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What was the range of the 451 ED? The range of the 453 is terrible! Base $23K?

 

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The EPA specified range for the 451 ED was 68 miles, but it also specified a slightly worse energy efficiency number so this new 58 mile number must include some other adjustment based on factors that I don't know. If we used the energy capacity of the battery and calculated it as it seems to have been done with the 451 ED, the 453 ED would have about a 70 mile range.
 

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The major complaint from just about about everyone regarding IC smarts in general is how little fuel economy benefit there is for such a small lightweight 2-seat car - and this seems to extend to the electrics. The 1600 lb heavier, mid-size 4 seat, Chevy Volt gets about almost that much all-electric range from a comparable sized battery pack.
 

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I was wondering what the real life range would be in stop and go traffic? 102+degree weather. AC on full. The heater, head lamps, wipers on. In winter conditions. Going home from work, in my 451. I would be stuck in traffic, for 2-3 hours, on the highway.
 

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Volt can seat 5 now on the newer one no? (Us Asians are relatively small).

Poor aerodynamics due to interior roominess?

I agree that range leaves a lot to be desired, unless one could charge both at work and home for example...

If it weren't for pre-existing damage I didn't want to deal with reporting I would have tried a 451 ED Car2Go in Amsterdam. Lost chance...
 

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The major complaint from just about about everyone regarding IC smarts in general is how little fuel economy benefit there is for such a small lightweight 2-seat car - and this seems to extend to the electrics. The 1600 lb heavier, mid-size 4 seat, Chevy Volt gets about almost that much all-electric range from a comparable sized battery pack.
There is some small loss associated with the regen process, but by and large, the propulsion side is very efficient. So it might take more power to accelerate a heavier vehicle but you get most of that back during regen. The extra weight will cause some but not a lot of extra rolling resistance.

What really kills a Smart is the poor aerodynamics. It's hard to make something big enough to accommodate a passenger compartment, short like a Smart, and have it be aerodynamic. Cars like the Bolt can do much better because they have a more gradual nose and longer length to allow air to recombine less turbulently. Those are losses you don't get back, so any type of high speed running will penalize the Smart more than something like a Bolt.

I think a larger battery pack would have helped with efficiency. This would allow them to put more current to the motor, and they could have spun the electric motor more slowly. A larger battery pack would allow slower current draw which would allow extraction of more of the usable capacity as well.
 

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I was wondering what the real life range would be in stop and go traffic? 102+degree weather. AC on full. The heater, head lamps, wipers on. In winter conditions. Going home from work, in my 451. I would be stuck in traffic, for 2-3 hours, on the highway.
I used 70% of the battery traveling exactly 58.5 miles. I ran the a/c the entire time. ECO for 28 of those miles. Was comfortable the entire time. Weather between 95 and 102, generally about 98-99 most of the time. I was in freeway traffic, at times bumper to bumper, other times open road. I would have no problem handling the rated 58 miles.

However, it's warm out. The jury is out to see what it can handle in Wintry weather. I believe the 58 is a lot more accurate for worst-case, Wintry weather situations.
 

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There is some small loss associated with the regen process, but by and large, the propulsion side is very efficient. So it might take more power to accelerate a heavier vehicle but you get most of that back during regen. The extra weight will cause some but not a lot of extra rolling resistance.

What really kills a Smart is the poor aerodynamics. It's hard to make something big enough to accommodate a passenger compartment, short like a Smart, and have it be aerodynamic. Cars like the Bolt can do much better because they have a more gradual nose and longer length to allow air to recombine less turbulently. Those are losses you don't get back, so any type of high speed running will penalize the Smart more than something like a Bolt.

I think a larger battery pack would have helped with efficiency. This would allow them to put more current to the motor, and they could have spun the electric motor more slowly. A larger battery pack would allow slower current draw which would allow extraction of more of the usable capacity as well.
Agree with your assessment of the physics. There is definitely a aerodynamic price to be paid for the styling of the SMART. Some are willing to pay that price; particularly those who drive below 50 mph. As far as a larger battery pack, that would also entail a cost, both in price and in styling. SMART is clearly aiming for the target crowd that values inexpensive, safe, low range, unique styling. If they change the styling to make it more efficient or change the battery size to increase range, they compete head to head with the big electrics, which does not seem to be their goal.
 

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Agree with your assessment of the physics. There is definitely a aerodynamic price to be paid for the styling of the SMART. Some are willing to pay that price; particularly those who drive below 50 mph. As far as a larger battery pack, that would also entail a cost, both in price and in styling. SMART is clearly aiming for the target crowd that values inexpensive, safe, low range, unique styling. If they change the styling to make it more efficient or change the battery size to increase range, they compete head to head with the big electrics, which does not seem to be their goal.
Since the introduction of the 451 ED back in 2013, battery costs per kwh have gone down by about 50%, and power density per kg has gone up as well. You've now got a vehicle that is several inches wider than the 451, so a modest battery pack redesign could have added enough additional capacity to achieve a lot of these goals, without adding to much to the cost. Even something like the capacity of the previous generation Leaf's 24 kwh battery pack would have been a huge step forward. Discharging at the same maximum rate as used in the 451 ED, it would have outputted 78 kw, so making probably right around 100 hp. The existing engine in the 451 ED is the same unit that is used in the Fiat 500e that makes more than that, so it's not like they would have had to use a whole bunch of new components.

So say they did that, and MSRP was the same as the 451 ED at about $26-27k. Imagine if it had 100 HP and could do 0-60 in around 8 seconds, with an EPA range of 80 miles. And still be available as a cabrio. Wouldn't that draw a lot more people into the showroom? Especially if word got out that the real-world range in warmer conditions was well over 100 miles?
 

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Whether the 453 can actually achieve 58, 68, or 78 miles of range is irrelevant to Joe Consumer.

Official ratings count. Period.

The official rating says 58, and that puny official rating will deal the ED its death blow. The '58' number will be a total turnoff, when headlines for other desirable EVs are now touting 200-300+ miles of range. If smart can't win in the headlines, then smart can't win at all.

Consumers are not logical, by and large. And we all know that range anxiety – no matter how illogical the fear – will not favor an EV with a number in the 50s. It's pointless to discuss how much better than 58 the 453 ED might do, when the consumer is fixated on one fact: official ratings.

We all love the smart concept, but the brand has now been relegated, by virtue of its published range handicap, to keeping company with the lowly iMiev. How often do you see an iMiev on the road, despite its low price? If the smart were at all relevant today, the media would have a field day mocking its 58-mile reversal of progress.

This is a problem that cannot be wished away.
 

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Agree with your assessment of the physics. There is definitely a aerodynamic price to be paid for the styling of the SMART. Some are willing to pay that price; particularly those who drive below 50 mph. As far as a larger battery pack, that would also entail a cost, both in price and in styling. SMART is clearly aiming for the target crowd that values inexpensive, safe, low range, unique styling. If they change the styling to make it more efficient or change the battery size to increase range, they compete head to head with the big electrics, which does not seem to be their goal.
It's just such a hard value proposition now, and I currently drive an econo-EV with low range.

The 451's value proposition was much better because another $5-10k would net you maybe 10-30 more miles.

It's much harder to make that proposition work because another $5-10k now doubles or quadruples your range when going to a Leaf, Bolt, or Model 3. Plus now you have significant 0-60 time differences (Model 3 or Bolt), significantly better standard feature list (every car on the list), and more.

City-only drivers in California who gain significant parking advantages can still see value in that car (because parking can be worth $5-10k in its own regard), but anywhere where it hits below zero or where parking is available is a different story.

Anyways, batteries have improved significantly since 2013 (look at Tesla energy density and costs) and the 453 is wider. They could have done more and I imagine at a similar price point to the last-gen. It's just disappointing they're so far behind in the battery technology--I don't think the smart would need much to stay compelling, but this is just so much more a niche than the last generation. I have legitimately been cross-shopping between a Model 3 and a next-gen smart ED because I really love small cars, the turning circle, the lower cost, and its ease of use in the city; however, even with the positive test drive results I'm extremely worried about sub-zero temperatures on my current commute.
 

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Whether the 453 can actually achieve 58, 68, or 78 miles of range is irrelevant to Joe Consumer.

Official ratings count. Period.

The official rating says 58, and that puny official rating will deal the ED its death blow. The '58' number will be a total turnoff, when headlines for other desirable EVs are now touting 200-300+ miles of range. If smart can't win in the headlines, then smart can't win at all.

Consumers are not logical, by and large. And we all know that range anxiety – no matter how illogical the fear – will not favor an EV with a number in the 50s. It's pointless to discuss how much better than 58 the 453 ED might do, when the consumer is fixated on one fact: official ratings.

We all love the smart concept, but the brand has now been relegated, by virtue of its published range handicap, to keeping company with the lowly iMiev. How often do you see an iMiev on the road, despite its low price? If the smart were at all relevant today, the media would have a field day mocking its 58-mile reversal of progress.

This is a problem that cannot be wished away.
Your arguments are cogent and well thought out. I too was surprised the new range numbers are so low. No question it can't be good for sales. Will it kill the brand? Perhaps. But I don't see how you can feel so certain. The decision to dump the ICE SMART and keep the ED was certainly thought out by management. No question it costs them millions to keep the some of the dealerships open, sales staffed, cars in lots, minimal advertising, etc. They see something that shows them some hope for the future. Perhaps they envision a next generation ED with high range, or perhaps they envision a future where they can tout the tax credit while the big boys will be boxed out of them, or perhaps they envision significantly lower costs to batteries that allow them to compete head to head with low cost ICE cars. While I certainly agree that the low range significantly cuts their market, I am not ready to declare the brand dead in the US, particularly if SMART just made a decision to keep the ED but kill the ICE. Would have made more sense to kill the ED at the same time if they felt there was no chance at a profitable future, which they clearly felt was the case with the ICE. MB is not stupid; they have been around a long time; I am sure they are not keeping ED sales just to waste money. These are cold hearted businessmen; abandoning the loyal ICE customers was obviously done to avoid losing money; so why would they keep the ED? Lots of MB electrics now, so no need to have additional electric options. They made a million dollar gambit to kill the ICE and keep the ED, so they see something.
 

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One thing that is virtually certain: no new generation of smart will be federalized. The costs of homologation for Canada and the USA mean they have to sell tens of thousands a year for a business case to have any NPV at all.

The 453 likely won't repay its certification costs for the USA and Canada, and it will therefore probably be the last smart in North America. I expect that M-B will persist with the ED for another year, maybe two, then "pull the plug".
 

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The world is rushing into producing EVs with far greater ranges. Along comes Smart with less range that matters, especially in our cold winters. I could not go into the city and back using the heater in the winter.
Something isn't right here and I doubt we will ever know the truth. It might be that the EPA has revised ratings and MB had to release the lower numbers - for now.

If not it will really and truly remain a city car and maybe that was the objective?
 

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I was wondering what the real life range would be in stop and go traffic? 102+degree weather. AC on full. The heater, head lamps, wipers on. In winter conditions. Going home from work, in my 451. I would be stuck in traffic, for 2-3 hours, on the highway.
The stop and go traffic actually works in the EVs favour. When you're stopped the motor takes no power. Lower speeds are much more efficient because the car isn't pushing a lot of air. When you slow down the regenerative braking puts a portion of the expended power back in the battery. So compared to an ICE smart, WAY more efficient for locomotion.

AC is pretty efficient in the 451. Maybe 10% range loss @ full.

Lamps, wipers etc. are minimal. An H7 is 55W, the battery has over 17000W. So you could run the headlights for 150 hours or more. Not a major factor.

The seat heaters are VERY warm and you don't need to use the cabin heater very much. I also did wire in some heating pads under the driver and passenger mats for winter use. Makes a big comfort difference when your feet don't get cold.

In the 451 ED my wife did a 4 hour, 54km commute in a blizzard and arrived home with 45% of the battery remaining. So while she was intentionally careful with the power, she probably didn't need to be too conservative.

All that said, I'd take our Mazda when temperatures are below -10C. The heater in the 451 is an amazingly inefficient (crappy) design. Pretty much every newer EV uses a heat pump for much better efficiency. The 453 should perform better in this regard.
 

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Whether the 453 can actually achieve 58, 68, or 78 miles of range is irrelevant to Joe Consumer.

Official ratings count. Period.

The official rating says 58, and that puny official rating will deal the ED its death blow. The '58' number will be a total turnoff, when headlines for other desirable EVs are now touting 200-300+ miles of range. If smart can't win in the headlines, then smart can't win at all.

Consumers are not logical, by and large. And we all know that range anxiety – no matter how illogical the fear – will not favor an EV with a number in the 50s. It's pointless to discuss how much better than 58 the 453 ED might do, when the consumer is fixated on one fact: official ratings.

We all love the smart concept, but the brand has now been relegated, by virtue of its published range handicap, to keeping company with the lowly iMiev. How often do you see an iMiev on the road, despite its low price? If the smart were at all relevant today, the media would have a field day mocking its 58-mile reversal of progress.

This is a problem that cannot be wished away.
Thank you again Steven. :) All this talk about what the new 453 electric could do is completely irrelevant on the grand scale of things. While Mister_smart_LA is so very awesome and that dealership's a lovely candy store, he is an exception to the ever increasing norm of how smart centers are run today.

Most people will see the 58 mile EPA number paired to the price, roll their eyes, then spend just a teeny bit more money and get themselves a 200+ mile EV that can seat 4 people and can be serviced at a dealer down the street from their home. I'd get a smart electric in a heartbeat. In fact, since I have a house now I actually have a way to charge an EV too. But, most car buyers aren't like us smart fanatics. :/

That assumes smart USA even advertises the car in the first place. People can't buy your car if they don't know that it exists...

Your arguments are cogent and well thought out. I too was surprised the new range numbers are so low. No question it can't be good for sales. Will it kill the brand? Perhaps. But I don't see how you can feel so certain. The decision to dump the ICE SMART and keep the ED was certainly thought out by management. No question it costs them millions to keep the some of the dealerships open, sales staffed, cars in lots, minimal advertising, etc. They see something that shows them some hope for the future. Perhaps they envision a next generation ED with high range, or perhaps they envision a future where they can tout the tax credit while the big boys will be boxed out of them, or perhaps they envision significantly lower costs to batteries that allow them to compete head to head with low cost ICE cars. While I certainly agree that the low range significantly cuts their market, I am not ready to declare the brand dead in the US, particularly if SMART just made a decision to keep the ED but kill the ICE. Would have made more sense to kill the ED at the same time if they felt there was no chance at a profitable future, which they clearly felt was the case with the ICE.
Firstly, I adore your optimism. I can see that like me, you like to turn bad news into something that can be good any way you can. I hope I'm not making baseless assumptions, I hate doing that! :D But I can say that I saw a lot of me in that comment there.

Unfortunately for me, smart USA is an exception to my "always optimistic, always" approach to life.

This brand, these cars, these are my dreams. I joined this site when I was a 15 year old who fell in love, but felt like I'd be too heavy for a smart. Fast forward to today and if you met me in a bar, I could easily tell you the entire spec sheet of a 451 ED or a 451 ICE no matter my current state of mind. In the same breath I'd be able to tell you the entire history of smart along with some secrets I discovered during my years of research.

I love smart so much I'm going to make a mini smart center in my garage!

This brand is pretty brilliant. You could definitely make the argument that smart made city cars trendy and popular in the early 2000s and on. They did this by completely out of the box thinking too!

Unfortunately this brilliance is lost for the North American markets.

MB is not stupid; they have been around a long time; I am sure they are not keeping ED sales just to waste money. These are cold hearted businessmen; abandoning the loyal ICE customers was obviously done to avoid losing money; so why would they keep the ED? Lots of MB electrics now, so no need to have additional electric options. They made a million dollar gambit to kill the ICE and keep the ED, so they see something.
Penske graced us with smart in 2008. They launched the fortwo to much fanfare...So much that within a couple months there was a waiting list over a year long just to get one. So many people actually bought smarts without previously seeing one or even taking a test drive.

Penske also brought with them a revolutionary dealership experience and a forward thinking smart USA. Visiting a smart center back then was something completely out of the ordinary. It felt like visiting a local art gallery rather than a dealership. It was an experience that amplified how draconian standard dealerships are. Then with smart USA, they made sure the leadership was deeply ingrained with the US smart community. They came to our events, they helped bring more people to smart, they made people excited to own such a great vehicle.

The only thing I can fault Penske with is not advertising. They must have felt the strong sales of 2008 and 2009 would hold forever, but they got a rude awakening in 2010 once all of the Orphans were sold off and used 2008s were flooding the market from people who impulse bought their smarts.

In a panic, they produced the "Against Dumb" campaign, which only further drove a nail into sales by effectively calling their target market dumb with pretentious advertisements. They attempted to double down by importing Nissan Micras and slapping smart badges on them, but ultimately Mercedes-Benz USA took over control of smart USA.

Under control of Mercedes-Benz USA they completely dumped the Penske formula. They stopped being involved in the smart community, they stopped priding themselves on having informed salespeople, they stopped the Penske dealership experience...Instead they adopted a worse version of every other dealership in America.

Of course, sales did increase under MB USA distribution, however I wouldn't attribute that to their leadership. The economy got better, the 451 got refreshed, and the electric drive became a tangible thing. It seemed MB USA was banking on the launch of the 453 to explode sales, so they never tried too hard to get people to buy 451s. The 453 ended up being launched to positive reviews, but otherwise little fanfare from the general public. Once again, MB USA didn't bother trying outside of their social media road tours.

The well documented history of MB USA's smart USA shows that they aren't ruthless business people, they are the opposite. They make infuriatingly bad decisions over and over and over and over while saying "why can't we sell any cars?" They're like someone who shoots themselves in the foot then asks why is their foot bleeding. It isn't just bad with smart either. They marketed the electric B-Class poorly and unsurprisingly they sold few. It is to be wiped off the lineup in the third quarter of this year.

Will we ever know why they decided to slash their income by 75%? Probably not. One thing is for certain though, unless they have some magical trick up their sleeve to save smart USA (documented history would say otherwise) like a cheap forfour or a crossover, the 453 will likely be the last new smart to be sold in North America.

I wouldn't be surprised if Mercedes-Benz announced their first EQ branded car in America then killed off the 453 electric drive soon after.

I'll be redundant when I say that I love smart to death. I do. This is my dream car brand. I want to have a warehouse chocked full of smarts and any smart concepts I can get my hand on. I also think smart is brilliant for knowing where their best market is right now (China). They are securing themselves as a viable company globally for years to come...Just, I cannot say the same for the smart USA branch.
 

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Firstly, I adore your optimism. I can see that like me, you like to turn bad news into something that can be good any way you can. I hope I'm not making baseless assumptions, I hate doing that! :D But I can say that I saw a lot of me in that comment there.
Guilty as charged, Miss Mercedes. Perhaps as much as optimism, I also like to play devil's advocate, the contrarian. I too view the lack of range as a problem for viability of the brand. That can be said of all electrics of course, even the biggest Tesla, but obviously it is worse for SMART. And the consensus could be correct; SMART in the US will no longer exist in a few years. I've got mine, and have a brother-in-law mechanic who can fix anything. Thus, it won't affect me much either way. But potentially there are many reasons the ED could sell well.

One of the big selling points for me was safety. Not just the air bags and Tridium Cell, but also the cold hard facts presented by the IIHS (Insurance loss information). I don't want my wife or kids driving a small death trap, so that was very reassuring to me. No question these safety features add to the overall cost, but it is exactly where I wanted cost to be added. This may give the ED an edge over other small electrics, but then again, it didn't make ICE sales jump off the chart either (although the gas tank and transmission issues didn't help).

And the difference in cost is not trivial. Particularly for some of the less well off among us. The low lease rates, exceptional prices for buying a used car, and cost after tax credit for new cars (for those that can use it) make the ED attractive. True, if I needed four seats or high range, I would leap at paying thousands more for that, but many don't need either of those. And the potential for huge cost savings is there if the tax credits phase out for Bolt, Nissan and Tesla but remain in effect for SMART.

By the way, love the wealth of experience you bring to the discussion!
 
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