Next Smart ED on sale next year

* Fortwo Electric Drive on general sale * Improved lithium-ion battery pack * Increased range and performance...

Next Smart ED on sale next year

Smart's electric car, the Fortwo ED (Electric Drive), will go on sale next spring.

The current version is taking part in a trial with 60 cars leased to customers in London and 40 in the West Midlands but the third-generation Smart ED will be available for anyone to buy or lease.

It will be available in right-hand drive and gets a new lithium-ion battery pack that powers a 55kW motor. Top speed increases from 62mph in the current Fortwo ED to 74.5mph.

Smart doesn't quote a 0-62mph time, but 0-38mph is cut from 6.5 seconds to 5 seconds. The car's range also improves a little, with the current 84 miles extended to more than 87 miles.

It takes eight hours to completely recharge the batteries, although a fast charge can be completed in an hour with the optional quick-charge function.

There are cosmetic changes, too, with a larger grille, LED daytime running lights and wider door sills. It will also feature air-con that can be operated from the internet or a smartphone. This allows owners to cool the car while it's still charging, rather than draining the battery while driving.

Also fitted are electric windows and door mirrors, while sat-nav and a leather-trimmed steering wheel are options.

Prices for the new Smart ED haven't been revealed. The car will go on sale alongside updated petrol and diesel versions of the Fortwo next spring.