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Smart ed Preview

The Smart ed is hardly the last word in comfort. Unless I was being particularly unobservant, a radio is the only mod con provided. I can only hope that in production electric cars, Smart can fix it so that accelerating at anything more than a crawl doesn't cause the radio to stutter for a moment. Even when it does remain powered on, it's an almost annoyingly basic affair.

Given the prototype nature of the ed I'm willing to give Smart the benefit of the doubt and assume that production vehicles won't be as sparse, but with power at a premium in an electric vehicle, don't expect anything as exciting as air conditioning or a built-in sat-nav. Not that in a car designed purely for commuting short distanced such extravagances are entirely necessary anyway.

Smart won't talk pricing for the ed yet, which is hardly surprising as it isn't going to be made available to the public for a while yet and Smart doesn't really know what its production costs will be as every Smart ed made so far has been pretty much hand built. Furthermore, Smart is keen to point out that with an electric car you're partly buying your fuel up front - thanks to the added cost of the batteries - so a direct comparison to its fuelled cars isn't really fair.

With the government set to invest £250m into promoting low-carbon transport in 2012, buyers of the Smart ed are hardly likely to be paying a premium for the privilege, with subsidies of up to £3k on a new car suggested. Then there's road tax exemption, likely cheap insurance and, as Smart is always keen to point out, the ability to fit two Fortwos in one 'normal' parking space.

I didn't expect to be impressed by the Smart ed, if I'm entirely honest, but having spent some time with the car I'm pretty much sold. Okay, so I won't buy one myself, but I wouldn't actively dissuade anyone from doing so and that's a first for a Smart car.

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