By Viknesh Vijayenthiran
Fresh from its win in last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge, Smart has unveiled a funky electric urban pickup concept at this week’s 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
Yes, this tiny concept car is an open-top pickup complete with a sturdy tray, which Smart claims is ideal for holding a pair of bikes or whatever else the vehicle’s two passengers may wish to carry--along as it’s small.
The electric drive of the For-Us Concept is based on the electric drivetrain that will feature in the latest-generation Smart ForTwo Electric Drive due this spring.
It consists of an electric motor rated at 73 horsepower and 95 pound-feet of torque and a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 17.6 kWh. In the For-Us Concept this zero-emission drivetrain will see the vehicle reach a top speed of 75 mph.
One innovative feature is the vehicle’s charging outlet in the cargo area. Smart suggests carrying a pair of electric bikes, so that any driver of the For-Us can also reach destinations that are out of bounds for cars--for example traffic-calmed zones in the city or isolated park trails.
While we don’t expect Smart to launch a pickup model anytime soon, we can envisage the For-Us Concept’s open-top design featuring on a sporty new roadster model. Following the success MINI has enjoyed with all its variants spun-off the basic Cooper hatchback design, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Smart follow the same route using its next-generation ForTwo as the basis.