Tag archives for Daimler

Driving the 2013 Smart Fortwo ED

2013 Smart Fortwo ED.Mercedes-Benz USA 2013 Smart Fortwo ED.

Of all the new features on the 2013 Smart Fortwo ED, including a larger battery pack and a more powerful motor, one is engineered to garner the most attention: its price.

Accounting for the maximum federal income tax credit of $7,500, the price of the 2013 model, scheduled to go on sale next spring, can be reduced from $25,750 to $18,250. From there, any available state subsidies could be applied. In California, where a zero-emissions-vehicle program recently awarded its 10,000th rebate, the price could potentially fall a further $2,500.

Even for non-Californians, the positioning makes the Fortwo ED the lowest-price battery-electric car on the American market. Donna Boland, a spokeswoman for Mercedes-Benz USA, said the company did not intend to “play games” and advertise the price inclusive of the tax credit.

Smart USA brought its electric cars to Brooklyn on Wednesday for test drives along the waterfront and around Prospect Park. It was a homecoming of sorts, as the company offered test drives of the second-generation car, which was only available for lease, in the borough in 2010.

According to Heiko Schmidt, a Smart product manager, Tesla Motors, which supplied the battery and other components for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class E.V. on display at the Paris motor show, was not producing the battery for the updated and upgraded Fortwo ED. Instead, the vehicle will ship with a 17.6 kilowatt-hour battery pack from Deutsche ACCUmotive, a subsidiary of Daimler, owner of the Smart brand.

At peak output of 55 kilowatts, the motor can produce 74 horsepower in two-minute bursts. The motor, according to Mr. Schmidt, is produced in a joint venture with Bosch. Charging the battery from depleted to full using the 240-volt charger, a $1,300 option, would take about six hours. A driver would reach a 20 percent to 80 percent level of charge in 3.5 hours, Mr. Schmidt added. Though Smart USA asserted the Fortwo ED’s travel range on a full charge would be 90 miles, the estimate had not yet been corroborated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The result is a vehicle that feels quick off the line, with an available 100 pound-feet of torque and a manufacturer-estimated run from zero to 60 miles per hour in 11.5 seconds, an improvement of 50 percent over the second-generation car, Mr. Schmidt said. It would also make the Fortwo ED quicker than a standard Fortwo, as observed by Edmunds. Top speed of the electric car is about 80 m.p.h. The Brooklyn streets were best for stop-and-go, so the Smart’s highway prowess was untested.

The utilitarian interior of the Fortwo is retained, with the addition of battery-related gauges and a touchscreen.Jim Motavalli The utilitarian interior of the Fortwo is retained, with the addition of battery-related gauges and a touchscreen.

The interior of the Smart does not vary greatly from that of the standard car, and the battery pack, mounted under the floor, does not intrude into what little storage space is available. Information on the car’s state of charge and power demand is available from two dash-mounted instruments that resemble tachometers, and the driver can check miles-to-empty and set charging times using a small display.

The options list for the Smart has not been published, but drivers would be able to order paddles mounted behind the steering wheel that controlled how much regenerative braking the car deployed, a useful feature, I found. Choosing extra “regen” extended the car’s range and also reduced the need to use the brake pedal. In any mode, the car was quiet, with only a minor amount of motor whine. Being tiny, it was easy to whip around corners and fit into tight spaces.

Smart USA, having come under the purview of Mercedes-Benz USA in 2011 after the Penske Group relinquished control of the brand, is in recovery mode. Tracey Matura, the general manager of Smart, said the company had 89 dealers, up from 75 when Mercedes took over 15 months ago. Smart sold 1,030 cars in September, an improvement from earlier rock-bottom results and up 120 percent from the same month last year.

Ms. Matura added that Daimler’s plant in Hambach, France, would be able to meet the demand for electric Smarts, should that demand materialize.

The new car is available for sale or lease, but the lease price is not yet available. The rate ought to be far more approachable than the $599 a month charged for the second generation, of which just 250 were made available to consumers in the United States. A further 300 of the second-generation E.V.’s went into service in San Diego in the fleet of Car2Go, a car-sharing service backed by Daimler.

The microcar would also be offered in Cabriolet form for $28,750, giving the company another distinction in the absence of the discontinued Tesla Roadster: the only mass-produced electric convertible in the United States.

Smart is encouraging consumers to preregister their interest in the Fortwo ED on a dedicated Web site.

The E.V.'s, on display in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday.Jim Motavalli The E.V.’s, on display in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 5, 2012

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the output of the Smart ED’s motor. At peak output of 55 kilowatts, it produces the equivalent of 74 horsepower, not 47 as initially written.


Mercedes to market Tesla-powered 2014 B-Class EV in U.S.

2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class - white - front three-quarter static view

Looks like another Tesla Motors investor will be looking to cash in on their connection. Autoweek reports Mercedes-Benz will offer their B-Class in the U.S. with Tesla propulsion.

The magazine says their source at the German automaker confirms plans for a B-Class electric-only vehicle. While Tesla already provides battery packs for the battery-powered Smart ForTwo, the B-Class EV will reportedly have Tesla batteries, motor and other components. U.S. residents should be able to procure one sometime in 2014.

The same Mercedes source says plans for a hybrid B-Class have been postponed for now. Adding a range-extending, gasoline-powered engine to an electric vehicle would put the car into a different class for which rebates and incentives aren’t as favorable in the States.

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler owns a 4.7-percent share of Tesla. Toyota also owns part of the electric-car company with which it builds electric RAV4 crossovers.

By Chris Tutor

Daimler Deserves Credit for Saving Tesla Says CEO

American electric automaker Tesla is enjoying great success, at least in terms of the EV market, and its CEO Elon Musk credits Daimler for saving the automaker in its time of need.

Three years ago, Daimler invested a hefty $50 million into Tesla Motors, a move that surprised even the most enthusiastic Tesla supporters. In a recent interview, Elon Musk revealed that Tesla Motors would now be extinct if Daimler hadn’t stepped in with its funding. In Musk’s own words, “There were a couple of near-death situations.”

Surprised? The bold CEO now has no problems sharing his thoughts on competitor Fisker, and Tesla is clearly heading towards in the right direction. Had Daimler not stepped into the picture however, we wouldn’t be speaking about Tesla at all today, and who knows where Musk would be in terms of finances.

Thankfully Musk confirmed that Tesla’s financial status is “pretty good” and we should be seeing plenty more from the automaker for years to come.

[Source: Autoblog]

By Jason Siu

Electric Teamwork: Seven Carmakers Agree on Single EV Fast Charge Standard

Electric Teamwork: Seven Carmakers Agree on Single EV Fast Charge Standard

With the rise of electric vehicles comes the risk of confusing methods to charge the batteries. Thankfully, seven automakers have collaborated and reached an agreement to standardize EV fast charging methods in the United States and Europe.

The automakers include Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen. All seven have agreed on one vehicle inlet/charging connector as well as the method in which the car communicates with the charging station. They also considered the future of smart grid application and have decided to use HomePlug GreenPHY for the communication protocol.

The agreement is compatible with the J1772 connector standard in the U.S., now used at Level 2 (220V in the U.S.) charging stations.

“At Ford, we know how important it is to provide technologically innovative solutions that are convenient for our customers – it’s part of our ‘One Ford’ vision and a key factor in our company’s overall success,” said Steve Biegun, Ford’s vice president of international government affairs. “We applied the same philosophy in working with other global automakers and governments to offer one common approach on charging electric vehicles – helping speed infrastructure development, strengthen economic growth and most importantly, make charging even more convenient for our customers.”

However, it’s a different story for Japanese cars such as the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i, which currently support the CHAdeMO standard for level 3 DC fast charging (anywhere between 300-500 volts). That means owners of Japanese EVs will likely have to use adapters for any quick charging station that isn’t CHAdeMO compatible. Tesla, which created its charging units prior to standardization, also requires an adaptor for any station outside of the automaker’s proprietary connectors for all charge levels (1,2, and 3) for both the Roadster and upcoming Tesla S sedan.

Source: Ford

By Erick Ayapana

Elon Musk: ‘The credit for saving Tesla should go to Daimler’

tesla daimler deal

Back in 2009, the plug-in vehicle world was surprised to learn that Daimler had invested $50 million in Tesla Motors. What we didn’t know at the time was that the money came deus ex machina style just before the EV startup reaper was about to knock. Turns out, Tesla’s financial situation was much worse back then than anyone realized.

AutoblogGreen recently spent an hour interviewing Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and when we asked about the money, Musk said, “The credit for saving Tesla should go to Daimler. It was the Daimler investment that saved Tesla in early 2009. … 2007 and 2008 were especially bad for us. … There were a couple of near-death situations.”

Those near-death situations include the time Musk needed to funnel a lot of his personal capital into Tesla – “I literally had to borrow money for rent” – in order to get through 2008 and early 2009. Having run through a lot of his own money, he appreciated Daimler was investing in Tesla even though Daimler itself was cash strapped. “When someone is hungry themselves and they give you a bit of food, you’ve got to be grateful for that.”

Musk added that Tesla’s financial situation today is “pretty good,” and that the company has “a couple hundred million dollars” in reserve. As long as there aren’t a “bunch of screw-ups,” then the automaker should be in good financial shape, he said.

Stay tuned for more from AutoblogGreen’s one-on-one interview, including the full transcript, later this week.

Related GalleryDaimler Tesla press conference

By Sebastian Blanco