BROOKLYN, NY - The smart fortwo electric drive made its debut in the United States on June 8, and smart USA announced it will begin deploying a fleet of 250 electric drive vehicles across the nation this fall. 

smart USA Distributor LLC, headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is the exclusive distributor of the smart fortwo in the United States and Puerto Rico and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Penske Automotive Group Inc. The smart fortwo is a brand of, and is manufactured by, Daimler AG. 

The automaker said it is targeting key EV cities and Department of Energy grant areas, as well as companies, municipalities, organizations and individuals "interested in making a passionate statement on conservation and environmental awareness." 

Partners for vehicle placements will be announced later this year, and series production for consumer sales in smart center dealerships will begin in 2012 with the 2013 model year. 

The United States' fleet of 250 electric drive vehicles will begin arriving in October 2010. The vehicles represent the second phase of a three-phase program. Phase one started with the placement of 100 electric drive units in London in 2007. Phase two is producing 1,500 cars for cities in Europe, the United States and Canada as well as selected markets in Asia. First deliveries started in Germany late last year. Phase three will be series volume production starting in the 2012 model year. 

The phase-two smart fortwo electric drive vehicles arriving in the United States this year are full electric vehicles, powered by a 30 kW drive motor and 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Using a standard 220V outlet, the vehicle takes only three and a half hours to charge the battery from 20 to 80 percent of its capacity and less than eight hours to fully charge it. 

The battery can also be charged using a common household 110V outlet. The vehicle can reach highway speeds and offer a range of 82 miles on a single charge. 

The pilot program will provide third-generation technology developers with performance experience in the continental United States. "The information gathered in the phase-two vehicle research will establish the performance, range capability and recharging time of the series production vehicles with third-generation technology," the automaker said. 

"The smart fortwo electric drive is the ultimate statement on innovative automotive conservation and further defines the brand's independent spirit," said Jill Lajdziak, president of smart USA. "As the United States sets goals on CO2 reduction and oil independence, the smart fortwo electric drive enters the market at the right time and in the right place as the purist's play in transportation electrification with a no compromise design."