Smart For-us pickup concept juices your bikes

Even if you aren't an eco-conscious bike enthusiast, the new Smart For-us concept has a lot to like.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read

DETROIT--Throw the ebikes in the back and head for the hills.

That's what Smart wants drivers to do with its zero-emission For-us pickup concept, a larger and more functional ride than the gas-powered ForTwo microcar.

Smart unveiled the Tron-styled two-seater at the 2012 North American International Auto Show along with the Smart e-bike, an electric bicycle with a battery-powered motor that can recharge off the car's power supply.

It's an interesting idea if you want to hit some bike paths outside the city but wouldn't mind a little help with the pedaling.

And in this age of high gas prices and parking spots that seem to dwindle every day, the tiny, all-electric Smart seems perfect for active urban lifestyles.

Smart's bike-charging electric pickup (photos)

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The For-us is based on the 2012 ForTwo Electric Drive, cousin of the gas-powered ForTwo that has sold some 50,000 units in the U.S. and about 1.2 million worldwide.

Smart's ebike has a USB connector for portable devices. Tim Hornyak/CNET

About three feet longer than the ForTwo, the For-us is much more than an electric golf cart, yet still subverts the idea of a macho pickup truck with its LED lights, smooth lines, and parallelogram face.

It runs on a 55-kilowatt magneto-electric motor that gives it a top speed over 80 mph, according to Smart. The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 17.6 kilowatt-hours and can recharge from 20 to 80 percent in three and a half hours.

The 3-foot cargo area is an interesting feature here. The power tailgate lowers and the bay retracts 11 inches for easy access.

The bay has docking slits for two Smart e-bikes, which come with 250-watt Bionx rear-wheel hub motors for extra kick with pedaling, belt drives instead of chains, and three-speed gear hubs. The batteries can last for more than 60 miles, according to Smart.

The interior of the For-us, meanwhile, has bold orange, yellow, and silver tones, as well as removable hammock-like fabric on the seats.

Instead of a rear-view mirror, video of the back of the car from a built-in camera is displayed on a dash-mounted smartphone. There's also a yoke-like steering wheel, completing the fantasy feel.

If only it recharged Tron Light Cycles.