When the Paris auto show kicks off October 1, those in attendance will get their first look at the new 2017 lineup of Smart cars. The division of Mercedes will be the first car brand to offer an all electric version of every model — the Fortwo coupe and cabriolet and the Forfour sedan. The Smart has never really caught on in the US, where its diminutive size makes it look vulnerable to all the SUVs and pickup trucks on the road. But they are popular in Europe, where crowded cities and lack of available parking make them, well, a smart choice.
The electric cars will be outfitted with an all new Smart Electric Drive system, built by Mercedes-Benz in partnership with Renault-Nissan. Its specifications make it seem like an ideal choice for most urban commuters. It has a Euro-cycle range of 99 miles (more like 75 miles in EPA testing). It uses a 17.6 kWH battery that can be recharged in just 2.5 hours using standard household current. (Note: household current in Europe is 220 volts. Figure 5 hours for charging in the US on 110 volts.) Best of all, the battery is large enough to qualify for the full federal electric car tax credit of $7,500. A smartphone app allows owners to adjust charging and climate control settings remotely.