The smartEQfortwo as a snow clearing and street gritting vehicle. What sounds strange at first is actually regularly used by various snow plowing services in Germany. It all started back in 2010, when snow was still moved with a conventional combustion engine smart cars.
Since winter 2020/21, all-electric smartEQfortwo have also been equipped with snow plows. There are also rear gritters to make the smart plow truck complete. Everything is Made in Germany and also has full street approval.
In this blog post I would like to take a closer look at this system, tell you how it came about and why it is used. Of course, I'm also going into how it works in connection with the smart EQ.
Thanks to all supporters:
I would especially like to mention Andreas from waldmutzel.de, who drew my attention to the Rontex GmbH. Many had already shared pictures and videos on the social media platforms. But it was him who made me aware to the fact that these are not just a few individual smarties, but rather something in small series production.
Amazed by the fact that there is a whole company behind the smart snow plow trucks, I emailed Mr. Demmler from der Rontex GmbH. He answered my questions about their products and also provided me the pictures for this blog post.
Why would you even want to use a smart as a snow plow truck?
The founder's idea (Ronny Friedrich) dates back to 2010. At that time, he himself had a winter service in the suburb of Berlin, Germany. His challenge was that the plots he had to clear were far apart from each other. With his small tractor it simply took too much time to get from one plot to the next. So a solution had to be found. The tinkerer already had experience with vehicle conversions, for example with the expansion of ambulances. He then searched for a small car with rear-wheel drive, a small turning radius, low weight and a narrow body. Only this way it was able to meet the requirements of a winter service vehicle for urban applications.
At that time the Smart 450, on which the smart ED1 is based on, was the perfect fit. In the following years, Mr. Friedrich developed the system in the summer and then tested it in the winter. Shortly afterwards he used the 451, on which the smart ED2 and ED3 are based on. With this model, he quickly gained the attention of other winter service colleagues and it did not take long for Mr. Friedrich to sell his system to his colleagues in small series. As a one-man company he quickly reached his production limits.
The current smart series started in 2016, and one year later the smart ED4. In fact, the ED4 was a bit of a challenge. The axle load of the smartEQ is more balanced than the one of the regular petrol engine smart cars, and so it happened that the front axle was potentially overloaded. Potentially because DEKRA's (German approval service) equipment could not measure accurately enough. Good friends of him, the DTM team (Mücke Motorsport), where able to create the necessary weighing report with an accuracy of 10 g. A lot of bureaucracy later, the solution for the EQ was ready and approved.
In addition, customers increasingly wanted their vehicles to be equipped with a rear gritter, which is now available since 2017. So there are now smart fortwo plowing and gritting vehicles.
Since Mr. Demmler had sold his company at the end of 2018, Mr. Friedrich asked him whether he would like to join him in order to support him and to their vision of selling the Ecoplow internationally. At the end of 2019, they founded the Rontex GmbH based in Dessau-Rosslau, Germany. The distribution of tasks was easy, Mr. Friedrich could now concentrate 100% on the development and Mr. Demmler took over the sales and marketing. In the meantime, well over 200 vehicles are on the road in Germany, Austria und Switzerland.
Pushing snow electrically - range?
The smartEQfortwo is Mr. Friedrich's project for the winter of 2020/21. A winter that came as it was called, particularly cold and snowy, it is ideal for testing the smartEQfortwo intensively. He is particularly impressed by the high torque and turning radius. The smart EQ has an even smaller turning radius than the old smart ED3 and with the electric drive train it has more torque available than the petrol versions before.
Of course, I also asked about the range. A plowing vehicle certainly doesn't have to drive long distances, but I also had no idea of how much energy it would take to plow snow. As it turns out, the range is not a big problem. The average distance for a winter service vehicle in urban areas is around 35 km, or 3 hours of use. Therefore the 17.6 kWh are easily enough and in addition, the smart ED4 with the 22 kW fast charger is easily fully charged again after the lunch break.
The clear blade and gritting system are supplied via the 12 V on-board voltage, so they don't need large amounts of energy. Especially since the plowing blade only needs electricity when it is actively driven up or down.
The result of all of this? A quiet and efficient clearing vehicle:
How does it work and what needs to be changed on the smart?
All in all, it takes a lot of experience and specialist knowledge to convert the smart as a snow plowing vehicle and then to get all the required paperwork to officially use it in Germany. But the basic principle is relatively simple:
The key to the whole undertaking is the rear-wheel drive of the smartEQfortwo. With a front-wheel drive it would be almost impossible to convert it to a clearing vehicle. The height of the dozer blade is adjusted and with its use the load is transferred to the rear wheels. In this way, the rear wheels can transfer their torque to the road and the blade can work optimally.
Incidentally, the vast majority of snow plowing smart cars are on the road are equipped with regular winter tires. This way snow of up to 15 cm can easily be handled. For particularly snowy regions, such as Austria and Switzerland, there are also special knobby tires from rally sport available. Snow chains are also occasionally being used.
The chassis itself isn't adjusted in any way, as the system is based on lightweight construction. Therefore it only weighs around 55 kg. Another advantage of the whole system is that the entire vehicle is significantly lighter than regular small tractors. Many urban areas are limited to 1.5 tons, the smart with a clear blade and spreader is easily lighter. It weighs just over a ton and the dozer blade only adds 55 kg.
Incidentally, the entire system is installed in such a way, that it can be removed with a handful of screws and the smart can also be used in summer. A 5-minute quick release and a brush-sweeping system are also planned, so switching to summer mode will be even easier.
Personally, I'm excited about the system and a bit surprised that I haven't heard of it before. All in all, I like it very much and I am convinced that we will see quite a few smartEQfortwo as clearing vehicles in the coming winters.
In my opinion, the biggest advantage of the system is that you can plow the snow almost silently and the driver even has got a comfortable snow plowing vehicle. In this way, he will probably do a better job than in a conventional snow removal tractor.
The system is installed by Mercedes workshops that have been authorized by Rontex. Depending on the equipment, it starts at € 8,990. The system is available for the smart series 451, 453 and the smart ED4. (EQ)