America is the land of great automotive freedom, great landscapes, a love of outdoor activities and large pickups for thoroughly enjoying the "American dream. Now smart is countering the "bigger is better" mentality with a surprising new vehicle: the smart for-us study is small, agile and does not need any petrol thanks to its electric drive. With its exterior dimensions (length/width/height: 3547/1506/1701 mm) it could almost go unnoticed on the loading area of a typical pickup, and it also anything but ordinary under the body.
smart is turning the automotive world upside down once again and challenging ideas about what an urban pickup should look like. In a tongue-in-cheek manner the for-us signals that this is the right car for the young and young-at-heart with active lives who attach importance to low emissions and taking up minimum road space. The smart for-us translates the practical loading concept of a pickup to the reality of 21st century urban traffic for the first time. Thanks to the state-of-the-art electric drive with a 55 kW magneto-electric motor the zero-emission smart for-us is agile and lively to drive.
Like car2go, the globally successful car sharing initiative from smart for more flexibility in city traffic, the smart for-us is a mobility concept. Just like the smart fortwo, which has enjoyed success around the world, it has ample room for two people, but it also has space behind for two smart ebikes, which can charge their batteries on the cargo area during the journey. From a trip into town to an outing to nearby nature reserve – the smart for-us safely transports two people and two electric bikes without producing any emissions. The ebikes on the cargo area become range extenders in two respects: thanks to the docking station on the cargo area of the smart for-us their batteries are always charged, and smart for-us drivers can also reach destinations that are out of bounds for cars – for example traffic-calmed zones in the city or isolated park trails.
Even the first glance at the study shows that this smart can do more – yet it remains true to itself. It has a surprising, sassy and robust appearance – but thanks to the visible tridion safety cell and a number of other features it is typically smart. Furthermore, both the interior and the exterior feature a number of charming details which show that the smart designers devoted themselves to the project with the joie de vivre typical of the brand.
Compared with the series-produced fortwo the smart for-us makes a powerful statement and its appearance plays with the martial image of conventional mega-pickups. Nevertheless, it greets the viewer with a friendly yet assertive face. It features convex and sensuously shaped body surfaces. The large brand emblem is proudly sported on the grille, and the front has a pronounced three-dimensional design with an underride guard finishing off the lower part of the front end.
The for-us is raised by 50 millimeters as against the standard smart, and demonstrates that it is perfectly suited to off-road driving, for example to reach mountain bike terrain. In a later development stage the electric drive could be extended in the direction of a 4x4 with two front wheel hub motors.
The longer wheelbase (2480 mm/plus 613 mm) and the track that has been widened by 50 mm on each side also emphasize the robust look of the study. At the same time the extremely short overhangs at the front and rear make it exceedingly compact and provoke supporters of conventional pickups: small is beautiful – even as a pickup.
The smart for-us rolls on Michelin off-road tires measuring 235/55 R 18. The wing nuts of the central mounts of the three-spoke wheels are an attractive detail: they fold out and then serve as a lever to release the wheel nuts.
The design of the rhombic front and tail lights is very striking and is reminiscent of the design of the smart forvision, which caused a stir at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The outer rings illuminate the indicators and daytime running lamps with a large number of rod-shaped LEDs. The lamps seem to push outwards like arrows – like drops on the cockpit window of an aeroplane as it takes off. The tail lights can even be opened and provide stowage space, for example for the charging cable or drinks cans for sporty bikers.
Sleek, taut surfaces in mother-of-pearl white combined with precisely designed technical functional elements in brushed aluminum – the interior is characterized by contrasts. The white metallised leather establishes a link to the instrument panel, which in turn is related to the body. The headrests featuring metallic leather are a reference to the matt-finish textured paint of the tridion safety cell and – in line with the clean design – they largely dispense with seams. Yellow adds highlights to the interior, for example on the seat belts and seat covers. Leather door trim provides a further high-quality contrast.
Like in the smart forvision, the whole cockpit boasts aerodynamic styling for interior ventilation. The control and display elements are oriented to the driver. Just as the cockpit module divides the instrument panel, the two-spoke steering wheel is open at the top. In place of a conventional rear-view mirror the smart for-us features a smartphone accommodated in a holder on top of the instrument panel support. The driver can see what is happening on the road behind with the help of an integrated video camera.
Stylish, uncomplicated, highly functional and easy to individualize – the two seats in the concept car are typically smart. The seat shells, which are open in the middle, are covered with a soft fabric throw giving them a hammock-like seating feel. Practical: when the seat cover on the passenger side is removed long items can be loaded through the seat of the smart for-us.
The study has yellow seat covers with a deep embossed silver hexagon pattern indicating a progression and thus emphasizing the vehicle's dynamism. As the covers can be removed in no time at all, simple individualization with other throws is conceivable. The seats could even be used as avant-garde seating at home or when spontaneous seating is needed outdoors.
The cargo space has two slits for the front wheels of the smart ebikes. A special docking station in the middle enables the ebikes to be charged whilst being transported on the smart for-us. And bicycle tools or other items can be accommodated in the stowage compartments on the right and left of the load space.
Thanks to the 55 kW magneto-electric motor the smart for-us is agile and lively to drive. With 130 Newton metres of torque it boasts powerful, lag-free acceleration and it can overtake other vehicles with the greatest of ease. The maximum speed exceeds 120 km/h.
The lithium-ion battery has capacity of 17.6 kWh. When completely empty it takes a maximum of eight hours to fully charge the battery at a household socket or charging station on the electricity systems of most countries i.e. overnight.
There are two smart ebikes on board the smart for-us – perfect for local-emission-free city driving. The color of the two ebikes, which are based on the production bike to be launched by smart in the spring of 2012, has been matched to the smart for-us. Some of the components, for example the battery housing, therefore come in the highlight color yellow.
smart's high technological standards are manifested in the extremely efficient and high-performance drive package. As a "pedelec" (Pedal Electric Cycle) the smart ebike is strictly speaking a hybrid: the electric motor – a maintenance-free and brushless rear-wheel hub motor from BionX – switches on as soon as the rider starts pedaling as with a normal bicycle. Muscle power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a durable and quiet belt drive. An integrated three-speed gear hub provides for simple gear changing.
The strengths of the ebike include its agile performance: the rider of the smart ebike decides how much power he wants the 250 watt electric motor to deliver to support his muscle power by pressing a button on the handlebar. There is a choice of four power levels with the fourth and highest level providing maximum pushing power. Depending on the power level selected and the manner of cycling a battery charge can last for more than 100 kilometers.