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Smartís future has no steering wheel. Image by Smart.

Smartís future has no steering wheel
Fully autonomous rent-a-Smart debuts at Frankfurt Show
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What's this then?

This is the Smart Vision EQ ForTwo concept, set to be shown at the upcoming Frankfurt motor show.

Bit of a mouthful for something small, isn't it?

Just a touch, yes, but then there's a lot to pack in here. Mind you, the EQ ForTwo is notable for what it leaves out - a steering wheel and pedals for instance. It's Merc's first hint to its future, called CASE.

What's that stand for?

It's what cars will be in the future - Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric. Electric, thanks to a 30kWh smart battery that not only powers the car but which can, on demand, supply spare power to the electricity grid at peak times. Shared because the idea is that you rent the car and then the Smart app will suggest other people in the area who are going in the same direction and who might share the cost and the journey. It's either the ultimate in networking or Tinder on four wheels.

Autonomous because there are no controls inside. You summon the car with an app (Smart says that it will become part of the Car2Go network, which already sees a car shared or rented ever 1.4 seconds) and once you're in the Smart drives itself. In fact, you don't even touch the massive 24-inch screen that takes up most of the interior. For hygiene reasons, you actually control it either with your voice, or by pairing your phone or tablet to it. There are also two smaller displays on either side for the car to communicate with you. There's also a black-panel screen on the outside, instead of a radiator grille, which alters its display depending on whether the car is occupied or not, and can be customised by the user.

And Connected - that's taken care of by the doors. How? Because they're covered with a film which can either be clear, opaque (for privacy), or can show news or weather info, depending on how the car is being used. "The smart vision EQ fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric," says smart CEO Annette Winkler. "With the smart vision EQ fortwo, we are giving a face to the themes with which Mercedes-Benz Cars describes the vision of future mobility within the CASE strategy."

"The smart vision EQ fortwo embodies the urban luxury of the future," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. "It is a radical approach with a cool and minimalist design. The show car has the hallmark smart proportions, with accentuated, pronounced wheel arches at the four corners and with no overhangs. A multiplicity of digital surfaces inside and out allows the next level of communication between human and automobile. The customer is able to personalise the vehicle according to their individual needs."

Blimey. Are they serious about all this?

Apparently so. The EQ badge is the new umbrella brand for all of Mercedes-Benz's electric car plans, and the Stuttgart firm plans to introduce ten major all-electric models between now and 2022. An all-autonomous Smart might be a bit of a leap into the dark, but it's certainly possible.

Neil Briscoe - 30 Aug 2017

2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.

2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.2017 Smart ForTwo EQ Concept. Image by Smart.    - Smart road tests
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