To show how much fun a green car with zero emissions can be, Daimler AG's Smart microcar brand created the Forspeed study for an electric roadster. Set to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the concept has a range of 135km (84 miles) and is powered by a 30 kW electric motor fitted at the rear of the car.
There are currently no plans to produce the Forspeed but the concept offers an outlook on the brand's future design language. Smart boss Annette Winkler told Automotive News Europe that some design elements will be seen in series production models.
She added that the Forspeed strengthens the positioning of Smart as a “think tank for the electric mobility of the future.” The Forspeed, which has no roof or side windows, is made from lightweight glass fiber-reinforced plastic.
The Forspeed doesn’t have a windshield. Instead, it features a low wind deflector with integrated photovoltaic cells that provide solar power to the on-board electrical system. To protect against bad weather, the car's interior has a stretchable cover.
Also, the concept doesn’t have door handles. The doors can be opened with an interior grip. Gorden Wagener, head of design at Smart parent Mercedes-Benz, said that the Forspeed is a new interpretation of the former Smart brand slogan "reduce to the max."
Wagener said that the concept is "young, trendy, puristic, but beautiful" and it has modern features that make it similar to an "iPhone on wheels." Its interior takes inspiration from an aircraft cockpit with the driver and passenger seated in front of separate instrument clusters.
A smart phone is seen on the passenger side. This phone can be swiveled by up to 90 degrees in its holder toward the driver who can then view the navigation system display. The Forspeed can sprint from zero to 60kph in 5.5 seconds and it can reach a top speed of 120kph (75 mph).
The smart forspeed’s interior and exterior are designed as a formal vehicle, which is evident in several details. Its Tridion steel safety shell extends from the outside at the back of the roll-over bars to the cockpit at the front and forms the center tunnel that bears the load. The inner and outer door sections seamlessly join together to form a single part, similar to the floor and walls. The same shell design, which stands for purist sportiness, is used on the leather seats.
The wind deflector has an air inlet that ends in the center console’s central outlet and whenever needed, can supply fresh air to the interior. Both the interior and exterior are dominated by high-gloss white paint. The car is highlighted by green parts like the sporty 4-point driver and passenger seat belts and the large horizontal shelf beneath the cockpit that offers storage space. The control elements that a driver uses most often are covered in natural brown leather.
These include the steering wheel, door openers and the gear lever. In contrast, the tridion safety cell, curved trims on instrument hoods and other load-bearing components come in matte platinum silver. Steering wheel buttons, shift lever with gate and other functional elements come in silver shadow. The open 2-seater car has been designed on purpose with no outer door handle. An interior grip is used for opening the door.
The electric parking brake control is particularly easy to use with its simple yet functional design: the switch located on the center tunnel resembles the lever that is used to pull when the aircraft is about to land. A block that has ten LEDs is found at the center of the instrument panel. Once the forspeed is started, they shine through the paint and display the status of the battery charge. When switched off, only the outline of the charge indicator is seen.
The smart forspeed’s interior can be protected from different weather conditions like sunshine and rain, thanks to a tonneau cover. It just has to be stretched over the interiors and fastened to the body by means of straps. A division can be placed in the middle by adding a zipper so the driver’s seat can be free.
However, even if it has no weather protection, rainfall will not cause any serious problems. The floor of the vehicle has water drainage channels that make sure that the water is directed outside. The seat surfaces include water drainage channels as well and interior equipment comes with waterproof coating so that driving can be fun despite the weather.