From an article by Rick Barrett in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

An all-electric version of the Daimler-Benz Smart car has come to Milwaukee, with a limited number of vehicles available for lease starting in October.

The Smart Fortwo electric is the same size as the two-seater Smart car that’s powered by a gasoline engine.

With a standard 220-volt appliance line, you could charge the Smart electric’s lithium-ion batteries to full capacity in eight hours and drive about 80 miles before the battery pack had to be recharged.

Don’t expect neck-snapping performance. The top speed is 62 miles per hour, but the car has a “kick down” mode similar to a passing gear when you floor the gas pedal of a regular automobile.

The Smart electric uses a 30-kilowatt electric motor that generates the equivalent of about 42-horsepower, compared with a 70-horse power gasoline engine in a regular Smart car that uses premium gas and has a top speed of about 90 mph.

Made in France, the Smart electric will make its U.S. debut this fall. Only 250 vehicles will be available, nationwide, for a lease of $599 per month for 48 months. The price takes into account a $7,500 tax credit, which will go to Smart.

Starting in 2012, Daimler-Benz expects to mass produce Smart electrics for sale and lease. The vehicle’s price has not yet been determined, said Derek Kaufman, vice president of business development for Smart USA.

The initial lease program would be too expensive for many consumers. But some early-technology adopters want these cars, Kaufman said, and businesses are likely to lease them to make an eco-friendly statement.

The price will come down in 2012, according to Kaufman.