In the name of fuel economy, a mild hybrid system will come standard on all gas-powered 2009 Smart ForTwos sold in Europe.
Previously an option on the 71-hp ForTwo, the system, which Smart calls the `Micro Hybrid Drive,' is now standard on both 61- and 71-hp gasoline engines.
The MHD consists of a stop/start system, built into the vehicle's starter/generator. Once a driver touches the brakes or slows the car to less than five mph, the ForTwo's engine is shut off, leaving a battery pack to power accessories. Conversely, the system works with the ForTwo's automated-manual transmission to restart the engine and launch the car once the driver steps on the accelerator.
Smart claims the MHD helps the ForTwo return up to twenty percent better fuel economy in city driving, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 103 grams per kilometer.
Although the system is currently destined for European streets only, the system's simplicity - coupled with a renewed interest in small cars within North America - could push the system onto U.S.-spec Smarts in the near future.