Electric Smart Car

I am looking to replace my Volkswagen beetle with a smaller, electric car. I am interested in the Smart Car as it meets those two criteria. I realize that it has its drawbacks - small size and 58 mile range. The small size for us is a plus and the range is fine. This car is to run errands in our small California Coastal town. The only drawback that we can see is that servicing would either be in San Francisco or San Jose. That might be okay if we are not back and forth to the dealer. Can anyone comment on the dependability of the Smart Car and if it hits a mark as an around town errand car with minimum service needs?

The Smart Car is being discontinued in the US. I would not recommend one for that reason alone.

Look to a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt, or maybe BMW i3


Smaller than a VW Beetle is really the hardest part of your list of qualifications. I am pretty sure the only answer is the Fiat 500e. You should shop the used EV car market (maybe check out our partner BestRide’s listings.) An alum of CarTalk has a 500e and that person loves the vehicle. The alum paid a ridiculously low price for it. Don’t forget to budget for a home charger.

Having tested all of the EVs on the market today, I like Kia’s the best. The new Soul EV is well worth a look and the Niro Electric is my favorite of any vehicle I have tested this year - not just EVs. I drove it back to back with the Model 3 from Tesla and the Niro was better in every single way. A used Kia Soul EV from the prior generation would be worth a look.

Smart failed for so many reasons they are too numerous to count. I won’t weigh in except to point to Mustangman’s comments above.


If I was looking in that market, the Chevy Bolt would be on the list. It’s about the same length as the Beetle, and very practical, along with a great range. I’d run away from the Smart and the Fiat.

1 Like

How about another vote to avoid the Smart Car of any type .


Yeah it’s so dependable no one is buying them except in Europe. Guess you’d have to drive farther than San Jose at some point. Keep the Beetle.

Agreed with the others. The Smart car, in any powertrain configuration, has been on my avoid list ever since I found out the wheels are designed to shatter in a wreck because they are part of the crumple zone. There is such a thing as stupidly small, and being dwarfed by a golf cart is a great example. :wink:

@Mustangman has the right idea, even if the car were great, which it’s not. You really don’t want the hassle of dealing with a car that is exiting the market unless you’re just that much of an enthusiast for it.

The Kona/Niro that @GorehamJ suggested would be a great place to start looking for an EV that won’t lose its support chain any time soon. I also would urge you to get an EV that has >100 miles in range. I know you say the 58 mile range is fine for you, but I guarantee at that range you will run across a situation where you are inconvenienced by it. If you’ve already made a trip to the grocery store and back, and you’ve just plugged it in when you find out you really need to go somewhere else, you’re going to be stuck either waiting for it to charge, or you’ll have to call a cab.

Keep in mind that EV mileage ratings (just like gas car mpg ratings) are best-case scenarios. Really hot day where you’re running the AC a lot? You’re not getting 58 miles out of it. Really cold day? Same thing.

I know guys with first-generation Leafs (Leaves?) who have to sweat the commute a little bit when conditions aren’t good because in some cases their range gets cut in half. That’s why I’m much more impressed with the current Leaf that offers a much higher range.

My wife and I are getting ready to investigate buying an EV. We carpool, and our commute is about 50 miles round trip, and so we’re setting a minimum range of 220 miles, because sometimes things happen that cause you to have to drive farther than normal, or that cause you to get less range than normal. It’s good to have a nice wide “I’m having a bad day” margin.


One of my coworkers has a Bolt, and is very satisfied with it. I believe it still qualifies for the $7500 federal tax credit, and there might be a tax credit in Minnesota, too.

1 Like

Thanks Everyone,

That was what I was afraid the response would be to my query would bring.

On to Plan B for this one, I guess.

Thanks for everybody’s taking the time to help me avoid a costly mistake.



Some version of a Prius is probably going to be as close to a sure thing as you are going to find in electrics and hybrids, in terms of bang for the buck and overall reliability.

1 Like

You can find a used electric Smart car for less than $8,000, reasonable for a second car or toy.