehicles - easier to obtain.
From the above it seems that it would take one Prius battery to be fully electric for most of my errands and shopping (4 miles drive top). Thus to get me to work at 35mph (50 miles round trip) all I need is 12 Prius batterries? Would that even fit in Smart? That sounds like 36 thousand dollars for batteries alone... Does not sound too good and explains the high price of the British Electric Smart that I saw somewhere.
Anybody would know of better battery alternative that would actually fit into our car?
What about being fully electric on one Prius battery for shopping and fully gas for highway driving? That could potentially keep gas mileage above 60 mpg consistently.
Fully electric, then fully gas? OK- Where are these magic batteries going to fit into a smart? Ever look into your engine bay on the smart? Not a whole lot of extra room in there which might be why the battery is up front under the passenger floor board.
electric/gas combo? Why not just call it a "hybrid"? The batteries in the Tesla work great but a Tesla is $100K. GM could have made the EV1 a hybrid but passed on it. Their bad. But the EV1 has more room in it to add in a small motor to charge the battery. The smart makes use of every inch of it's tiny self. If you re-think the smart you can do whatever you want but it won't be a smart.
I just found out that Prius battery pack weights 68kg. That says that without removing gas engine all I can put is two of these and I reach maximum weight rating of the car. We are down to 8 miles fully electric then if we keep the gas engine in.
In that case we could still use the two batteries to provide 20 percent mileage increase via simple power assist.
In my case it would translate to 60 mpg+20 percent = 72 mpg. Sounds much better now.
Indeed I did - there isn't a room for nothing extra in the compartment engine. The choices I have is either wait for Smart to start selling their own electric version here in a few years, or get serious about hybrid or get serious about something like Volt, or to come up with something on my own (very tempting).
Now, trying to create Prius style hybrid would put it years away as hybrid engines are so far overly complex, IMHO overengineered and I hear hard to scale down. I like the Volt approach that simplifies the coexistence of gas and electric and I think that this kind of approach could possibly be taken in ForTwo considering limitations of space and weight. Then there is always the mild hybrid which with little tooling and hopefully without loosing warranty could be added to ForTwo as an aftermarket.
My calculations seem to be pointing that way as the only financially and technologically feasible for a little guy like me.
So after checking on batterries and power requirements it seems feasible to have a mild hybrid plug-in aftermarket ability for up to 20 percent mileage boost for about 3-8 k (3k if using recovered Prius batteries, 7 if new).
It doesn't sound like worthy excercise if one is only after saving money on gas, as it would take me 20 years to recoup the investment versus my current Smart.
This would put the cost of the car on pair with Prius, but it would end up with 40percent more cost efficient driving.
OK- Now............What actually drives the wheels forward? Electric cars have electric motors. The smart engine drives the transmission. Where does the electric motor fit in? Will you somehow connect it to the tranny or drive the wheels directly? Or is this an electric motor replacement for the smart engine (typical existing gas to electric conversion) but with a gasoline engine to charge the batteries when they get low?
You know the old TV admonishment? "Do not attempt to try this at home"?
Well for the whole day I was working on the response and then pressed one wrong button and away all my calculations went.
So back to our discussion. It is hard to try at home but not impossible since electric vehicles are much simpler than gas ones. However, even if I didn't manage to do it, maybe another participant in this discussion can, as I hope that this discussion will bring us a step closer to the goal of having electric smart in our garage. It is all academic until we get the first one and then we know for sure.
So - I've done more research today. It seems that one way would be to get shell Smart ForTwo (one without engine) - and fit two (maybe more) Etek motors with anything between 500 to 1000 lb of batteries (enough to provide up to 20kWh of energy) plus small diesel generator to meet make that 40 miles day drive per charge possible.
That puts the cost of the electric smart anywhere between 20k and 30k (cost of batteries is variable based on type and source). That sounds not much more than the current Smart price I paid. Thus I am leaning towards accepting that both economic and technical feasibility has been established positively.
Of that every 10 years the batterries would need to be replaced (10-20k dollars).
It seems that all technology to get it done is readily available - all it takes is to couple it with Smart.
40 miles per day places the imaginary electric smart back in the glorified golf cart catergory. If you live in a major metro area you can easily have a 25-40 mile commute to work- so that's 50-80 miles roundtrip. At freeway speeds of 65-75mph your electric vehicle will run out of juice long before you get to work. The limited range is what killed the EV1 and several others as much as anything. Your diesel motor to charge the battery and exend the range wouldn't be legal in many states.
1000 lbs of battery will make the car signifigantly heavier-handling will suffer accordingly. So at the end of the day you will have taken a car with 40mpg or better, that is fun to drive and has go-cart like handling, and a 360 mile highway range and achieved exactly what?