Daimler delivers first e-Smart cars in Berlin

Aiming to make urban driving more environmentally friendly, German carmaker Daimler delivered the first fully electric version of its small Smart model in Berlin on Thursday.

Daimler delivers first e-Smart cars in Berlin
Photo: DPA

Better known for its luxury Mercedes brand, Daimler’s tiny gasoline-powered Smart cars have been fixtures on German city streets for years. But the two vehicles handed over on Thursday will be powered solely by lithium-ion batteries that will take the vehicle a distance of 135 kilometres before needing to be recharged.

“I’ve always been a Smart fan and am proud that I can once again be trendsetter with my electro-Smart,” customer Rolf Bauer said upon getting the keys to his new ride.

Daimler said in a statement that the two Smarts delivered on Thursday represented only the first step in the carmaker’s global “e-mobility” programme, which intends to lease the small two-seater to corporate fleets, as well as business and private customers.

Besides Germany, the company is starting pilot projects with electric Smarts in Italy, Spain, England, France, Switzerland, Canada and the United States to test driver habits and vehicle-related services.

Drivers can charge the car’s lithium-ion battery at public charging stations or via a normal electrical socket while parked at home. Daimler is also hoping to innovate with the e-Smart’s “intelligent charging” system that bills the driver’s personal electricity provider regardless of where the car gets its juice.

“Along with modern driving technology we want to offer our customers the best possible service – we consider that simply part of developing groundbreaking forms of mobility,” said Daimler sales executive Harald Schuff.

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Green Party leader: ‘Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament’

Per Bolund, joint leader of Sweden's Green party, spoke for thirteen and a half minutes at Almedalen before he mentioned the environment, climate, or fossil fuels, in a speech that began by dwelling on healthcare, women's rights, and welfare, before returning to the party's core issue.

Green Party leader: 'Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament'

After an introduction by his joint leader Märta Stenevi, Bolund declared that his party was going into the election campaign on a promise “to further strengthen welfare, with more staff and better working conditions in healthcare, and school without profit-making, where the money goes to the pupils and not to dividends for shareholders”. 

Only then did he mention the party’s efforts when in government to “build the world’s first fossil-free welfare state”. 

“We know that if we want welfare to work in the future, we must have an answer to our time’s biggest crisis: the threat to the environment and the climate,” he said.

“We know that there is no welfare on a dead planet. We need to take our society into a new time, where we end our dependency on oil, meet the threat to the climate, and build a better welfare state within nature’s boundaries, what we call a new, green folkhem [people’s home].” 

He presented green policies as something that makes cities more liveable, with the new sommargågator — streets pedestrianised in the summer — showing how much more pleasant a life less dependent on cars might be.  

He then said his party wanted Sweden to invest 100 billion kronor a year on speeding up the green transition, to make Sweden fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

“We talk about the climate threat because it’s humanity’s biggest challenge, our biggest crisis,” he said. “And because we don’t have much time.” 

In the second half of his speech, however, Bolund used more traditional green party rhetoric, accusing the other political parties in Sweden of always putting off necessary green measures, because they do not seem urgent now, like a middle-aged person forgetting to exercise. 

“We know that we need to cut emissions radically if we are even going to have a chance of meeting our climate goal, but for all the other parties there’s always a reason to delay,” he said. 

“We are now seeing the curtain go up on the backlash in climate politics in Sweden. All the parties have now chosen to slash the biofuels blending mandate which means that we reduce emissions from petrol and diesel step for step, so you automatically fill your tank in a greener way. Just the government’s decision to pause the  reduction mandate will increase emissions by a million tonnes next year.” 

The right-wing parties, he warned, were also in this election running a relentless campaign against the green party. 

“The rightwing parties seem to have given up trying to win the election on their own policies,” he said. “Trying to systematically push out of parliament seems to be their way of trying to take power. And they don’t seem above any means. Slander campaigns, lies, and false information have become every day in Swedish right-wing politics.” 

He ended the speech with an upbeat note. 

“A better, more sustainable world is possible. There is a future to long for. If you give us a chance then that future is much closer than you think!”

Read the speech here in Swedish and here in (Google Translated) English.