Smart EQ ForFour running costs

Smart EQ ForFour running costs are most likely to stack up for business users

With only two models in the Smart EQ ForFour range, less than £1,000 separates entry-level and range-topping cars, and some of that pays for the more powerful 22kWh charger that not everyone will want.

From November 2018, the UK Government's plug-in car grant drops from £4,500 to £3,500, and although the Smart EQ ForFour qualifies for the full grant, the effective £1,000 price increase this brings means every model will cost over £18,000 to the end user. Even with the fuel savings represented by a full battery charge costing less than £3, a private buyer might struggle to save money overall compared to running a small petrol car, although London-based Smart EQ drivers will enjoy exemption from the capital's congestion charge, and there's no annual road tax to pay, either.

Most versions of the EQ ForFour still cost a little less to buy than a Renault ZOE, though, and you'll have to sign up for battery lease if you choose the latter. Purchase price is likely to be more of a concern to private owners than business owners, and the latter can enjoy the rock-bottom 13% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax rating that all electric cars bring.

Smart EQ ForFour insurance group

The Smart EQ ForFour is rated in insurance group 11 irrespective of trim level or options fitted. That should make it markedly less expensive to insure than the Renault ZOE, which runs from insurance groups 16 to 19. It's worth seeking an insurance quote before you make a decision to buy, though, as personal circumstances can affect insurance costs just as much as insurance group ratings.

Warranty

All Smarts sold in the UK have a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, as well as 12 years of cover against corrosion. Additionally, the battery has a separate eight-year warranty, but this has a mileage limit of 62,500 miles.

Servicing

Your Smart EQ ForFour will require an annual visit to a Smart workshop, which can set up a service contract to make it easier to keep track of scheduled maintenance costs. Service contracts can either be paid for on a monthly basis, or in a single up-front payment. An advantage is that it renders you immune to any cost increases that might occur during the duration of your contract.

Road tax

As a zero-emissions car, the Smart EQ ForFour is exempt from vehicle excise duty.

Depreciation

Used car valuation experts suggest a three-year-old, 36,000-mile Smart EQ ForFour will have a residual value of around 35%. Bear in mind that this is based on the car's on-the-road cost, without taking the plug-in grant into account. This means that you'll actually get a slightly larger proportion of the figure you paid back when you come to sell.

The Volkswagen e-up! suffers similar depreciation, but both cars handily beat the Renault ZOE. It can be worth as little as 22% where the battery is included with the car, or 29% when the battery is leased at extra cost. It's difficult to evaluate how much bearing residual values have on real-world Smart EQ values, however, until used examples are more abundantly available both within and outside the approved used Smart dealer network.