De nieuwe smart forrail

From the autumn, Daimler employees who commute between the Group's Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and Stuttgart-Möhringen sites will be able to test prototypes of the new smart forrail before it is launched on the market in the early summer of 2016. The new model makes optimum use of the opportunities opened up by the new German law on electric mobility. In addition to travelling on normal road surfaces and in bus lanes, the smart forrail features special wheels which enable it to use tramways. It is also the first passenger car to offer an integrated current collector, such as is familiar from the field of rail transport. This collector feeds electricity into the high-capacity hybrid energy storage system consisting of double-layer capacitors and a traction battery. The aerodynamically optimised current collector can be retracted simply at the press of a button. The passengers do not notice the switch between the external and internal power supply.

Following the adoption of the German law on electric mobility (EmoG), which enables bus lanes to be allocated for use by electric vehicles, smart is already testing the next milestone in electric urban mobility in Stuttgart. The smart forrail is intended to enable drivers to switch between road and tram lines as they wish. This is made possible by an innovative wheel design combining conventional rubber car tyres with rail-compatible tyres made of steel. By making it possible to drive on tramways, the smart forrail enables its users to make much faster headway in the city: forrail drivers can simply drive past traffic jams on the roads by switching to road areas previously reserved for trams – urban mobility 3.0.

The use of tram lines also opens up access to existing overhead trolley lines, which have represented an unexploited resource for charging electric passenger cars to date.

The smart forrail thus conveniently obtains its energy via current collectors from the existing overhead line. The "single arm" current collector – for the smart an innovative and extremely light composite material made of renewable raw materials[1] – extends at the press of a button. It only needs a small number of arm poles, which greatly reduces the aerodynamic drag when the current collectors are extended and therefore considerably improves the overhead wire contact. There is then no limit to the available all-electric range within a tram network. Charging is via a flat rate in the pilot project. Other tariff models are under discussion for standard operation.

Thanks to its hybrid energy storage system, the preproduction version of the smart forrail can currently travel approximately 150 kilometres without overhead lines and cope with gradients of up to twenty percent – sufficient reserves for the special topographic features of the regional capital of Baden-Württemberg. It is charged either during the journey on electrified sections of the route or at quick-charging stations in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim or Stuttgart-Möhringen. The mains power supply and power converter are accommodated here in a substation near to the factory gates.

Training in signalling: smart Driving Academy

With the forrail, smart is exploiting the opportunities offered by the German law on electric mobility and anticipating a further planned amendment to the law in Germany. As of 2016, drivers with a class B driving licence (prior to 1999: class 3) are to be able to drive a smart forrail. The smart forrail is regarded as a trolley bus by the law as defined by section 4 of the German passenger transport act: "Trolley buses as defined by this law are electrically powered road vehicles that are not tied to rails and get their drive energy from an overhead contact line." Previously, a bus driving licence and a passenger transportation licence were needed to drive a vehicle of this type.

The new paragraph 1.4 of section 4 states that in future all that is needed to drive trolley buses with less than five seats is a two hour supplementary training session. Here, drivers learn about the technical nature of the vehicles and the electrical systems and the special technical operating features. Safety regulations, signalling and troubleshooting in rail transport also form part of the training. smart is planning to offer such training sessions in cooperation with the smart Driving Academy.

Further information about smart is available online: www.media.daimler.com and www.smart.com