One Smart Urban Choice

Coordinated by Rebecca Spring, WWF-Canada’s Manager of Sustainable Transportation. Written by Julie Stauffer
Nearly three years ago, Toronto resident Tom Sommerville stumbled upon a particularly interesting tweet. In conjunction with Toronto Hydro and Pollution Probe, Mercedes-Benz was recruiting participants into a pilot program to test prototypes of their new electric Smart car.
Eager to do his part for the environment and to reduce local air pollution, Tom was quick to sign up. The offer of free downtown parking and free charging didn’t hurt either. What he didn’t expect was how much he’d enjoy the impressive torque and acceleration he gets out of the zippy two-seater. “It turns out that electric is also really a lot of fun to drive,” he says.

Tom Sommerville edit
© Tom Sommerville

For larger family outings and out-of-town trips, Tom still relies on his Honda Accord. But as an in-city vehicle, the Smart car suits Tom to a tee. The 120-kilometre range is more than enough for his 30-kilometre round-trip commute, trips to the grocery store and other errands like picking his daughter up from music lessons.
Mercedes-Benz used feedback from pilot program participants to improve their design. While Tom’s prototype has a top speed of 105 km/hr, the new, commercially available Smart Fortwo Electric Drive can hit 125.
In Ontario and Quebec, provincial rebates lower the base price to less than $19,000, although most buyers will also want to pay for a home charging station. And in an age of skyrocketing gas prices, Tom marvels at how little it costs to keep his electric car charged.
“For all of 2012, I’d have spent $214 and change on electricity,” he says. “That one’s a pretty compelling stat.”