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Daimler AG to Test New Electric Car Fleet in US

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On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 12:06PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Daimler AG to Test New Electric Car Fleet in US

Daimler AG – the gargantuan German automaker – is looking to go ‘green’ this year with the announcement of the launch of their newest electric vehicle innovation: Smart USA. The manufacturer of these newer mini electric cars is owned by Daimler, and is being spurred forwards by the company in attempts to capture potential US holdings of the ever-growing and expanding consumer demand for efficient and green electric cars in the US. Similar to the late 90s, when GM released the first electric car in the US, dubbed the EV1 (or Electrical Vehicle One), these newer Smart Cars will only be available for leases to businesses, as the company does not plan on selling them at dealerships right away.

The Wall Street Journal report really offers some perspective on what the German carmaker is hoping to accomplish by leasing these new test fleets in the US. “Smart will lease a fleet of 250 electric cars to businesses, organizations and select people, in Portland, Ore.; San Jose, Calif.; Indianapolis; Orlando, Fla.; and the Washington, D.C.-Boston corridor. A similar effort was started last year in Europe and will spread to Asia next year for a total test fleet of 1,500, Smart said in a statement.”

As to the range and efficiency, as well as the leasing terms, of these newer electric cars by Daimler, the Wall Street Journal report said that, “The car would be leased for four years at $599 a month and would be under warranty during the full period. It would have a projected range of 82 miles and would be limited to 62.5 miles per hour.”

The move by Daimler to start making electric cars in the US is tantamount to growing competition in all sectors with rival automakers, according to the Wall Street Journal report. “Smart also is joining a growing group of auto makers betting on electric vehicles. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is the most ambitious, with plans to sell as many as 150,000 electric cars in the U.S. in 2013, but Toyota Motor Corp. , General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC all have announced electric cars due out in the next few years.”

The president of Smart USA, Jill Lajdziak, stated in an interview with the newspaper that, “Certainly, for growth of the brand, this is a milestone. The mere perception in the marketplace of Smart is of an environmentally friendly vehicle.”

As far as the features and specs of this newer line of electric cars that are being manufactured by Daimler for leasing in the US, the Wall Street Journal report offers the entire scope as to just what these cars have to offer drivers.

“The Smart fortwo—the smallest car sold in the U.S.—is a two-seat car that is 8 feet long. The Smart electric will carry a 16.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack produced by Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car maker in which Daimler has a minority stake. The pack is less than half the size of the Mini E's battery pack, but the Smart also weighs about 1,000 pounds less. Daimler is already working on a next generation battery pack developed with Evonik Industries AG.”

The company plans on selling the cars to consumers in the US sometime in 2012. But for the time being, the cars can only be leased by businesses for the short term. It seems that now the electrical car fever – which is a really good thing – is finally taking full force, as more automakers strive to create better and more efficient electric cars that can ultimately free the world of its dependency on fossil fuels and combustion engines.

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