The smog was so bad in Hong Kong last month that “people with heart or respiratory illnesses (were) advised to reduce physical and outdoor activities,” according to Radio Television Hong Kong.

Daimler AG is looking to help ease matters by bringing a trial version of its smart electric car (which won't be produced until next year) to the city, according to Bloomberg. The German car manufacturer has partnered with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, and four other HK-based organizations to provide two-seater smart cars in a trial that will last six to 12 months, as part of a bigger four-year trial for the EV.

There are currently 300 charging stations for the 170 electric vehicles in Hong Kong, but the plan is to increase the number of stations to 1,000 in the next year. Nissan and Mitsubishi are also pushing “to introduce electric vehicles in Hong Kong,” Bloomberg reports, “where pollution reached ‘very high’ levels on a record one in four days in 2010.”

“A combination of electric vehicles and cleaner energy is a very good recipe for Hong Kong to become a greener city,” Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s environment secretary, told Bloomberg.

The other four partners to Daimler in the trial of the car that can currently travel 84 miles on a full charge are CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd., Jardine Airport Services Ltd., Yan Chai Hospital, and Hongkong Electric Co.

Separately, the New York Times notes that Daimler just unveiled a new smart-branded concept car — the Forvision — at the Frankfurt Auto Show to put its competitors (notably, BMW and its BMWi sub-brand), on notice:

For all its, well, shortcomings, the smart car has often been an ambitious workshop for forward-thinking automotive design. The Forvision concept, scheduled to have its debut in Frankfurt this month, appears to be a message from Daimler, smart’s parent, to BMW and its “i” subbrand: two can play at this city-car-of-tomorrow game.

The concept’s exterior paint was developed by BASF, the chemical engineering company, with the goal of reflecting and reducing heat within the cockpit by up to four degrees Celsius on a hot day. BASF describes the concept car in a press release:

(Forvision) combines futuristic design with innovative technologies in the areas of energy efficiency, lightweight design and temperature management. Researchers and developers from both companies have succeeded in combining a total of five auto world premieres in the smart forvision. Transparent organic solar cells, transparent organic light-emitting diodes, all-plastic wheels, new lightweight body components and infrared-reflective films and coatings lower energy consumption, in this way enhancing the car’s driving range and comfort.

[Image at top: Daimler's 2008 smart campaign in Hong Kong, via]