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Hi everyone! To give some background, I'm 17 and currently on a permit but will get my license in October. I'm starting college in the fall and since I decided to stay close to home it's only 3 miles away, I live in an urban area of NJ about 10 miles from NYC.

I'm strongly considering buying a used 2015 Smart Fortwo Electric as my first car, I've seen them run about 5K with low mileage and I would only be using it for my short commute and getting around nearby areas. My parents have a larger car that I would be able to borrow in case I have the occasional long trip but apart from that, I see the Smart as a very efficient option. I know it has a limited range but I'm thinking I can charge it overnight at home, plus my town and university have accessible EV charging stations.

I'm very big on staying green so I definitely want an electric (I realize it has its setbacks), and from what I've researched the Smart has very low upkeep. I have to pay for everything myself which is why I also need a low-cost option (this way I can sneak those charging costs into my parents' electricity bill lmao).

Anyone have any experience owning a Smart, suggestions on similar vehicles, or reasons why this might be a horrible idea?

Of course, I've looked at other EVs but the Smart seems the most practical by far. I'm no expert at all so any advice (positive or negative!) is welcome :)
 

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My advice would be to do a little more research on the Smart brand. Mercedes has abandoned the Smart brand and getting anyone to work on your car is going to be very difficult. The main battery is super expensive and hard to find. My opinion is if you absolutely have to go electric I would go Prius. I would hate to see a 17 year old get burned on their first car. There is a reason the price on these cars is so cheap.
 

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Welcome to the board Daniel!

I purchased a Smart ED just last Thursday and It's the funnest to drive car I've ever had. It's my third smart and my favorite of all of them. I work 4.5 miles from home and will only have to charge up once a week. I suspect it would be a good fit for your needs. Perfect car for a road test. I would recommend it with the following caveats.

1. Get one that is still covered (at least a little) by the manufacturer warranty.

2. Make sure your local dealer is still going to be working on electric smarts. As you're from the NJ/NY area you should be OK. The dealer I purchased mine from says they will be servicing electrics for a minimum of another 4 years so as to cover the new smarts that are still under warranty.

3. Get one with paddle shifters. Best innovation ever.
 

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I've got two of them and absolutely love them. If the car is being sold by a dealer, ask them to run a battery test and give you a copy of it. If not, maybe someone close by on the forum who has one of our units can run the test for you for a little peace of mind. If not, I'd not be too concerned, especially if you've still got a little warranty left as mentioned above. Maintenance is minimal as you have said. I say go for it, but only after doing your due diligence on the car's history if you can determine that. Got a friend at the Mercedes dealer? With the VIN they can print out a VMI (Vehicle Maintenance Inquiry) for you that will tell you all the times the car was in for service at any Mercedes dealer. Carfax may be helpful too.

Good luck and let us know what you end up doing.

Len
2014 EV Coupe 17,500 miles
2014 EV Cabriolet 11,500 miles
 

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Just wondering if a six mile round trip might be more economical using public transportation in your area. Insurance at your age will be high, parking is always an issue and may be expensive on school property, etc. Just my .02. :)
 

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MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
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Welcome to SCoA.

ALWAYS ask how many keys???

If there is only one, discount your offer to purchase by the cost ($YMMV) and inconvenience of having a new one made.
 

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Here are a few tips:

1. There is a separate Smart Electric Forum here with lots of useful information:

https://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f170/

Make sure you go there before buying. in particular, there is a wiring abrasion issue on the 451 ED that can be serious, but is very easy to fix - go the end of this post:

https://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f170/brake-wiring-harness-chafing-151488/index3.html

2. Make sure you test drive the car and verify the health of the 12 volt accessory battery (behind the passenger side footrest area). There have been (admittedly sparse) reports of EDs stored for several months with a dead 12V battery having their main packs over-discharged and bricked (effectively a writeoff) by some as-yet-unknown mechanism.

You should also scan the car for trouble codes (DTC's). Unfortunately, for the earlier-model (451) ED, the only relatively cheap DTC scanners for MB products can only scan the chassis electronics, not the electric drivetrain or battery pack. To check the health of the battery pack, it can be scanned with an open-source gadget being built by one of our forum members - go here:

https://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f170/battery-test-units-available-152680/

I can loan you mine - but when you are done, I want it back! PM me.

3. This may seem counter-intuitive, but a properly running model with 25-35k miles is probably going to be less likely to cause trouble than a model with less than 10K miles. The ED is reliant on a lot of digital electronics (but almost no moving parts - you can count them on two hands - and that includes the wheels!) and such electronics tend to have burn-in or shakedown period where if any defective component is going to fail, it does so early in the components life - after that, a failure is unlikely. The battery pack itself degrades only very slowly - a percent a year at most.

4. In an area like yours, the MB dealerships that formerly sold Smart ED's will continue to service them - but it isn't cheap.
 

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I’d buy a smart ICE version, for your first car. Plenty of places, to get service at. Easy to maintain. I gave my daughter, a smart car. For her first college vehicle. Cheap to buy, good fuel economy. Served her well for 4 years. Since smart going belly up her. Service for a EV might be a issues.
 

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I suspect that this young person is specifically looking for a subcompact electric vehicle for reasons that we aren't allowed to discuss here (but have in the past). The only kind of Smart that I was interested in when I bought mine was an electric version.
 

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I think it would be a perfect car for your first car. I own a 2015 ED and it has to be the funnest car to drive!
I commute 30 miles a day every day and it cost pennies on my electric bill.
I say if you find a decent one under $6K go for it.
 

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I’ve got a gas and an electric smart (as well as plug-in Prius) and still tend to use my electric smart for 90% of my driving needs. It is cheap to charge (even on an occasional level 2 pay-to-charge station) and super easy to park. I’d say check your insurance premiums for a smart and go from there. For me it was a great entry vehicle into EV life at a sub-$5k price point. I’m sure I could have found a used older leaf at that price as well, but heard stories about the battery degradation and I found it odd to be air cooled as opposed to the smart’s liquid cooled system. (Which our Prius is also air cooled and I hate that about it.)


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https://www.smartcarcity.com/inventory.aspx?mk=Smart&md=fortwo%20electric%20drive&sold=0&ordby=year&pordby=year&cursort=desc&curpage=1

Being right in the area you should be able to find a suitable car with this of lease dealer. Decent honest people. I bought my 2014 gas Passion from here.

I assumed you are leaning towards the 453 model, the White 2016 451 with the Brabus wheels is in your price range and is Sporty already. when having mine serviced under warranty, I was told that there was a standard 4 year warranty and an optional 6 year warranty. Mine was originally purchased with the 4 year warranty which was transferred to Me. The Mercedes service department said I could have purchased the additional 2 years as long as I did it before the end of the 4 year warranty. At the time I was confident that I cold repair most things that should need repair with in that 2 year period and did not buy the additional 2 years. Check on that warranty option as it made give you more assurance in you purchase. Then be patient and get the right deal for you. Boy do I Love My Smart.
 

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I understand that Smart, after evading the regulation with the 451 by claiming that the electric drive syatem was not an "emissions control" did adopt the EPA-mandated 8-year 80k battery warranty for the 453. Unfortunately, it was not grandfathered into the older model.
 

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I understand that Smart, after evading the regulation with the 451 by claiming that the electric drive syatem was not an "emissions control" did adopt the EPA-mandated 8-year 80k battery warranty for the 453. Unfortunately, it was not grandfathered into the older model.
Hopefully no one will need to have an eight year warranty on a 451 battery. I sure hope I don't. However, I wonder if a god attorney might take the case and take Smart to court.

Len
2014 EV Coupe 17,500 miles
2014 EV Cabriolet 11,500 miles
 

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Depending on the age of the car, the price of a good attorney could exceed the value of the car pretty quickly.
Just saying.
Very true, but one of those ambulance chasers who advertise on TV may want to make a name for himself and Mercedes may just want to avoid the publicity.

Len
2014 EV Coupe 17,500 miles
2014 EV Cabriolet 11,500 miles
 

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ED No Battery

I have a chance to buy a 2013 ED. However the dealer let the 12 volt battery go dead and did not charge the battery for 6 months. And now the main battery pack will not charge.
 

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MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
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I have a chance to buy a 2013 ED. However the dealer let the 12 volt battery go dead and did not charge the battery for 6 months. And now the main battery pack will not charge.
Do you play the Lottery? Don’t see a “question” in your post BUT, unless it is able to move under it’s own power you are taking a “chance.”

Dealer or PP?
 

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There is a very slim chance that "dead" battery might still be under warranty. With the VIN a dealer could tell you. Maybe the car has an extended warranty or maybe it still has some of the four year factory warranty remaining? My 2014 cabriolet was sitting on a dealer lot for over two years. Its initial in-service date was May, 2017, so I still have two years of factory warranty left on it.

But I totally agree with MB DNA's post above. Do not buy that car until you are sure it is sorted out.

Len
2014 EV Coupe 17,500 miles
2014 EV Cabriolet 11,500 miles
 

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I have a chance to buy a 2013 ED. However the dealer let the 12 volt battery go dead and did not charge the battery for 6 months. And now the main battery pack will not charge.
So this is another case to put in the study.

What we need a lawyer for is a class-action lawsuit to make the victims of this defect - that MB's certainly know about - whole and fix the defect (probably just a firmware update) for the rest of us.

But for now, only buy an ED that is actually running, don't let the 12V battery go dead (run a pair of charging wires from the battery to the service flap area so you can charge a dead battery with the car doors locked) and if it does go dead, don't leave it dead for more than a few days!
 
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