This crumpled looking thing is the Smart Forvision concept. Yes, it appears very much like every other Smart, but the familiar outline conceals some extremely forward thinking technology.

Developed with German chemical giant BASF, the Forvision is built to "demonstrate [Smart's] leading role in the use of technologies above and beyond the drive system."

Despite that, Smart says it has improved the electric drivetrain powering the Forvision, which is based on that in the current electric Smart but with a 20 percent range boost.

Mostly, though, the Forvision makes like a d-list celebrity and focuses on weight: the wheels are made of plastic, saving 12kg over a set of alloys, and the body is fashioned from epoxy resin, reinforced with carbon fibre. It's a material half the weight of steel.

Heat management is also a big factor, and some of the cleverest stuff is reserved for that.

The paint, for example, is designed to reflect heat, which helps keep the cabin cool without recourse to the air conditioning, saving precious battery life. The plastic shell seats are heated, which seems entirely profligate until you discover that they only warm up the most efficient contact points of the human body – the lower and middle back.

The roof consists of translucent photovoltaic cells – see through solar panels – that generate energy but keep the cabin nice and airy.

Due to hit the Frankfurt motor show (like everything else that's new at the moment), the orvision will shortly be tested on public roads, with much of its tech potentially going into the next-gen Smart Fortwo, due in 2014.