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Electric smarts will come to China before year-end (Photo: Daimler)

Daimler will soon start selling the new smart electric drive in China after authorities gave the carmaker the green light to start importing the small car into the world's biggest market.

The German premium car group said the electric version of the smart will go on sale in China before the end of the year.

"By bringing the smart electric drive to the Chinese market we will be the first European importer to introduce a fully electric vehicle in China," said Annette Winkler, the head of smart.

The smart electric is powered by a 55 kW electric motor that accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h in less than five seconds and provides a top speed of 125 km/h. The smart's lithium-ion battery gives the car a driving range of 145 kilometers.

Daimler produced more than 1,000 smart electric drive models in 2012 and is stepping up its output this year.