Freed From Gasoline, the 2017 Smart Fortwo Drops Its Price and Adds Range

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Will anyone notice? Mercedes-Benz certainly hopes so, as it recently choose to ditch gasoline powerplants altogether and make the Smart sub-brand an all-electric affair.

The automaker announced pricing and specifications for its 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive coupe and convertible today, billing the two-seater as one of the cheapest EVs you can buy. The droptop variant remains the only electric convertible you can get your hands on, should that be your thing.

While many scratch their heads and wonder why Smart continues to exist in North America, the automaker hopes to entice consumers with a lower starting price and added range.

Starting at $24,550 (including delivery) for the hardtop, the Fortwo Electric Drive offers more grunt than the previous model — 80 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque — for $1,200 less. Range has increased from a disappointing 68 miles to somewhere between 70 and 80 miles in regular driving — hardly the longest-legged athlete on the field. Still, with so small a profile, engineers have limited room in which to cram battery cells.

Trim levels include Pure, Passion and Prime — you’ll see those words written in lower case in the brochures — with the base trim not available on the convertible. The droptop keeps its 2016 after-delivery sticker of $28,750.

For 2017, the Electric Drive twosome adds features like cruise control and a battery warranty, with an available Climate Package for northern buyers. That package includes heated seats and steering wheel, as well as added insulation.

The automaker boasts of improved charging times at 240-volt outlets. An 80-percent charge should now take 2.5 hours instead of the previous 4.5 hours — a helpful update considering the still-limited range.

While Mercedes-Benz touts the model as “one of the most affordable electric cars on the market,” the lure of a backseat looms large, as does greater range. This is a city car, no doubt, but for not much more you could get into a Nissan Leaf S or Ford Focus Electric. For less money, the Leaf remains one of the fastest-depreciating vehicles on the used market.

With an after-delivery sticker of $31,545, a 2017 Leaf S shaves off another $7,500 from its federal tax credit, bringing the price to $24,045. Currently, Nissan offers $4,000 cash back on the model, bringing its purchase price to just above $20,000. The Focus Electric’s $29,995 after-delivery MSRP falls to $18,245 after the tax credit and all available incentives (up to $11,750 of them!).

Each of those four-door models offers five-passenger room, considerable cargo room, and a three-figure driving range (though just barely). Still, at $17,050 after tax credit, the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive does undercut those deals.

(Mitsubishi’s 2017 i-MiEV, which remains on the automaker’s Canadian sales site, has disappeared from the U.S. site. With six i-MiEVs sold in the U.S. in 2017, we’re going to count it out of the comparison. Mercedes-Benz might not.)

Smart remains an extremely niche badge in the U.S., though gasoline models, which will disappear this fall, have sold in the 300-unit range each month this year. In comparison, only 53 previous-generation Fortwo Electric Drives were sold between the beginning of the year and the end of April. A good number of new buyers will need to take note of the 2017 model’s changes for Smart to retain its already tiny customer base.

The 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive should appear for sale this summer.

[Images: Mercedes-Benz USA]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Brettc Brettc on May 23, 2017

    They actually added on to the local Mercedes dealer a couple years ago to do a separate Smart show room. I was wondering WTF they were thinking. I guess they thought Smart would take off for the hipsters in Portland or something. I see a lot more Sprinter reefers on their lot than Smarts...

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on May 24, 2017

    "adds features like cruise control". The range of the electric Smart would preclude ever having to use it, I think.

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
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