2012 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Smart For-Us Concept

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 7, 2011

Although the 2012 Detroit Auto Show will open its doors in January, Daimler decided to reveal today the Smart For-Us Concept. According to the manufacturer the For-Us shows how an urban pickup should look like or a pickup of the 21st century urban traffic. With its exterior dimensions (length/width/height: 3547/1506/1701mm) the Smart For-Us Concept is powered by a 55 kW magneto-electric motor delivering 130 Newton metres of torque.

The For-Us has a maximum speed of 120 km/h, while the lithium-ion battery has capacity of 17.6 kWh. What is more interesting is that the tailboard at the rear of the smart for-us is electrically driven and when it opens first of all the cargo floor including tailboard retracts by 280 mm, then the tailgate slides down in a parallel position.

Smart Automobile has unveiled the smart for-us Concept to the global public at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, thereby challenging the usual definition of American automotive freedom. Automotive freedom in the United States has been defined by the "bigger is better" mentality. This is why the US automotive landscape has been dominated by larger vehicles, like pickup trucks.

However, the smart for-us Concept is being groomed as a counter to this mentality, especially with its small and agile nature and its pickup truck bed, as well as it zero-emission character. Measuring 3,547 mm in length, 1,506 mm in width and 1,701 mm in height, the smart for-us Concept is very small compared to a typical pickup. It rides on a wheelbase that is longer by 613 mm (at 2,480 mm) than its production sibling, with a track that is wider by 50 mm on each side.

Its elegantly compact character is furthered by its extremely short front and rear overhangs. However, the concept is intrinsically smart, thanks to an array of features as well as the visible tridion safety cell. As it is, the smart for-us Concept has a sassy and robust appearance.

In addition, the smart for-us Concept – both inside and outside – sports a number of enchanting details that should allow its occupants to cheerfully enjoy life. Compared with the smart fortwo production car, the smart for-us concept features a more dynamic visual statement, with an appearance that teases the aggressive image of conventional pickups.

Donning a friendly yet assertive front fascia, the smart for-us Concept is also laden with convex and sensuously shaped surfaces. Its 3D front end is marked by grille on which a large brand emblem is mounted. An underride guard completes the lower part of the front end.

The new smart for-us features a ride height that is around 50 mm higher than a standard smart, which makes it ideal for off-road driving. smart is eyeing to employ a 4x4 system to match the concept electric drive, with two front wheel hub motors. The smart for-us rides on three-spoke wheels which has wing nuts on the central mounts that could fold out and serve as a lever for releasing the wheel nuts.

These wheels are wrapped in Michelin off-road tires measuring 235/55 R 18. On the rear, the smart for-us Concept feature stunning rhombic front and tail lights that look similar to those on the smart forvision that shocked visitors at Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The indicators and daytime running lamps are illuminated by outer rings featuring several rod-shaped LED units. Rear lamps, meanwhile, seemingly push outwards like the drops on the cockpit window of an airplane.

Interestingly, users could open the tail lights for extra stowage space. On the other hand, the smart for-us concept features an electrically driven tailboard, which, along with the cargo floor, could be retracted through remote control or by touching the integrated touchpad. Once they are retracted, the tailgate slides down in a parallel position to allow easy access of cargo.

Press Release

Smart for-us Concept

America is the land of great automotive freedom, great landscapes, a love of outdoor activities and large pickups for thoroughly enjoying the "American dream". Now smart is countering the "bigger is better" mentality with a surprising new vehicle: the smart for-us Concept is small, agile and does not need any petrol thanks to its electric drive. This model, which builds on the smart forspeed and smart forvision concepts presented in 2011, celebrates its world premiere at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With its exterior dimensions (length/width/height: 3547/1506/1701 mm) it could almost go unnoticed on the loading area of a typical pickup, and it also anything but ordinary under the body.

smart CEO Dr. Annette Winkler says "We at smart love pick-ups - if they are small on the outside, large on the inside, very safe and extremely comfortable. With the smart for-us a petrol station is no longer required!"

smart is turning the automotive world upside down once again and challenging ideas about what an urban pickup should look like. In a tongue-in-cheek manner the for-us signals that this is the right car for the young and young-at-heart with active lives who attach importance to low emissions and taking up minimum road space. The smart for-us translates the practical loading concept of a pickup to the reality of 21st century urban traffic for the first time. Thanks to the state-of-the-art electric drive with a 55 kW magneto-electric motor the zero-emission smart for-us is agile and lively to drive.

Like car2go, the globally successful car sharing initiative from smart for more flexibility in city traffic, the smart for-us is a mobility concept. Just like the smart fortwo, which has enjoyed success around the world, it has ample room for two people, but it also has space behind for two smart ebikes, which can charge their batteries on the cargo area during the journey. From a trip into town to an outing to nearby nature reserve - the smart for-us safely transports two people and two electric bikes without producing any emissions. The ebikes on the cargo area become range extenders in two respects: thanks to the docking station on the cargo area of the smart for-us their batteries are always charged, and smart for-us drivers can also reach destinations that are out of bounds for cars - for example traffic-calmed zones in the city or isolated park trails.

The exterior: sassy and robust with extremely short overhangs

Even the first glance at the study shows that this smart can do more - yet it remains true to itself. It has a surprising, sassy and robust appearance - but thanks to the visible tridion safety cell and a number of other features it is typically smart. Furthermore, both the interior and the exterior feature a number of charming details which show that the smart designers devoted themselves to the project with the joie de vivre typical of the brand.

Compared with the series-produced fortwo the smart for-us makes a powerful statement and its appearance plays with the martial image of conventional mega-pickups. Nevertheless, it greets the viewer with a friendly yet assertive face. It features convex and sensuously shaped body surfaces. The large brand emblem is proudly sported on the grille, and the front has a pronounced three-dimensional design with an underride guard finishing off the lower part of the front end.

The for-us is raised by 50 millimetres as against the standard smart, and demonstrates that it is perfectly suited to off-road driving, for example to reach mountain bike terrain. In a later development stage the electric drive could be extended in the direction of a 4x4 with two front wheel hub motors.

The longer wheelbase (2480 mm/plus 613 mm) and the track that has been widened by 50 mm on each side also emphasise the robust look of the study. At the same time the extremely short overhangs at the front and rear make it exceedingly compact and provoke supporters of conventional pickups: small is beautiful - even as a pickup.

The smart for-us rolls on Michelin off-road tyres measuring 235/55 R 18. The wing nuts of the central mounts of the three-spoke wheels are an attractive detail: they fold out and then serve as a lever to release the wheel nuts.

The design of the rhombic front and tail lights is very striking and is reminiscent of the design of the smart forvision, which caused a stir at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The outer rings illuminate the indicators and daytime running lamps with a large number of rod-shaped LEDs. The lamps seem to push outwards like arrows - like drops on the cockpit window of an aeroplane as it takes off. The tail lights can even be opened and provide stowage space, for example for the charging cable or drinks cans for sporty bikers.

The tailboard at the rear of the smart for-us is electrically driven. Remote control or touching the integrated touchpad retracts the cargo floor including tailboard by 280 mm, and the tailgate then slides down in a parallel position. The cargo on the 900 mm cargo area is then extremely easy to access.

The high-gloss white metallic paintwork of the smart for-us with the tridion cell in a grey textured finish also builds a bridge to the smart forspeed presented at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, and to the smart ebike. On the other hand, the honeycomb structure of the air inlets takes up an aspect of the smart forvision, which attracted lots of attention at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The subtle colour accents in a warm yellow establish a further visual link to the interior.

The interior: stylish, uncomplicated and highly functional

Sleek, taut surfaces in mother-of-pearl white combined with precisely designed technical functional elements in brushed aluminium - the interior is characterised by contrasts. The white metallised leather establishes a link to the instrument panel, which in turn is related to the body. The headrests featuring metallic leather are a reference to the matt-finish textured paint of the tridion safety cell and - in line with the clean design - they largely dispense with seams. Yellow adds highlights to the interior, for example on the seat belts and seat covers. Leather door trim provides a further high-quality contrast.

Like in the smart forvision, the whole cockpit boasts aerodynamic styling for interior ventilation. The control and display elements are oriented to the driver. Just as the cockpit module divides the instrument panel, the two-spoke steering wheel is open at the top. In place of a conventional rear-view mirror the smart for-us features a smartphone accommodated in a holder on top of the instrument panel support. The driver can see what is happening on the road behind with the help of an integrated video camera.

Stylish, uncomplicated, highly functional and easy to individualise - the two seats in the concept car are typically smart. The seat shells, which are open in the middle, are covered with a soft fabric throw giving them a hammock-like seating feel. Practical: when the seat cover on the passenger side is removed long items can be loaded through the seat of the smart for-us.

The study has yellow seat covers with a deep embossed silver hexagon pattern indicating a progression and thus emphasising the vehicle's dynamism. As the covers can be removed in no time at all, simple individualisation with other throws is conceivable. The seats could even be used as avant-garde seating at home or when spontaneous seating is needed outdoors.

The cargo space has two slits for the front wheels of the smart ebikes. A special docking station in the middle enables the ebikes to be charged whilst being transported on the smart for-us. And bicycle tools or other items can be accommodated in the stowage compartments on the right and left of the load space.

Electric drive: zero-local-emission driving fun

The electric drive of the smart for-us is based on the innovative drive concept of the smart fortwo electric drive, which will be launched from the spring of 2012.

Thanks to the 55 kW magneto-electric motor the smart for-us is agile and lively to drive. With 130 Newton metres of torque it boasts powerful, lag-free acceleration and it can overtake other vehicles with the greatest of ease. The maximum speed exceeds 120 km/h.

The lithium-ion battery has capacity of 17.6 kWh. When completely empty it takes a maximum of eight hours to fully charge the battery at a household socket or charging station on the electricity systems of most countries i.e. overnight.

smart ebike: urban electric mobility on two wheels

There are two smart ebikes on board the smart for-us - perfect for local-emission-free city driving. The colour of the two ebikes, which are based on the production bike to be launched by smart in the spring of 2012, has been matched to the smart for-us. Some of the components, for example the battery housing, therefore come in the highlight colour yellow.

With an unconventional design in line with the style of the brand, functions appropriate for city use and high technology standards that are demonstrated by the extremely efficient and high-performance drive package among other features, the smart ebike has an exceptional position.

High-quality components guarantee dynamic, safe and fun cycling. For example, MT4 disc brakes from Magura are fitted at the front and rear. The smart ebike also features state-of-the-art infotainment: a USB interface is a standard feature and enables various mobile end devices to be connected.

smart's high technological standards are manifested in the extremely efficient and high-performance drive package. As a "pedelec" (Pedal Electric Cycle) the smart ebike is strictly speaking a hybrid: the electric motor - a maintenance-free and brushless rear-wheel hub motor from BionX - switches on as soon as the rider starts pedalling as with a normal bicycle. Muscle power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a durable and quiet belt drive. An integrated three-speed gear hub provides for simple gear changing.

The strengths of the ebike include its agile performance: the rider of the smart ebike decides how much power he wants the 250 watt electric motor to deliver to support his muscle power by pressing a button on the handlebar. There is a choice of four power levels with the fourth and highest level providing maximum pushing power. Depending on the power level selected and the manner of cycling a battery charge can last for more than 100 kilometres.

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