I’ve been touting the incredible lease deals automakers are offering on electric cars — $199 a month for the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Spark EV and the Fiat 500e. Until now, I was also including the Smart Fourtwo Electric Drive (ED), but that one’s just had a price change — it’s now cheaper!
The two-seat Smart hardtop is now $139 a month for three years, with $1,999 down. Now, I’ve heard of one-time deals where cars like the Nissan Leaf went for $139 a month, but it wasn’t company policy. I looked at a few lease gas-car prices from last year, and the only one I could find cheaper than $139 is $99 a month for … a Smart Fortwo, the gas version of the Smart ED. A Ford Focus was $169 a month, a Honda Civic LX $220, a Buick Enclave $299, a Chevy Malibu $179.
The irony is that electric cars are basically more expensive than gas cars, but because they’ve been slow moving, and because automakers have to sell them to meet their federal and California mandates, we’ve been seeing them topping each other in a race to the bottom. Don’t question it, just sign up! Incidentally, three years ago, the previous Smart ED leased for a whopping $599 a month. No wonder they signed few deals, and most of the cars ended up in a San Diego-based car-sharing program.
Another advantage here is this: I’ve driven the Smart ED in third-generation form, with a 17.6 kilowatt-hour lithium battery, and it’s considerably more fun to drive than the gas version. The battery car has a 47-horsepower electric motor, but can apply 74 horsepower for short bursts of acceleration. There is 96-foot-pounds of torque on tap. It will take 11.5 seconds to reach 60 mph, which doesn’t qualify it for the Indy 500, but it gets there 1.3 seconds faster than the regular Smart Fortwo. You are limited to 76 miles on a charge, and a full charge at 240 volts (as seen in Europe, below) takes about six hours.
I drove the Smart ED around Brooklyn, and loved its torquey kick, which felt like way more than 47 horsepower (and may well have been, given those 74-hp bursts). It’s the perfect Brooklyn hipster car, especially if our hipster couple doesn’t have any children or pets.
I didn’t know the lease price then, but I was well aware that it was also a relative bargain at $25,750 (including destination), which whittles down to $18,250 after the federal income tax credit and $15,750 if you happen to live in California (and can snare a $2,500 rebate). Now there’s a deal. Want more? You can also cut the price by $5,010 if you lease, instead of buy, the battery. There’s also the Battery Assurance Plus program ($80 a month), which guarantees the pack performance for up to 10 years.
Mercedes is introducing a new S-Class, and it’s going to sell a lot of those in California. But to avoid big state air quality fines, it also needs to move the Smart ED. I can't bring it to your house for a demonstration, but I can offer this pre-release driving video from Engadget:
Related on MNN: Our blogger spends a week with a Smart Car