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Next Electric Smart Car May Be Cheapest EV in US

When the electric 2014 smart fortwo makes its U.S. debut this spring, it may become the country’s most affordable electric car on sale.

In Europe, the smart fortwo electric drive (ED, for short) costs €18,910, or just under $25,000 at current exchange rates. That puts it a good $5,000 lower than the least-expensive EV, the Mitsubishi I-MiEV. The catch: Smart drivers must lease the battery from Daimler for $85 per month.

Smart isn’t the only automaker trying to soften EV sticker shock. Renault offers a battery lease on its low-speed, two-passenger Twizy for $59 per month, and also plans to offer the incentive on its larger electric car, the Zoe, due this fall. But while battery leasing may lower short-term ownership costs, it’s a drain for buyers wishing to keep an EV for more than five years. After that time, the smart’s price advantage over the Mitsubishi crumbles (total price, including the battery, is just under $31,000).


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