Search This Blog

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Body Electric

Yesterday I drove into the smart car dealership in Somerville for two reasons. One, it’s time for Bix’s annual checkup and oil change. Yes, the oil is changed just once a year in a smart car. Cool or what? TwoTodd Whitelaw, the fab-ola brand manager, emailed me with a tremendous offer.

Trade in my, now, two year old Bix (which I’ll fully own once the loan’s paid) for a lease on a 2015 electric. On top of the obvious bennies of owning an electric baby, he's offering fab incentives. I'm now in the midst of considering all the pros and cons and OOF this is gonna be a hard decision!

1) Though this car is a much more expensive model, my monthly payment would go down by more than $25 dollars.
2) No gas required. Currently I pay $35-$40 a month to feed Bix. With an electric, I’d spend, estimated, $18-$20 per month MAX to charge the battery.
3) No emissions! I won’t be contributing to the environment’s degradation—at least not when I motor about.
4) Electric cars are low maintenance.
5) They’re quiet, not that this is a big deal to this deafie but, em, quiet….that’s nice.
6) The electric ride’s smoother with much faster response time.
1) Range—Depending on weather conditions the smart electric goes just 55-85 miles on a full charge. Bix can go around 380 to 400 miles on one tank.
2) Recharge Points—I can charge up at home and there are parking lots about town with EV (electric vehicle) chargers BUT they’re not wickedly common YET. Just as I have to watch the gas gauge, I’d need to watch the charge gauge but I’d have to be a LOT more aware and observant than with gas.

Also, to charge a smart, according to (and this is based on the 2013 model), from totally empty to full would be about 14 hours at 110 volt household outlet and 6 hours at a 240 volt level two charging station.
Weather, unsurprisingly, effects the battery.
How does cold weather affect the performance and battery life?

The short answer is: cold weather can affect your electric drive’s range. Most lithium-ion batteries are affected by cold temperatures, and it may take longer to charge your smart in extreme cold. Super hot temperatures can also affect your smart’s battery. Additionally, anytime you run the heat or A/C, you’re using the battery more. So if we may be so bold as to offer some advice: whenever possible, keep your smart stored inside in a temperate climate so that things stay nice and charged.
So, if I’m driving out to see Helen in Hoosick Falls, which is approximately 190 miles away, I’d need to stop and recharge 3.8 times in cold, snowy January and 2.375 times in gorgeous, sunny May. Even with the best of weather conditions and the availability of public charging stations along the way, I couldn’t make the trip in one day. I’d need to rent a car.

The Amazing Bob and I could tool down to see The Green Miles and fam in Fairhaven on one charge (around 56 miles away) BUT we’d not be able to get back home same day. Again, we’d have to rent.


I found a great site—Chargepoint—which tells me where I can fuel up AND, in real-time, how many, if any, available stations they have.

The other expensive drawback, beyond having to rent cars when we want to go see the kids, is that our insurance would go up since the 2015 electric smart is a much more expensive car than my Bix.

I’m doing the math. I’m thinking hard on this. I really want to go electric but, given the short range on a charge and that we’re a one car famiglia, it might not make sense. YET. More research and contemplation is needed.


  1. Interesting idea, Donna, I can see your dilemma. From what I've heard around here, the idea is to tote around an extra charged-up battery in the trunk for long distance driving. But I don't know what an extra battery costs and it still wouldn't be enough if you needed to recharge over 2 times en route to Hoosick Falls. It's a shame the batteries aren't higher capacity somehow and they take so long to recharge. Gee, all they need to do is fix these minor glitches and we'd all be set to go, ha, ha :) We're thinking of getting rid of our car actually since it costs more than its worth and we don't use it too much in town (and we rent one for long distance). Now in Berlin there are five different quick rent-a-car companies that make the occasional need for a car (like for heavy shopping) no biggie. Costs vary and are hard to compare but they often include gas and you can check where they're parked on an App. Very handy. But this option works only in a city, really.

  2. Do you have ZipCar or something like that in Berlin? They're all over the place here. If we still lived in the city, I'd go that route.
    I expect the electric smarts will have a longer range in another few years. As it is, they seem pretty popular.