To kick off the latest phase in their electric car program, Smart USA President Jill Lajdzia and Roger Penske, chairman of Smart USA parent company Penske Automotive Group, personally delivered the first Smart ForTwo Electric Drive to a customer in Maryland.
Mindy Kimball, a 36-year-old Major in the United States Army, is the first customer to lease a ForTwo Electric Drive, the all-electric version of the tiny two-seater. It's powered by a 30 kW electric motor with 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, and has an electronically controlled top speed of 60 mph. Although testing has shown the electric Smart can travel up to 98 miles on a full charge, a more realistic highway and city driving pattern will yield about a 63 mile range.
These vehicles are only available in the U.S. by lease. Interested parties can apply to lease a vehicle on Smart's Web site. Early adopters of electric vehicles will face a few challenges while the industry matures. But they'll also receive a few perks. By leasing a ForTwo Electric Drive, Kimball became a member of Team 250, which is the second phase of Smart's program to roll out electric vehicles in the U.S.
The program will place 250 electric vehicles with companies, municipalities, organizations, and individuals around the country for testing. Members of Team 250 will receive other perks such as a concierge service, personal access to Smart USA's Electric Drive expert, 24/7 roadside assistance, and a chance provide feedback about their driving experience.
The next phase will be full series production of the electric two-seaters, which is scheduled to begin in 2012, to make the electric ForTwo available to the public for purchase.