The future of smart mobility and car sharing looks bright with Smart

Given how rapid the advancements are in smart mobility, it figures that it would only be a matter of time before more and more automakers begin showcasing their cars of the future. We’ve already seen a handful of concepts in the past year, and now Smart is joining the fray with the presentation of the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept.

The Vision EQ Fortwo Concept is, for all intents and purposes, a showcase of the company’s interpretation for the future of car sharing services. It’s not meant to be a personal vehicle so any influence in that regard has been put on the shelves in favor of pushing for advancements in car sharing technology. The results are what you’d expect it to be as the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept really is unlike any concept that smart has introduced in years. It still takes the shape of a concept Fortwo, but in the case of this vehicle, the devil really is in the details, as you will see in the section below. For now, there aren’t any plans to bring the concept up to production, so don’t expect it to suddenly show up at your front door waiting to pick you up. This concept is a preview of a potential future where technologies in car sharing, electrification, and smart mobility all come together as one. If the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept doesn’t get you excited for that kind of future, there’s little reason to expect anything else that will.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Exterior

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728946
The first thing you’ll notice about the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept is that it still looks like an actual car with four wheels.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept is that it still looks like an actual car with four wheels. This is important because it rids the notion – or the hope, in some cases – of seeing future cars with completely different configurations from what we’re used to. The concept even takes hints from previous Smart concepts, though it must be said that its mushroom-like shape is something that we’ve never seen before.

Some of the details in the exterior are not what they appear to be either. Take the headlights and taillights, for example. They look the part of traditional lights, but they’re actually LED screens. It’s a wonder why nobody has ever thought of using these spaces as screens instead of having an actual lighting system in them, but I suppose the whole notion of LED screens acting as headlights and taillights will be shut down by government regulations all over the world.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution
- image 728949
In truth, it’s actually a large digital panel that’s capable of displaying messages and graphics.

Now take a look at the front grille, or at least what we think is a front grille. In truth, it’s actually a large digital panel that’s capable of displaying messages and graphics. According to Smart, this feature is a way for these cars to communicate with each other on the road, including information pertaining to how many passengers are inside the car at any given point in time.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution
- image 728945

Move to the side of the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept and you’re greeted by a pair of circular doors that pivots over the rear axle, opening vertically instead of outward. Smart designed this trick to save space when the doors are opened. I suppose that’s one way to make the concept fit into unusually tight parking spaces.

On a more traditional front, the concept’s wheels have some panache in them, too, in the form of rose gold-colored, three-dimensional elements. I suppose this is nothing more than a cosmetic enhancement with no futuristic abilities themselves. Nevertheless, it’s a fancy touch for a fancy car.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728982

Now let’s talk about the rear section, which is largely dominated by a blackened window, presumably done to help maintain some privacy in the cabin. Just at the bottom of it is a diffuser, which points to the electric powertrain that the concept has to power it.

Interior

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Interior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728956
Even by the traditional standards of concept vehicles, the interior of the Vision EQ Fortwo is even more technologically dynamic than you’d expect.

Ah, yes. The crown jewel section of the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept. Even by the traditional standards of concept vehicles, the interior of the Vision EQ Fortwo is even more technologically dynamic than you’d expect. What’s prominent here isn’t what you can see in the cabin, but what you can’t see inside. Off the bat, you’ll notice that there’s no steering wheel or any other conventional controls in the cabin. There’s still a dashboard, though most of it is dominated by a 24-inch display unit that’s flanked by two smaller displays.

The small displays on the outer edges of the dash have their own functions, though most of what you’ll need can be found on the large digital display in the middle. smart didn’t say what kind of information the display will carry, but we can at least imagination that given its function as the brain of the whole car, any and every relevant information about the car’s functions and services, including the identities of the passengers, will be displayed there.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Interior High Resolution
- image 728957
High-quality man-made leather covers most of it.

Now let’s talk about that futuristic lounge-looking bench seat that’s divided by an armrest in the middle. High-quality man-made leather covers most of it. That same armrest can also retract if the passengers don’t have any use for it. The design of the seat is impressive and the use of blue contrast colors create a nice look to it.

From where we are, the concept looks very promising. About the only thing that’s a bit concerning is the storage space, an issue Smart has continuously dealt with given the physical limitations of its cars. The concept looks to have the same issues, and Smart didn’t do itself any favors by trying to mask it by describing it as a generous “impression” of space. We see right through you, Smart. In any case, the car does have storage space, specifically on the floor and under the bench seat. Smart didn’t say how much cargo volume is under that seat, but don’t expect there to be too much of it.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Interior High Resolution
- image 728948
2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Interior High Resolution
- image 728959

That small issue aside, everything about the cabin of the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept makes for an appropriately fascinating picture of what the interior of an autonomous car sharing electric vehicle could look like in the future. I can’t say that this is the best interior concept I’ve seen that serves the purposes of smart mobility and car sharing, but Smart did well for itself with the means that it has. That’s more than what I can say for other automakers who have yet to showcase their plans in addressing the future of this business.

Drivetrain

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution
- image 728969
At the heart of the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that comes with a capacity of 30 kWh.

At the heart of the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that comes with a capacity of 30 kWh. It’s not much in terms of power compared to what we already see in the industry today. The Chevy Bolt EV, for example, has a 60-kWh lithium-ion battery. But, given that the Smart Concept’s primary focus is to shuttle people around urban cities, a 30-kWh battery should be enough.

When the Smart vision EQ Concept is not in use, it can independently go to a charging station to drink up with new energy, ensuring that it can run around a city for a whole day without interrupting passengers’ schedules. The EQ Concept docks inductively with its power source, too.

Most of the things the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept can do are all still in the process of being developed, so there are no guarantees that this is what a production version will look like if Smart decides to green-light it in the future. If you like what you’re seeing, pray that it does get traction. Mercedes, after all, is in the process of beefing up its new EQ sub-brand and I can’t think of a better entry-level model there than a fully electric, autonomous Smart Fortwo that’s developed specifically for car sharing services.

Conclusion

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728971

There’s always something tricky about navigating expectations when it comes to concept vehicles. Imagine the difficulty of balancing out hope and reality with a concept that touts itself on technologies that themselves are still being developed. It’s a bit of a reach, but this is where the industry is headed and it’s hard to blame Smart (or Smart’s parent company, Mercedes, for that matter) for taking this leap and showing us the Vision EQ fortwo Concept. I’m actually a fan of the whole concept, expectations notwithstanding. Remove all the sugar coating of LED screens, bubble doors, and other what-have-yous, and you’re left with a vehicle that has a purpose for being here.

Only Mercedes knows if this concept is a one-off presentation or if there are real-world plans to put it into production. That’s neither here nor there, even if signs of them are already around in the present day.

At this point in time, the technologies and government regulations still have some maturing to do, so it will be a while before something this ambitious is rolling down the road. In the mean time, we’ll hope for one thing at a time because anything more will end up with a lot of us being disappointed.

  • Leave it
    • * Still a long ways off
    • * Not that powerful
    • * A production model could look a lot different

References

Smart ForTwo

2015 Smart Fortwo High Resolution Exterior
- image 560210

Read our full review on the Smart ForTwo.

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive High Resolution Exterior
- image 689218

Read our full review on the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

Press release

The smart vision EQ fortwo provides a new vision of urban mobility and individualised, highly flexible, totally efficient local public transport: the autonomous concept vehicle picks up its passengers directly from their chosen location. New individualisation options help users to recognise that it is "their" vehicle: by means of the Black Panel Grille at the front as well as large projection surfaces at the sides, the smart vision EQ fortwo allows unprecedented individualisation of the vehicle, ideal for car sharing. Freed from the task of driving, the passengers are able to relax in the large interior. The show car is the first vehicle from the Daimler Group to take the logical step of dispensing with a steering wheel and pedals.

The smart vision EQ fortwo is also a car in which all of the individual fields of expertise that make up the CASE corporate strategy are combined, allowing users in the city intuitive access to individual mobility. CASE stands for the strategic pillars of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric).

With the electrically powered smart vision EQ fortwo, smart is presenting a concept vehicle from the relatively recent product and technology brand EQ at the 2017 Frankfurt International Motor Show. More than ten new electric cars are set to go into series production at Mercedes-Benz Cars by 2022, from the smart to the large SUV. smart took the first step back in 2007 with the smart electric drive and today optionally offers all its models with an electric powertrain.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution
- image 728969

"The smart vision EQ fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric," says smart CEO Annette Winkler. "With the smart vision EQ fortwo, we are giving a face to the themes with which Mercedes-Benz Cars describes the vision of future mobility within the CASE strategy."

Shared: The smart vision EQ fortwo is a new vision of car sharing. Because transforming "urban traffic" into "city flow" in future will not only benefit the users but the public at large too, cities and municipal authorities are also a target group for future car sharing concepts from smart. Currently, a car2go vehicle is hired somewhere in the world every 1.4 seconds. At present car2go has over 2.6 million customers worldwide – and the number is growing all the time. The latest studies predict that the number of users of car sharing schemes worldwide will have quintupled by 2025 to 36.7 million. One of the factors that make car2go so popular is that free-floating car sharing is spontaneous and flexible. The car does not have to be picked up from or taken back to a specific location. It can be hired and left anywhere in the designated "home" area.

Autonomous: The smart vision EQ fortwo concept vehicle demonstrates how autonomous driving could make future car sharing even more convenient, simple and economically efficient. Thanks to swarm intelligence and autonomous driving, the smart vision EQ fortwo heralds a new era in car sharing: users do not have to look for the next available car – it will find them and collect the passengers directly from their chosen location. And thanks to swarm intelligence and the resulting predictability of demand, it will probably already be nearby, making the journey to pick up a "hire car" a thing of the past. The interconnected vehicles are always on the road. Utilisation increases and at the same time the amount of traffic and the number of parking spaces required in urban areas are reduced.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728972

Connected: The smart vision EQ fortwo is summoned using a mobile device. New individualisation options help users to recognise that it is "their" vehicle: the Black Panel at the front (size: 44 inches/105 x 40 cm) as well as large projection surfaces at the sides allow the smart vision EQ fortwo to be personalised. LED displays in place of the headlamps can echo a classic look (from sporty to neutral) or take on an eye-like shape, which allows the vehicle to communicate on a more human level. The rear lamps can also have a conventional look or provide detailed information - for example warnings or traffic information. The front radiator grille serves on the one hand to add a personal touch and on the other to communicate with other road users (e.g. information for pedestrians crossing the road). The doors of the show car are coated with a film that can be activated as required. If the car is unoccupied, information about local events, the weather, news or the time can be displayed. The smart’s Black Panel Grille indicates whether the car is occupied by one or by two passengers.

Those who want can use the 1+1 sharing function to make contact with other interesting users. Possible passengers are suggested on the basis of their saved profiles and current travel plans, and can be accepted or rejected. When two passengers are on board, the large display in the interior shows shared interests such as concerts they have recently attended or sports that they play. The extra time gained as a result of travelling in an autonomous vehicle can be used to chat and interact.

Electric: The smart vision EQ fortwo features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 30 kWh. When not in use, it makes its way independently to a charging station to load up with new energy. Alternatively, the cars can dock with the power grid inductively, feed in electricity and act as a "swarm battery", taking pressure off the grid. smart is playing a key role here in shaping the energy revolution.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728982

Design: urban lifestyle of the future

The smart vision EQ fortwo (length/width/height: 2699/1720/1535 mm) is a cool two-seater and, like all smart models, scores with a maximum of room in a minimum of space. The vehicle communicates by means of a Black Panel Grille and LED displays, which replace headlamps and tail lamps. The side windows are covered with a special film onto which information can be projected from inside. The front area of the interior features a Black Panel Display for user interface activities.

"The smart vision EQ fortwo embodies the urban luxury of the future. It is a radical approach with a cool and minimalist design. The show car has the hallmark smart proportions, with accentuated, pronounced wheel arches at the four corners and with no overhang," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. "A multiplicity of digital surfaces inside and outside allows the next level of communication between human and automobile. The customer is able to personalise the vehicle according to their individual needs."

Exterior: hallmark smart proportions, new door concept

The exterior is like a piece of jewellery with a receptacle symbolically encircling a precious pearl. With the "one-and-a-half box" design, the pronounced, powerful wheel arches and the short overhangs at the front and rear, the proportions are typically smart.

The new door concept is a distinctive feature. To save space, the two doors pivot wing-like over the rear axle, making access easier and creating a fascinating architecture. The door concept also reduces the danger of collision with cyclists and pedestrians.

Rose gold-coloured, three-dimensional elements in the wheels and in the diffuser allude to the electric drive system and create a bridge to the hallmark EQ design. The side windows have a tapering hexagonal look.

The clear, future-oriented exterior design is reinforced by white metallic surfaces and dark-tinted glass surfaces. In a contemporary and technological manner, the smart plays with colour on the exterior by means of a large number of display graphics.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Interior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
- image 728956

Interior: generous space, intelligent stowage

The colour scheme of the smart vision EQ fortwo features a cool and futuristic look which is combined with warm touches of rose gold.

The show car is the first of the Daimler Group’s vehicles to take the logical step of dispensing with the steering wheel and pedals. The vehicle functions are controlled via personal mobile device or voice input, an arrangement that is intuitive, convenient and hygienic. Dispensing with conventional control elements makes the white interior appear even more spacious. The dashboard is replaced by a 24‑inch (58.5 x 15.6 cm) screen which is surrounded by a rose gold-coloured frame. The outer edges feature two smaller displays (four-inch), which can be used by the smart vision EQ fortwo for example to say "Welcome".

Covered with a new, innovative and high-quality man-made leather, the white seats are easy to clean and therefore compatible with the idea of sharing. The lounge-like bench seat offers room for up to two passengers. If required, a retractable centre armrest creates a separation between the occupants or serves as a stowage facility. The white interior creates a generous impression of space.

2017 Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept Exterior High Resolution
- image 728947

Further, intelligent stowage options are available on the floor and under the bench seat. Luggage and personal accessories can be secured under blue rubber tightening straps.

A large number of digital surfaces both inside and outside allow a new level of communication between human and automobile with regard to all aspects of autonomous driving and car sharing. The vehicle’s colours and screens adapt to its customers, offering a private sanctuary in the bustling city. The user is thus also given the possibility to personalise the vehicle and adapt it to their needs.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: