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Detroit show: Smart’s ‘tongue-in-cheek’ pick-up line

For who: In creating the For-us for the US, Smart says it loves pick-up trucks, but only if they’re “small on the outside, large on the inside, very safe and extremely comfortable”.

Smart micro-ute concept takes swipe at US pick-ups, provides clues to next ForFour

Smart logo8 Dec 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

MERCEDES-BENZ micro-car brand Smart has developed a self-proclaimed “tongue in cheek” urban pick-up truck concept pitched at the US market, hence the name For-us and the announcement that the vehicle will make its world premiere at next month’s Detroit motor show.

While there are no plans for production at this stage, the full-electric For-us ute embodies the German luxury car brand’s plan to broaden the Smart line-up with new models, and to gain more traction in North America.

The For-us has emerged with the same running gear as the Smart ForTwo ED (Electric Drive), which enters its third generation in the first half of next year and could find its way on to Australian roads, with Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific confirming to GoAuto in August that a business case – albeit one that presents “a challenge” – was underway for the ED.

The For-us uses the ED’s 55kW/130Nm electric motor and 17.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack, claiming “powerful, lag-free acceleration” and overtaking “with the greatest of ease”.

Maximum speed is 120km/h, while acceleration from 0-60km/h and 0-100km/h on the ED (and still to be confirmed on the For-us) is 5.0 and 13.0 seconds respectively.

37 center imageSketches show the two-seater For-us takes on styling cues from Smart’s Forvision concept unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September – a precursor to the next-generation ForFour, which is being developed in partnership with Renault – with a modern, practical edge at the rear-end.

The latter includes a 900mm cargo floor length and an electrically driven ‘tailboard’ that retracts by 280mm when the tailgate slides down in a parallel position to improve access to the load area.

The tub also serves as a docking station for a pair of e-bikes, charging the electric motor on the bikes while attached to the vehicle.

Compared to the current ForTwo, the For-us rests on a longer wheelbase of 2480mm – up 613mm – and has 50mm-wider tracks to emphasise the “robust look” of the utility.

It is 852mm longer overall at 3547mm, equivalent in width (excluding mirrors) at 1506mm and, owing to its raised ride height, is 1701mm in height (up 159mm).

Daimler describes the concept as translating the “practical loading concept of a pick-up to the reality of 21st century urban traffic for the first time” and takes a swipe at the gas-guzzling big utilities that remain a dominate part of the US landscape.

“Smart is turning the automotive world upside down once again and challenging ideas about what an urban pick-up should look like,” the company says.

“In a tongue-in-cheek manner the For-us signals that this is the right car for the young and young-at-heart with active lives who attach importance to low emissions and taking up minimum road space.”

Smart CEO Annette Winkler said: “We at Smart love pick-ups – (but only) if they are small on the outside, large on the inside, very safe and extremely comfortable.

“With the smart For-us, a petrol station is no longer required.”

The front-end design is described as “friendly yet assertive”, while Smart claims the overall appearance makes a “powerful statement” with its take on the “martial image of conventional mega-pickups”.

A blend of mother-of-pearl white and brushed aluminium surface treatments are applied to the minimalist two-seater cabin.

A smartphone holder is used in place of a conventional rear-view mirror, with an integrated video camera providing a view of the road behind.

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