By Carl Malek
When smart unveiled the for-us urban pickup truck concept on the floor of the 2012 North American International Auto Show, it was hard for me to decide which aspect of smart’s press conference was the strangest, John Lovitz of SNL fame helping to introduce the concept to the assembled press, or a smart “pickup truck” that has somewhat reasonable cargo capability. While I could not make a clear choice when it came to that particular debate, the smart For-Us concept car does bring some fresh ideas to the brand as well as what the future could hold for smart.
The smart for-us concept is powered by a 75 horsepower motor which produces a healthy 98 lb ft of torque and also makes use of a 17.6 kW/h lithium ion battery pack which packs more juice in its cells than the Chevrolet Volt’s battery pack does. smart claims that the smart for-us can make the sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat before topping out at 80 mph. These numbers aren’t bad, especially for a vehicle that was designed as a small urban pickup truck. smart was also quick to point out that the battery is capable of going from 20 percent to 80 percent charged in 3.5 hours with a full charge taking 8 hours to complete.
The exterior of the smart for-us concept boasts many quirky and unique styling touches, but its main feature is its rear cargo bed, which measures in at a tight 11.6 cubic feet. While this may seem a bit on the small side when compared to more conventional pickup offerings such as the Ford F-150, it does offer young city dwellers enough room for two bicycles or other small cargo items. To help provide easy access to this area, smart designers designed the tailgate to slide completely under the bed. That should make loading and unloading objects less of a hassle versus a conventional tailgate setup. The modular shaped tail lights can also be opened and removed to reveal hidden storage areas for the EV charging cable or small water bottles.
The interior of the smart for-us can hold two passengers and was designed to be a relaxing place to be with specially designed seats that provide a hammock-like feel and can also be easily customized to meet the needs of individual customers. smart designers also ditched a conventional rear-view mirror in favor of a small camera that transmits images to a smart phone that is cleverly mounted on the dashboard thanks to the use of a special bracket assembly.
At the time of its unveiling it was uncertain whether the smart for-us was given the green light for production, but the concept’s front end styling and other styling cues could serve as early clues to what the next generation smart fortwo could look like when it enters production.