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Electric Smart Fortwo trial charges off at last

Date: 20 September 2007

Local authorities in London and Newcastle, police forces, a fleet services agency and a sustainable property developer will be among the first people to trial the Smart Fortwo electric in the UK in the final quarter of this year.

Around 100 all-electric Fortwos will take part in the trial, which has taken more than a year to arrange after delays caused by problems with battery technology and control systems. As a result, the electric cars are based on the old-model Smart while the new Smart Fortwo will be used for a second trial in another European city early next year.

Customers will pay £400 a month to lease the cars from DaimlerChrysler Financial Services over four years, but project manager Pitt Moos said the saving on congestion charging (£8 a day in London) would "make the costs even with a petrol Smart".

The Smart electric has been developed by DaimlerChrysler in conjunction with Lichfield-based engineering specialist Zytek. It has a range of around 70 miles, a top speed of 70mph, and can be recharged from a conventional power socket.

Moos said the purpose of the trial was "to gain technical data and also understand more about what makes an electric-drive customer tick".