The FINANCIAL — smart is producer of one of the worldwide most economical and environmentally friendly cars: the smart fortwo. The brand takes advantages by using alternative technologies to develop even more ecologically friendly vehicles.
The smart fortwo electric drive demonstrates the pioneering role of the young car brand. As an electric car it is locally emission-free, highly efficient and quite. It represents sustainability at its highest level. The next generation prototype of the smart fortwo electric drive is being presented in the US for the first time during the NAIAS Autoshow. At the End of 2009, smart will start the production of the smart fortwo electric drive with a lithium-ion battery. The company is exploring opportunities for the United States market.
Lithium-ion battery technology
The smart fortwo electric drive series will be equipped with a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion technology has decisive advantages over other type of batteries, including its compact dimensions, high performance, shorter charging times an higher reliability.
London pilot project
In 2007, smart started a pilot project in London, England to test the smart fortwo electric drive vehicle. smart leased 100 electric smarts of the former series to gain real world experience and determine the technology’s long-term sustainability. The project has proven to be very successful with customers giving very encouraging feedback. In addition, the English authorities have rewarded smart’s commitment by exempting drivers of electric smart vehicle from the expensive London congestion charge.
London was selected as the perfect test city due to its high populations and infrastructure density, which has resulted in high traffic, parking shortages, severe noise and pollution. Participation in the project was first offered to companies that operate their own vehicle fleets and those who drive in inner city areas.
The majority of the customers approached smart to participate in the London project. Participants lease the electric smart for four years or 40,000 miles, and the project will officially run until 2012.
The company is using the test data and monitoring and evaluating many other different technologies to evolve the smart brand with new products as appropriate.
In addition to the London test program, smart is consistently working on the future development of electric drive technology. In September 2008, with the support of the German government and the state of Berlin, Daimler AG and the energy provider RWE introduced the “e-mobility Berlin” project. The two companies are jointly creating the conditions for zero emissions with battery electric drives, which is the world’s largest initiative in this field to date.
RWE is providing 500 electricity charging stations and Daimler is contribution 100 electric vehicles. Both companies aim to create an intelligent system, and the first joint tests are scheduled for the spring of 2009.
Additionally, an “on-board unit” is being developed that will communicate with charging stations to ensure that the battery is automatically charged with low-priced electricity when the network is not used to full capacity, for example at off-peak times.
Daimler AG is launching its next electric mobility project in cooperation with Enel, Italy’s largest energy supplier. In 2010, the “e-mobility Italy” initiative will see more than 100 electric cars of the smart and Mercedes-Benz brands roll onto the streets of Rome, Milan and Pisa. Enel will be responsible for developing and setting up over 400 charging stations especially for this purpose in the three cities. The project aims to further develop automotive technology and an intelligent infrastructure, and also establish open standards. Infrastructure is a particularly important issue in Italy, where the majority of vehicles are parked in city streets.
Evonik and Daimler establish strategic alliance for the development and production of lithium-ion batteries
Evonik Industries AG, Essen and Daimler AG, Stuttgart are developing the energy storage of the future. Based on lithium-ion technology from Evonik and with Daimler expertise, both groups will drive forward the research, development and production of battery cells and battery systems in Germany. In the near future, Li-Tec cells will appear in electric vehicles of smart and Mercedes-Benz Cars. This will represent an important milestone in the series production of electric vehicles. En route to achieving its technological leadership in recent years, Evonik has invested around 80 million Euros. The outcome is production-ready hi-tech battery cells that are superior to competitor products in several key areas.
On 15 December 2008, Daimler AG took over 49.9 percent of Li-Tec Vermögensverwaltung GmbH (Li-Tec). Evonik Industries AG already holds 50.1 percent. Both partners are seeking the involvement of a third shareholder in Li-Tec with expertise in electrical and electronic systems integration. Furthermore, the companies will also establish a joint venture with a clear focus on the development and production of batteries and battery systems for automotive applications. Daimler will hold 90 percent of this joint venture, and Evonik 10 percent.
The lithium-ion batteries produced by the joint venture will be used in both the passenger car and commercial vehicle sectors. The capacity available at Li-Tec and the joint venture will initially concentrate on the needs of Daimler AG. Beyond that, the sale of cells and battery systems to third parties is planned.