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Discussion Starter #1
Evaluating if a Smart ED is a good choice for my wife and I.

Biggest Concerns:
Winter driving. A lightweight rear wheel drive car in a snowy and hilly environment. I've read defrosting and cabin heating are an issue in very cold weather. Battery depletion, especially in winter. A scenario, 10 mile commute one way, rush hour traffic makes journey an hour long. Heater, window defroster running. At office car sits outside in cold temps for 8 to 10 hours then the same trip home under the same conditions. Does it have the juice?

Positives:
Small footprint, can fit in my garage space along with two motorcycles. (This is important)
Quirky styling is appealing.
Curious about owning an electric car.
Low cost barrier for entry compared to other EV's.
Two Smart dealerships each less than 10 miles away.

Right now I'm debating if it is worth giving up my 2009 Mazda 3, which is paid for and trying a Smart. Truthfully I would rather own a Bolt but it is too expensive for our current budget at this time. Plus it is a normal sized car so that eats up garage space.

The Smart ED has lots of compromises but what it does well is very unique.
 

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Biggest Concerns:
Winter driving. A lightweight rear wheel drive car in a snowy and hilly environment. I've read defrosting and cabin heating are an issue in very cold weather. Battery depletion, especially in winter. A scenario, 10 mile commute one way, rush hour traffic makes journey an hour long. Heater, window defroster running. At office car sits outside in cold temps for 8 to 10 hours then the same trip home under the same conditions. Does it have the juice?

Positives:

Two Smart dealerships each less than 10 miles away.
Welcome to SCoA and the wild and crazy world of smart ownership which today is not without some unknowns . . .

451 or MY17/18 453 ED? Cold weather impact (Boston) on the all-new 453 is unknown while the 451 has been highly documented over the last 3-4 years.

Two smart Centers less than 10 miles away - may want to call them and ask if they will continue to sell ED or service only?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for reply, MB_DNA. Both dealerships still have active websites and I have visited one personally and know they are continuing on. I would be looking at the 453 version, I like its styling best. I've also read it is much improved in its chassis and driving characteristics. Plan on leasing as I don't want to be stuck with an electric car because the tech is evolving so much. At least that is the current thought.
 

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Thanks for reply, MB_DNA. Both dealerships still have active websites and I have visited one personally and know they are continuing on. I would be looking at the 453 version, I like its styling best. I've also read it is much improved in its chassis and driving characteristics. Plan on leasing as I don't want to be stuck with an electric car because the tech is evolving so much. At least that is the current thought.
Hey Asalazar,

I am the manager of the dealership in Lynnfield MA, and my colleague Todd runs the Somerville/Boston location 10 miles away. Feel free to meet with either of us to drive and discuss the new 453 electric smart car.

The 453 offers a new winter package with extra insulation and heated steering wheel. Pair that package with heated seats, and winter range should not be as much of a concern as the old 451- especially for a 10 mile (each way) commute that you have. Heated seats/heated steering wheel use much less energy than heating the whole cabin air. In the 451 I'd turn heat on for a few minutes until warm, then use heated seats to be more than comfortable. As for the driving aspect, electric cars are more fuel efficient in stop-and-go traffic than at highway speeds due to regenerative braking. If you can plug in at home after the commute each night, I don't think you'll have anything to worry about. Even the 451 could more than handle the commute you've described.

-Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hey Asalazar,

I am the manager of the dealership in Lynnfield MA, and my colleague Todd runs the Somerville/Boston location 10 miles away. Feel free to meet with either of us to drive and discuss the new 453 electric smart car.

The 453 offers a new winter package with extra insulation and heated steering wheel. Pair that package with heated seats, and winter range should not be as much of a concern as the old 451- especially for a 10 mile (each way) commute that you have. Heated seats/heated steering wheel use much less energy than heating the whole cabin air. In the 451 I'd turn heat on for a few minutes until warm, then use heated seats to be more than comfortable. As for the driving aspect, electric cars are more fuel efficient in stop-and-go traffic than at highway speeds due to regenerative braking. If you can plug in at home after the commute each night, I don't think you'll have anything to worry about. Even the 451 could more than handle the commute you've described.

-Dan

Thanks, Dan. We've met in person already and I am looking forward to visiting your shop soon. Traveling out of the country at the moment returning next week. Looking forward to a test drive.
 

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Winter driving. A lightweight rear wheel drive car in a snowy and hilly environment. I've read defrosting and cabin heating are an issue in very cold weather. Battery depletion, especially in winter. A scenario, 10 mile commute one way, rush hour traffic makes journey an hour long. Heater, window defroster running. At office car sits outside in cold temps for 8 to 10 hours then the same trip home under the same conditions. Does it have the juice?
Snow tires are essential on any car in winter driving conditions. Don't leave home without them, particularly rear wheel drive cars like the Smart.

Our Smart 451 ED does 34 mile each way commute in winter with 1-2 hour timeframe. Its uses 60% of the battery to do this (including winter fade) and gets charged at work. We use the defroster intermittently. For primary heating we use the seat heaters (which are great), but I also installed an under floor mat "seat" heater kit to keep my wife's feet warm.

We wouldn't do that commute below -10C. But for a 10 mile commute, no worries.

Oh, and the more you drive it the more you save money vs a gasoline or diesel vehicle.
 

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As far as winter driving with a lightweight RWD car, I've done that with a first gen Miata that is roughly the same weight, and have done so in the past with even lighter weight cars. It's all about the tires. Good winter tires and you can go anywhere that you would reasonably care to go, and with a good safety margin.

The good thing about the strong regen in an EV is that is a very safe way to slow down. Once you use the brakes to the point where you lock your front wheels, you have no directional control. The main thing you'd want to make sure of is that you understand how the traction management system works when the car starts to slide a bit. It can be a bit startling the first time that the car thinks you're out of control and cuts regen on you, which changes the car's attitude and also has an effect through the brake pedal before the mechanical brakes take effect. I can induce this regularly on dry, warm pavement so I will need to test this more as things get wet or snowy/icy.
 

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I would also consider a new old stock one. IIRC, the dealer in NJ had a handful of new 2015's still in stock. Depending on your tax situation, buying one of these, minus the credit, will be less cost than your lease payments - and you'll own the thing.
 

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Let me add that having a small-footprint car like this is an incredibly fun and beneficial experience. For instance, I'm now a handful of days away from retiring. There is very limited parking in our building's garage, yet I've been driving the ED every day and parking there, in a little corner cubby that is too small for a regular car but very roomy for the ED. And it has a 120 volt outlet near by so I charge up to full every day at work and don't have to recharge at home.

Driving in traffic is like a video game. Take a look at a small gap in traffic. Way big enough for the Smart. I can literally cut five minutes off my commute from just being able to get into the fastest lane, which changes several times during my 16 or so mile drive on the freeway. And all without overly annoying anyone.

The ED does not heat up the garage. Drive a gas engine car hard and park it, and the garage is 100 degrees F. The ED doesn't generate enough heat to begin to noticeably warm up the garage. That's a huge benefit as our garage is also our storage area for all sorts of things.

It is quiet! If you unplug the noisemaker, people literally can't hear you coming. It's very serene and relaxing driving at slower speeds, and the big pano roof helps that a lot.

I like the quirky nature of it. I've had at least 20 conversations about it in my tennis club's parking lot alone.

We figure that over the 2000 miles we've driven it so far, we've probably saved $600 or more in fuel and (future) maintenance costs over our gasoline vehicles.
 

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Biggest Concerns:
Winter driving.
No problem with good snow tires. Shameless plug: buy mine!

For the range, 10 miles each way is no problem unless you get snowed in and stuck on the highway all night. The absolute worst-case range I experienced in Boston winters was ~ 45miles in sub-zero weather with snowdrifts on the roads.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I would also consider a new old stock one. IIRC, the dealer in NJ had a handful of new 2015's still in stock. Depending on your tax situation, buying one of these, minus the credit, will be less cost than your lease payments - and you'll own the thing.
I will look into that as it is a compelling thought. I just like the updated look of the 453, I know, not practical.

I don't think I want to own one, don't want to be stuck with an aged electric car that is already a niche vehicle. The tech is changing so much I think in three to five years the current Smart will be more a curiosity than anything else.

Having said that, I've been looking at used Fiat 500e's. A few are close to me I just haven't contacted mt local dealer to see if they would service one as the Fiat EV is only sold in two west coast states that I'm aware of.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
No problem with good snow tires. Shameless plug: buy mine!

For the range, 10 miles each way is no problem unless you get snowed in and stuck on the highway all night. The absolute worst-case range I experienced in Boston winters was ~ 45miles in sub-zero weather with snowdrifts on the roads.
I'll keep that in mind if they are still available. Have to buy/lease car first.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Heated seats/heated steering wheel use much less energy than heating the whole cabin air. In the 451 I'd turn heat on for a few minutes until warm, then use heated seats to be more than comfortable. As for the driving aspect, electric cars are more fuel efficient in stop-and-go traffic than at highway speeds due to regenerative braking. If you can plug in at home after the commute each night, I don't think you'll have anything to worry about. Even the 451 could more than handle the commute you've described.

-Dan
I work from home so it's my wife who would be making that commute. She would not be happy if the cabin temp is compromised. Also, she doesn't think there is a charger at her office so very cold days it would sit outside after bringing her to work. This still concerns me.

To be fair we would still have an ICE car and my wife could always choose to drive that on bad winter days. It would just defeat the purpose of the Smart as the commuter car.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Driving in traffic is like a video game. Take a look at a small gap in traffic. Way big enough for the Smart. I can literally cut five minutes off my commute from just being able to get into the fastest lane, which changes several times during my 16 or so mile drive on the freeway. And all without overly annoying anyone.

We figure that over the 2000 miles we've driven it so far, we've probably saved $600 or more in fuel and (future) maintenance costs over our gasoline vehicles.
IA, I get the whole fun factor and fitting into tight spaces, I feel the same when I ride my motorcycle.

My Mazda has been a very inexpensive car to own. It's rock solid reliable, gets decent fuel mileage and was cheap to purchase new back in 09. I easily get 28-34 mpg, depending hwy or city and because I work from home I put about 1000 to 1500 miles on a year. Plus, a Mazda 3 is a hoot to drive. I don't know that I will see a marked savings by going to electric.

My wife's Audi is much more expensive to operate, if she can use the Smart for 50% or more of her commute then we may see savings.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Is the Smart smart enough to only draw electricity when it needs to? If you only use 20% of the battery in a day does it make sense to put it on the charger at night? What if you only use the car a few days a week, is it good practice to keep it on a charger when not in use? Will you waste electricity, higher utility bills? Really trying to wrap my head around the ownership experience of an electric car.
 

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IA, I get the whole fun factor and fitting into tight spaces, I feel the same when I ride my motorcycle.

My Mazda has been a very inexpensive car to own. It's rock solid reliable, gets decent fuel mileage and was cheap to purchase new back in 09. I easily get 28-34 mpg, depending hwy or city and because I work from home I put about 1000 to 1500 miles on a year. Plus, a Mazda 3 is a hoot to drive. I don't know that I will see a marked savings by going to electric.

My wife's Audi is much more expensive to operate, if she can use the Smart for 50% or more of her commute then we may see savings.
It's not just the "fuel" costs, it's also the maintenance. There's no oil changes, transmission fluid changes, engine air filters, tune-ups, coolant changes, and so on. For the 451 ED, it's basically a battery check every year and a $80 dessicant filter cartridge change every other year. We figure the savings per mile has to be around 30 cents, and more during the winters when the cold conditions are much tougher on a gasoline engine car than an electric one. But even if you think it is less, a $6000 cost outlay and 20 center per mile savings means 30k miles and you're even.

The highest mileage EDs are now nearing 100k miles, and they've shown little battery degradation. My wife and I are expecting our Smart to be our runabout for at least the next 10-15 years. We will each keep our existing ICE vehicle, but those will get driven more sparingly.

As far as your charging question goes, the recommendation is not to charge it unless the state of charge (SOC) goes below 80%. If I lived in a very cold climate, I'd probably put it on the charger just to warm things up before my departure no matter how full the battery already was. It seems that the battery management is very conservative, and the battery pack is well engineered, which is why you can do just about anything to the battery and it experiences a lot less degradation than most other electric cars. But all electric cars charge slower when the battery is nearing full, and will stop charging when it is full. So you don't have to worry about wasting electricity trying to charge something already full.

One last thing, about that fun-to-drive thing. Prior to our Smart, I had a first gen Miata that was my daily driver, and a C6 Corvette that has been modified for track use. Going from one to the other was always a treat, because driving one for a few days in a row made hopping into the other one almost like having a brand new car. While the Smart doesn't have the handling capabilities near that of my Miata, it has its own unique, quirky kind of nature that I find "fun" in ways more than just in how well it handles. Funny enough, I find myself driving the Corvette even less now than when I had my Miata, which is crazy because this year I've only driven the Corvette a total of 1800 miles, while the Smart that we've owned since June, has over 2000, the majority of that by me.
 
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