Most electric cars can handle snow, but there's a fair bit of placebo in play when you have an 'AWD' button.

ElectraGirl: One Year with the Smart Electric Drive

Saturday 13th February 2016

It has been a year, nearly 9,000 miles, and we are still having fun – Our Smart Electric Drive has been with us for one whole year. I have to say that it is one fun little car. Whatever you ask of the Smart Electric Drive it will do and, it will do it to the very best of its abilities. It is a little on the bouncy side, which seems more noticeable now after installing the lowering springs on the BMW i3. But it is compact and so easy to manoeuvre and park anywhere; which is why it is great to take to the supermarket and, the best part is that it fits a weeks’ worth of shopping in the back with ease. It is still by far the easiest car to wash and dry, mainly due to its size but it doesn’t have all the nooks and crannies that the i3 has.

Summertime Smart

We have had 110 miles of range available in the Smart Electric Drive through summer, but now the weather is chilly and we need to use the heater so we are looking at between 60 and 70 miles of range. This, of course, is always dependent on who is driving the car!

Okay here comes my rant – The eco-meter on the Smart Electric Drive still bugs me. It bugs me because, the first part of the journey when I leave home in a morning, and I have a full charge, is all downhill, so I do not use any power. As I am going downhill to the junction at the bottom, my only course of action is to use the brakes – I don’t even use the accelerator, I just cruise down the hill under the cars own momentum, gently applying the brakes. I then get penalised for that and have the eco-ness taken away from me and the gauge drops. As far as I am concerned that is really unfair, the car should know that I haven’t used any power and that, if I didn’t apply the brakes – which I am doing so nice and gently all the way down the hill so as not to have press them really hard just before the stop sign or – I would end up plopping out into the junction! I really don’t expect to lose percents just because I have 100% State of Charge and I have to stop at the stop sign and use the brakes. This is my biggest annoyance with this car so you get an idea of how I feel about it otherwise.

Interior space is generous for two

Interior space is generous for two

While over in the UK recently I saw a lot of Smarts – unfortunately they were mostly of the petrol variety. They are definitely very popular over there and I think that is down to the size and the ease of using them in the town centres, especially for parking, where spaces are on the smaller side.

The Smart Electric Drive definitely lends itself to town centre driving, in fact it is absolutely perfect for that. You can easily fit two Smart Electric Drives in the space that one ‘regular’ car would fit into.

Back in New Jersey and the deep snow, the Smart has excelled at getting about. After clearing 24″ of snow from the driveway, it leapt into the snow covered road and roared off without a hint of wheel-spin, well, not too much anyway. Being so short, and truly having a wheel at each corner inspires a lot of confidence.

I like the Smart Electric Drive, its range is more than enough for the around town driving that we do. I’m not sure that I would take it on a long drive – Hmm, maybe I would. But, I think it works best for commuting and around town. It would benefit from having more regenerative braking and that being more on the accelerator. It could use DC fast charging as an option – not sure it is a necessity though. It could do with a little firmer suspension too!

Fully loaded

Fully loaded


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  • vdiv

    What kind of cold weather features does it have and how well have they worked?

    • Electra Girl

      It has optional heated seats which we have – they work really well. Remote pre-conditioning – you can set the departure time – works well. It doesn’t take long to heat up as it’s small inside and once warm it stays nice and toasty!

      • vdiv

        Does it fog up easily? The Volt was pretty hard to keep clear, the most effective way was to crack-open the windows, at least briefly.

        • Electra Girl

          It doesn’t, the only time it starts to steam up is if we have it on recirculate, as soon as we turn that off, it’s fine.

  • Stephen Noctor

    Love em. Saw these last year at an Otis elevator service shop. They had two. Went in and talked to the guys who use them. They were just cars to those guys who were driving them around to service calls, which is great. Cool how is says sustainable solutions on the back.

  • Spencerforhire

    Hi , Can I ask a question?

    I also have had my Electric Smart for a year and a bit and absolutely LOVE it! BUT I just had the first year “Service ” done at the dealer and have found the car behaves differently since then . .. It could just be me, or the freaky non-Winter we are having, but when it is bellow freezing the car does not take off the Line like it did a year ago . And it was -30C (-22 fahrenheit) two days ago and the ABS light came on , have you had any glitches with the Software? And problems at really COLD temps?

    • Electra Girl

      When it’s cold the power is definitely reduced unit;l the battery has heated up, making it slower to accelerate. We haven’t had any software glitches and haven’t taken it in for it’s ‘service’ yet!
      What did they do at the service?

      • I don’t know either. It’s 2.5 years for me, and the car has never seen the dealer since, not for service or anything. Just topped up the wiper fluid recently, that was the first time I opened the front hood!

  • BenBrownEA

    Is DCQC an option at all? I’ve all but talked my neighbor into going from Smart gasoline to looking at a battery Smart. Driving to get serving is 150-200 miles though…

    • Rumor has it that a third-party provider may be looking into it.

    • Electra Girl

      There isn’t at the moment, but we are waiting to hear if it is going to be a possibility down the road.

  • My personal experience is to “game” the ECO meter to see how low I can get it. My commute is along back streets with lots of stop signs. I pretty much hammer the throttle up to speed limit every single stop, and I never worry about regenerative braking efficiency. My record is 7% ECO on a 20 km run. 😉 This little car is so fun to drive, it’s my preference over our Tesla for short runs to the store, and of course I only drive my Smart ED on my commute, it’s perfect for that.

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