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Author Topic: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend  (Read 251 times)

Offline Dan

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The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« on: September 12, 2017, 07:08:24 AM »
So I've been trying to sell my 2012 Ninja all summer long and had a few tire kickers and one serious offer but that was it.  I thought I may have to sell it for next to nothing to make room for my car in the garage this winter.  Turns out I no longer need to worry about space in the garage.  Say hello to my little friend...



A 2017 all electric drive Smart Car










Everything now fits in the garage!





About the same size as the Ninja, lengthwise anyway.


I know it's not a bike but it allows me to keep two bikes in the garage... maybe three if I plan the space a little better.  It's kinda strange driving an electric car and getting used to it's peculiarities but it's been fun so far.  Far roomier on the interior than it looks, matter of fact if you were sitting in the car you would have no idea that it is so small unless you looked behind you and saw the rear window.


We still have a gas powered car for long trips so this is a nice addition for us and it works great fitting into tiny parking spaces in the congested greater Boston area.


Offline DesignFlaw06

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 11:01:41 AM »
Having just spent a few days in Boston, I get the appeal of having a small car.  I'm told these are roomier than they look, but haven't actually sat in one.  What's the range on it? 

I could get away with one now I think.  I won't, but I could.  My commute used to be 100+ miles a day, making electric appealing but nearly impossible.  The irony is my commute is only 7 miles round trip now, so electric is more practical but it has less appeal since a tank of gas lasts weeks instead of 3-4 days.

One day I'd like to drive a SMART car just to see what it is like.  I imagine you have to have the same mindset as riding a motorcycle where you are not seen by other drivers very well.  Congrats on the new purchase.


Offline Dan

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 12:48:51 PM »
With any electric car an in particular the Smart car you have to rethink how you drive.  Not a lot but a little, in particular the planning.  Not so much the range, which is limiting but the fact that it will take hours to recharge the battery.  The Smart car is billed as a city car so it's range is rather anemic with an average of 80 miles, we have been getting a little more.  Reported max range is about 100 miles.  In winter the range will most likely drop to 60 miles once you start running the heater and the cold starts to sap the battery.  That's more than okay for us as I work from home and Serena's commute is about twenty miles round trip.  We can top it off at night or every other night and possibly every third night and be okay.


There are much better electric cars available right now and with tax incentives and rebates it may be cheaper than a traditional car.  If I wanted a more normal car I would have purchased a Chevy Bolt, it has a range of 240 miles, seats five and is quite nicely finished.  While it's a $40k car in Massachusetts you can get a Federal tax credit of $7500, state rebate of $2500 and we have a local dealer taking $6500 off list, no haggling making the final price in the low $20k's.  Still spendy sure but it's a great little car with fantastic range.


Smart cars are tough to get now, Mercedes who owns Smart sells electric only now and cut the dealerships to large cities only for obvious reasons.


Yes, the 453 model which is the most current model and the one that Serena and I purchased is very roomy inside.  I guarantee even a guy of your height would not feel cramped inside, it's bigger inside than a lot of traditional cars.  It's a great second car and cheap to own and run.

Offline hppants

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 03:55:40 PM »
The hood space is next to nothing.  Leaves much more room inside, I imagine.

Are those vehicles crash tested, and if so, how do they fare compared to a comparable sized petro vehicle?

What about insurance cost, again comparably speaking?

Did you have to make any modifications to your home electrical in order to house the charger?  If you wanted to take a short over night trip, is there a portable charger you can bring?  Or does it always carry the charger with it?

Finally, how many kilowatts of electricity does it take to charge the batteries fully from dead?  IOW - what is the effective fuel cost for your 80-100 miles of range?

I like the green - it looks like a fun car to drive.  I was never in the market for an electric car, but unlike MA, Louisiana offers little to no tax incentives for these.  Go figure - we dig holes for oil....

Offline Dan

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 05:03:05 PM »
The hood space is next to nothing.  Leaves much more room inside, I imagine.

Are those vehicles crash tested, and if so, how do they fare compared to a comparable sized petro vehicle?

What about insurance cost, again comparably speaking?

Did you have to make any modifications to your home electrical in order to house the charger?  If you wanted to take a short over night trip, is there a portable charger you can bring?  Or does it always carry the charger with it?

Finally, how many kilowatts of electricity does it take to charge the batteries fully from dead?  IOW - what is the effective fuel cost for your 80-100 miles of range?

I like the green - it looks like a fun car to drive.  I was never in the market for an electric car, but unlike MA, Louisiana offers little to no tax incentives for these.  Go figure - we dig holes for oil....


I forget the crash rating but it's very high, there are many YouTube videos showing crash tests.


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gvTjDyyOhJo


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NyOLoRuDGHo


The insurance cost is nearly identical to my old Mazda 3 for sake of comparison.


We didn't have to make any changes to our home electrical. The portable, included charging cord comes with the car and plugs into a typical socket. Charging to full takes about twelve hours. You can install a 240 volt EVSE around $700 to get the car to charge to full in under three hours.  From what I've read it's much cheaper than gas but I forget the ratio, less than a third I think.  It has a 17Kw battery.


It is fun to drive, the motor is over the rear axle so the front hood only has a few fluid reservoirs. Because of this they have more room to rotate the front tires in a turn. I believe it is a less than seven meter turning radius, you can literally do a u-turn in a narrow two lane road.  Lotsa torque off the line and will be most cars for the first ten meters or so but then it fizzles out.






Offline Wahrsuul

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 05:32:26 AM »
I seriously looked at the Smart Car a few years ago as an option to commuting in my old Ram.  The crash ratings are far better than expected, and I agree with you that they're far roomier than I expected.  Acceleration is what I expected, but what I couldn't stand was the transmission.  An automatic that shifts like someone who's just learning a manual is annoying.  The gap between changing gears is huge.  For the price of the car at the time, it just wasn't worth it.  Ended up trading the Ram for the Mazda.

I understand Smart is fixing the trans for the latest versions.  I know, not an electric, but I imagine it's the same car except for the drivetrain.

Offline hppants

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 06:06:04 AM »
Those crash test videos are impressive.  For such a small car, it holds up very well under the crash tests.

We pay about $0.10 per KW for electricity, including taxes and fees.  That means I could charge the battery for that vehicle for $1.70, and get 80 miles of use out of it.  The cheapest regular grade gasoline here is $2.27 a gallon today.  In today's dollars, that equates to 1.34 charges, or a gasoline equivalent "fuel mileage" of 106.8 mpg!!!!

^^^^^ THAT has got my attention.

It looks like you can buy that car for about $17,500 after the federal tax incentive, and before sales tax/title/license.  That compares fairly close to the cost of a sub-compact/mini gasoline car.

In 6-8 years, you have to buy about $4,000 in batteries, but I wonder how that offsets to the cost of gas engine maintenance?

It would appear that the electric vehicle is becoming more affordable and competitive to the conventional drivetrain.  Without the tax incentive, I don't think so.  But the numbers are much closer than even 2-3 years ago.

Offline DesignFlaw06

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 06:51:41 AM »
I will say when I was out in Boston a couple weeks ago, I really noticed that being green was encouraged almost everywhere.  At least far more than here in Michigan. 

From what I remember from the initial SMART car was that the European model could get 70-90 MPG, running on diesel.  The US model could only get 35-40 MPG running on gas.  The diesel wasn't refined enough in the US to use in the SMART car.  With gas prices being down and other vehicles getting close to that economy without sacrificing space, I'm not surprised they went to all electric. 

Charging time is the issue with electric cars so I never see them as a permanent solution.  However, replacing city commuting will keep getting more viable as the infrastructure adapts.

Offline mollusc

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 07:08:35 AM »
The thing that I'm surprised hasn't caught on more is a modular battery system, especially for fleet vehicles (think USPS, or parking wardens).  The depleted set simply gets switched out for a charged set, so there's no operational lag to the vehicle.  It does mean more infrastructure space but you've already saved that space since the vehicles themselves are smaller.
I also wonder about induction charging from overhead/underground wiring as the vehicles are moving around.  It's a small amount, but possibly significant.
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Offline DesignFlaw06

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 08:29:19 AM »
The thing that I'm surprised hasn't caught on more is a modular battery system, especially for fleet vehicles (think USPS, or parking wardens).  The depleted set simply gets switched out for a charged set, so there's no operational lag to the vehicle.  It does mean more infrastructure space but you've already saved that space since the vehicles themselves are smaller.

Well, there is still a lag, needing to head back to swap out batteries.   I do see a market for delivery vehicles though.  Those are function over form and could hold a battery large enough to be a viable solution for a daily route.  There's a weight / fuel economy trade off I'm sure plus the cost of replacement batteries.  I'm also not sure how far the average postman drives in a day.  There's also the power grip that would be required to charge a fleet.  But just because it isn't viable now doesn't mean it won't be in the future.  We have to start somewhere and demonstrate the demand.

I'm really curious to see what Tesla has in store with their Semi product.  It's supposed to be unveiled sometime this month I think.   Couple the fuel savings along with their automated driving technology and I think you could see a huge cost reduction. 

I also wonder about induction charging from overhead/underground wiring as the vehicles are moving around.  It's a small amount, but possibly significant.

The problem with inductive charging is that the coils need to be aligned. There is a handshaking that goes on to make sure you're charging something you're supposed to and not something else that is electrically conductive.  There is some wiggle room, but my phone displays crosshairs when it detects it's on an inductive charger so you can align it properly.  The further off you are, the less efficient the charging is.  That's just X&Y.  Add Z in there where you're another foot off the ground and you're looking at real inefficiency at a huge cost. 





Offline mollusc

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 09:33:06 AM »
Okay, the inductive charging doesn't make sense then.  I don't really know anything about the physics of it so I didn't know whether it was feasible; it just seemed like a way to possibly scavenge some environmental picoamps.
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Offline Dan

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 10:05:18 AM »
I understand Smart is fixing the trans for the latest versions.  I know, not an electric, but I imagine it's the same car except for the drivetrain.


From what I've been told by my salesman the transmission lag has been fixed with the 453 gas model, which you can still get in the US brand new.  All future Smart cars will be electric from 2017 and on in the US and Norway.  The transmission isn't an issue on the electric as it is a single speed direct drive.


or a gasoline equivalent "fuel mileage" of 106.8 mpg!!!!

^^^^^ THAT has got my attention.

It looks like you can buy that car for about $17,500 after the federal tax incentive, and before sales tax/title/license.  That compares fairly close to the cost of a sub-compact/mini gasoline car.

In 6-8 years, you have to buy about $4,000 in batteries, but I wonder how that offsets to the cost of gas engine maintenance?

It would appear that the electric vehicle is becoming more affordable and competitive to the conventional drivetrain.  Without the tax incentive, I don't think so.  But the numbers are much closer than even 2-3 years ago.


It's not only the reduced cost in fuel, an electric car has very little maintenance.  There is no oil to change, no transmission, fuel lines.  For the Smart I have three wear items, the brakes, tires and a filter that gets replaced every four years.


Eventually subsidies and rebates will disappear, by then manufacture of electric cars should be more efficient.  Our car is the top of the line, Prime model, don't let that fool you, it isn't all that decked out but still pricey.  I think it was $27k total.  We leased it rather than buying it so Mercedes gets the fed tax credit but we get a reduced price on our lease.  We do get the Massachusetts state rebate of $2500 plus I traded our Mazda 3 in on the deal.  We paid well under $3k for three years with a one time lease payment.  We did the lease with the thinking that electric tech will be changing so much in a few years that owning a niche car would be a financial burden for resell.


The Smart's battery is warrantied for eight years, obviously with a three year lease it will never be a worry.  At the end of eight years it is said that the range would degrade and the car would lose some power, how much is uncertain.


Like I wrote earlier, if I were wanting a more traditional car I would get the Chevy Bolt, with all the incentives in MA a top of the line model can be had for $23k which is a sweet deal once you start tallying up all the value added costs of maintenance and gas.


Here is another fun video of the Smart car with it's crazy tight turning radius:






Offline Dan

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 10:19:59 AM »
One other thing to mention about electrics in general are charging stations.  Depending where you live you can find remote charging stations, some are free, some have a small cost associated with use.


https://na.chargepoint.com/charge_point


The New England area has quite a few and most seem to be free to use.  Of course charging takes some time but if you stop for lunch or dinner an hour of charge on a level 2 station can get a Smart Car around 20 to 30 miles.

Offline Larry Fine

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 07:34:48 PM »
Here is another fun video of the Smart car with it's crazy tight turning radius:

Big deal; I can do that on my bike.  ridn2

Offline Rakillia

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2017, 08:45:14 AM »
Does it not charge the same way a prius does when you hit the brakes?  We use to have a prius and when you hit the brakes, the pads don't even touch the rotors unless you really hit them or are already basically stopped.  It uses that energy to charge the battery.  Like Dan we also leased as I assumed the technology was moving faster than the used car market.  I didn't want to get stuck trying to sell old technology.  We turned it in with about 50k miles and the brake pads had very little wear.  I'd imagine you could get a least 100k miles out of a set of brake pads.  I have been looking at the smart cars since I do a lot of short, less than 15 mile commuting.  Gas engines hate short commuting like that.  My only problem is that it would be a 4th car and it can't replace the use of any of the other 3. 

Offline Dan

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Re: The 650's Get a Peculiar Friend
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2017, 12:09:30 PM »
Does it not charge the same way a prius does when you hit the brakes?  We use to have a prius and when you hit the brakes, the pads don't even touch the rotors unless you really hit them or are already basically stopped.  It uses that energy to charge the battery. 


Yep.  It's called regenerative braking or regen.  On the Smart you simply let off the accelerator and it that energy gets sent back to the battery.  You can change the display to a graphic that will show power from battery and power to battery.  There is also an instrument cluster that does it.  Lot's of graphics to flip through on the cluster, Serena's favorite is the eco score, best it 100, she has got in the low 90's a few times and it bugs her a lot when she doesn't do well.

 

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