By Samuel Ee
You may not know the driver of that electric car beside you but you can safely assume that he or she has at least two things on his or her mind - climate change and battery life.
Driving an electric car reflects a conscious decision to go green by eliminating tailpipe emissions. But reducing your carbon footprint this way also means you will experience something called 'range anxiety'.
Range anxiety refers to the fear of a flat battery, and is induced by the fact that there is no island-wide charging infrastructure for the current range of electric vehicles (EVs) with a recommended range of under 200 km.
For now, EVs are mainly for testbedding purposes and only companies are allowed to participate in this government-led project. A few EV models are available, with two being the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive and Renault Fluence ZE.
While the Renault has four doors and is for sale, the diminutive two-seater Smart ED can only be leased.
The Smart is made by Daimler, the same company which owns the Mercedes-Benz luxury brand. It has a small electric motor fitted in the rear and when its lithium-ion battery is fully charged, it is said to be good for about 135 km.
But in Singapore, that is closer to about 100 km because of the extra load from the air-con system. With 120 Nm of torque to propel the 1,120 kg car, acceleration from stationary is brisk with no shifting required thanks to the single fixed gear ratio. But it can be a bit tough hitting 80 kmh even if the top speed is rated at 100 kmh. And because the Smart is small and slow, don't expect any respect from other road users.
|Smart ForTwo ED
|Electric motor output:
Lease: $1,400 per month (without GST)
Constant: 20kW (27bhp)
Peak (2 minutes): 30kW (41bhp)
Max Torque: 120Nm
Top speed: 100kmh
Distributor: Daimler South-east Asia
Tel: 6849 8000
As expected, the cabin is small but not uncomfortable. There is no space for a centre armrest or tray but the dashboard shelf is surprisingly useful. The spartan interior includes two round standalone gauges for the battery charge and power consumption.
One surprise is that the cabin isn't that quiet, with the whirring motor heard more clearly from the Smart's interior than from the outside.
Under the lease conditions, there is a $180 monthly fee for all electricity and associated services provided for by Robert Bosch, the appointed EV infrastructure provider for the testbedding project.