Smart has touted electric models in its lineup for years, but they've usually been secondary to the gas and diesel models. Now, however, the EVs have the spotlight to themselves. The Daimler badge has revealed the EQ Fortwo and EQ Forfour, both of which are not only designed from scratch as electric cars, but represent Smart's only vehicles. That makes Smart the first automaker to switch from gas engines to an all-electric roster, Daimler claimed. It's really more like the first brand to make the switch (let us know when Mercedes goes all-EV), but it's still a noteworthy change.
The cars themselves are still easily recognizable on the outside, although there's no doubt that they're designed for electric powerplants with fronts that are designed to cool electric motors. You'll notice more changes underneath. Neither the Fortwo nor the Forfour is a beast with a 41kW continuous output motor, an 81MPH top speed and a modest 0-62MPH time of 11.6 seconds (12.7 for the four-door). The range is healthy relative to the size of the cars, though. You'll get a peak 99 miles of range (95 for the Forfour). While that's based on the generous NEDC testing cycle, it's still a sizeable jump over the 57 miles you saw from the Fortwo Electric Drive. It's enough for the urban environments Smart calls home, and a charge from 10 percent to 80 percent takes 40 minutes without requiring a DC charger.
The interior may represent the most conspicuous change. The new models' infotainment systems revolve around your mobile devices -- the eight-inch touchscreen is really a host for whatever your phone is doing (the press shots clearly illustrate Apple CarPlay support). Given the fairly rudimentary in-car tech of Smarts past, that's likely a good thing. Smart's companion mobile app continues to offer services ranging from remote management to car sharing and parking, but there's now a streamlined interface and an Apple Watch app to put basic battery and climate control features on your wrist.
It'll be simpler to buy a Smart as well. You'll still have the usual base, Passion, Pulse and Prime models, but you now have just three equipment packages to choose from. The default Advanced package includes the phone tie-ins, while Premium throws in a rear-facing camera as well as a panoramic roof (or a draught stop on the Fortwo cabrio). Go with a Premium package and you'll get illumination upgrades that include full LED lighting as well as rain and light sensors.
Pricing isn't available at this stage. However, you can safely assume these cars won't be available in the US. Daimler conspicuously pulled the Smart brand from North America, in part because it wasn't a great fit. Microcars make more sense in dense European cities than sprawling North American highways, and the Forfour has never been available in the region. Even so, this shows that Daimler is serious about electrifying its vehicles, and hinting that it's really just a matter of time before its cars ditch combustion power.