As part of a campaign to improve the image of Minicar maker Smart among its urban clientele, a 250-unit test fleet of electric cars will be launched in several US cities this year.
The cars will be leased in the following cities: Portland, Oregon; San Jose, California; Orlando, Florida; Indianapolis, Indiana; Washington D.C. and Massachusetts east-coast corridor of Interstate 95.
Smart USA, which distributes cars made by Daimler AG, began production on the second-generation electric ForTwo minicar at its Hambach, France plant last November. The 95% recyclable car features a 16.5 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery made by Tesla Motors Inc.
In an interview in New York, Jill Lajdziak, president of Smart USA, said that the the brand's core is about sustainability and that the goal is to be highly successful in urban markets. Fleet tests are being conducted on the car in European cities, including Berlin and London. The vehicle for the US is slated to arrive in October.
Derek Kaufman, vice president of Smart USA, said that the electric car will start selling to the public in early 2012. European countries will get it first and the US will follow.
At a media briefing last Wednesday, Smart USA officials said that it will lease 80% of the Smart ForTwo electric cars to companies, while 20% are intended for individuals.
During the signing of the lease, a $2,500 amount will be paid, after which, the cars would be leased for four years at $599 a month. The car will be under warranty for the entire four-year period.