Mercedes new electric car is ‘tongue-in-cheek’ city pickup

One of the über-efficient new cars entering the auto market in 2012 is a pickup that looks like anything but.

Mercedes’ smart for-us, set to make its debut later this month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, delivers what parent company Daimler calls a “tongue-in-cheek” translation of a pickup designed for 21st-century urban traffic.

The zero-emission, electric drive vehicle is designed to accommodate two people along with two bicycles … smart e-bikes, preferably, as the cargo area features a docking station that ensures that the bicycle batteries are always fully charged. (Daimler plans to roll out its new two-wheel bicycle with electric power assistance during the first half of 2012.)

With a look that’s “friendly but assertive” (Mercedes’ description), the smart for-us sports some unusual advanced features, including a smartphone with integrated video camera on top of the instrument panel support, instead of the conventional interior rear-view mirror. It reaches a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour (about 75 mph), and is powered by a 55-kilowatt magneto-electric motor.

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