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Frankfurt show: Futuristic Smart Vision EQ revealed

Get Smart: The Smart Vision EQ concept can collect car-sharing users from their chosen location, rather than the user having to search for the car.

Smart details future with EV, car-sharing, autonomous Vision EQ ForTwo concept


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31 Aug 2017

SMART has uncovered its vision of future mobility – the all-electric Vision EQ ForTwo concept – that can drive itself to a charging station to recharge after it has collected and dropped off ride-sharing users.

According to the Daimler-owned brand, the tiny concept, previewed by a teaser image earlier this week, provides “a new vision of urban mobility and individualised, highly flexible, totally efficient local public transport”.

The fully electric two-seater, revealed ahead of its Frankfurt motor show debut next month, has an advanced autonomous driving system and it is being pitched as the future of car sharing, rather than a personal vehicle.

Smart says that a car2go vehicle – the Daimler-owned car-sharing company – is hired somewhere in the world every 1.4 seconds, with studies showing that the number of people using car-sharing schemes globally will have quintupled by 2025 to 36.7 million.

Smart CEO Annette Winkler said the concept highlights the German car-maker’s push to develop future mobility solutions.

“The Smart Vision EQ ForTwo is our vision of future urban mobility it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric,” she said.

“With the Smart Vision EQ ForTwo, we are giving a face to the themes with which Mercedes-Benz Cars describes the vision of future mobility within the CASE strategy.”

Benz’s CASE corporate strategy stands for the “strategic pillars” of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared and Services) and electric drive systems (Electric).

The concept falls under Daimler’s recently announced EQ electric sub-brand that will be responsible for the rollout of more than 10 new production EVs by 2022, ranging from a Smart EV to a large Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Smart first offered an electric car back in 2007 with the Smart Electric Drive, and continues to offer an EV version of all of its models in Europe, including the ForTwo and ForFour.

The concept uses a 30kWh lithium-ion battery and thanks to its autonomous drive system, can drive itself to a charging station to charge up. Smart says it can also inductively dock with the power grid and feed in electricity, acting as a “swarm battery” to help take the pressure off the grid.

It also ushers in a new type of autonomous car, according to Smart, with the Vision EQ ForTwo able to find a user and collect them from their chosen location, rather than a user having to look for the next available car.

The car-sharing Smart EQ is summoned using a smartphone and the black panel on the front of the car can display customisable words and sentences to help users identify the correct share car.

Smart says the LED displays in place of headlights can take on an eye-like shape, allowing the vehicle “to communicate on a more human level”. At the rear the tail-lights can communicate information to other road users relating to traffic or other warnings.

The doors are covered with a film that can display information about various things such as the weather or local events, when the car is unoccupied. The doors also pivot wing-like over the rear axle, which aids entry and egress according to Smart.

It measures 2699mm long, 1720mm wide and 1535mm high and inside does away with the steering wheel, pedals and other conventional controls. Instead it is controlled via voice recognition or by using a mobile device.

The dash is replaced by a 24-inch screen surrounded by a rose gold-coloured frame while other four-inch displays located in the cabin show welcome messages.

Two passengers can fit on the lounge-style bench seat which is fashioned from man-made leather.

Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific (MBAP) senior manager of public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy told GoAuto that the company was not looking to reintroduce the Smart brand, which was put on hold in Australia in 2015, but he did not rule it out down the track.

“We don’t have any plans (to bring Smart back to Australia), we do reassess for each year, (but there’s) nothing current,” he said.

Mr McCarthy added that MBAP has ongoing discussions about the potential for offering a ride-sharing, autonomous electric vehicle in Australia, but the business case would have to stack up and the lack of government subsidies for EVs hampers that.

“If there was a subsidy for electric vehicles, that would certainly make the case a lot easier, and at the end of the day you’ve got to sell sufficient volume to justify doing it,” he said.

MBAP killed off the Smart brand in 2015 after a 12-year stint Down Under because of concerns about cost in the light car segment.

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