All-Electric Fiat Debuts at LA Auto Show

By · November 29, 2012

Fiat 500E

The Fiat 500e has the specs and looks to stand out among the increasingly crowded segment of electric subcompacts

Fiat yesterday unveiled an all-electric version of its iconic 500 subcompact at the LA Auto Show. The 500e, every bit as cute as the gas-powered Fiat 500, will use a 24 kilowatt-hour liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, providing an estimated 80 miles of range under typical driving conditions. Fiat claims that range jumps to 100 miles if used solely for city driving. The electric 500 is expected to deliver an estimated 116 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in the city and 100 MPGe highway.

Power is delivered via a 111-horsepower 83-kilowatt electric motor. The 500e can be full recharged—from depleted to completely full—in about 4 hours when using 240v through its on-board 6.6-kilowatt charger.

The exterior design of the 500e features unique 15-inch alloy wheels, new exterior color options (including “electric orange”), aerodynamic enhancements and an available eSport package with blacked-out trim and other sporty touches. On the inside, the 500E gets a 7-inch display and optional TomTom navigation (with locations to nearby charging stations). Fiat is also offering a smartphone app unique to the 500e.

It appears that Fiat is aiming for familiarity and accessibility, evidenced by the company employing a "creep" feature that launches the car as soon as the brake pedal is released, just like a vehicle powered by an idling engine.

The 2013 Fiat 500E is widely considered a “compliance” vehicle that will be manufactured solely to meet California's zero-emissions vehicle mandate. It goes on sale, only in California, sometime in 2013.

Fiat has not yet announced the 500e's price. GM recently announced that the somewhat comparable Chevy Spark EV will retail for $32,500. Fiat’s pricing is expected to be in the same neighborhood. The segment of electric subcompacts, which includes the Mitsubishi i and Smart Electric Drive, has until now not proven very popular. But Fiat 500e brings a new level of pizzazz and charisma to the small EV market.


· · 5 years ago

Ah, vorrei che questo simpatico piccola vettura elettrica stava
per essere disponibile in tutti i cinquanta Stati e non solo in California.

· Brian Stringfellow (not verified) · 5 years ago

What he said

· · 5 years ago

Goodbye Smart 2 seater? I guess we'll have to wait for the price.

· drbrender (not verified) · 5 years ago

MPGe is bullshit. It should be calculated in CPM - cost per mile driven. Electric costs around 1/10 the cost of gasoline.

· Spec (not verified) · 5 years ago

@drbender, yes it would be great to compare on per mile costs. But the problem is that gas prices and electricity prices vary HUGELY depending on where you are and over time.

Driving on electric costs around 1/5th to 1/2 the cost of gas from my experience with gas prices & electricity rates. If you compare a low MPG vehicle in a place with high gas prices to an EV using cheap off-peak electricity from a time-of-use metering tariff, you can get to 1/10th the price but that is generally not a very fair comparison.

· Spec (not verified) · 5 years ago

What is with these cars only being available in California. Yes, I know California is the ZEV state that is the source of the ZEV system. But there are like 10 other states that follow California's ZEV rule. Do they phase it in a few years later such that it doesn't apply in those other ZEV states yet?

· Iletric (not verified) · 5 years ago

The range! The range! We already have Leaf to get 70 miles freeway. Plus the fix-it-again-tony baggage, I don't know if I even look at that thing. Now if it had a range of 100 miles, then we can talk about Fiat excitement here. Too bad.

Cost of electric driving is about 1/4 of the gas cost in SF Bay Area courtesy PG&E. Then there are the variables, such as fluctuating gas prices and summer vs. winter juice. And I am talking about nighttime charging here.

· · 5 years ago

I would jump all over this if it was available in the Mid-Atlantic region. Smaller and more compact than the LEAF and it has a faster onboard charger which is a big plus. Atleast make them available in TN, we can atleast fly there and lilly pad charge stations back to the D.C. metro area from there.

Looks like a cool car overall, probabbly sell better than the LEAF, but im satisfied for the most part already.

· SVL (not verified) · 5 years ago

I'm seriously considering buying a Renault Zoe, but since this comes in in the same category, it also is an option, if it is available in Europe in time. Although I like the idea of leasing the battery, as Renault offers.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

I don't understand how a car half the size of the Leaf with the same sized battery pack only has 10 miles more of range....It's simple physics.

· Chris C. (not verified) · 5 years ago

Again with this hostility to the creep feature. SOME PEOPLE LIKE IT. AN EV THAT CREEPS IS NOT INHERITING A FLAW OF REGULAR CARS. Ideally the automakers should make it *configurable* so that the owner can turn it on or off (like Tesla did, eventually) thus demonstrating yet another great feature of EV drivetains -- their configurability!

I know many (including Tom M.) are vocally against creep. Ya know what? I'm vocally for it! I consider it a safety feature, because it forces me to keep my foot on the brake. Others like it because it reminds you that you are in gear (e.g. in reverse). It's great for slowly moving traffic, especially when you have your accelerator set to sport mode and it's very touchy .... And on and on.

So make it configurable, and shaddup already. :)

· · 5 years ago

"I don't understand how a car half the size of the Leaf with the same sized battery pack only has 10 miles more of range....It's simple physics."

Some of it might be due to aerodynamics, Anon. This article, by coincidence, talks about the sort of compromises present in both the Chevy Spark and Fiat 500 (albeit, the gasoline versions, but . . . ) compared to slightly larger - and, more importantly, longer - cars . . .

· · 5 years ago

Benjamin, I think it does have a lot to do with aerodynamic drag; but the reasons for the drag stated by the article you linked to are not correct.

They say the angle of the windshield is what is causing the drag - it is in fact the *back* of any car that creates most of the drag. The reason that smaller cars (often) have higher drag is the top and sides (and underside to a lesser extent) are not tapered at the correct angle, and they are not long enough to get the air flowing smoothly back together behind the car. In fairness the article does mention the length as an issue.

Taper on the sides can reduce drag by as much as 40%. We only need to look at the EV1 for evidence of this. It had a Cd of 0.20 (the oft quoted 0.19 was probably without side mirrors or was for the Impact concept), and that is the lowest drag production car ever.

The front of a vehicle only needs to be rounded and smooth (blunt is actually a good thing) and have joints sealed up and have minimal intake vents. Smooth and flat wheel covers help a lot. A smooth and flat underside also is important. Here's an example (from 1938!) of a car that has even lower drag than the EV1 - called the Schlörwagen (aka Göttinger Ei or "Pillbug") with a Cd of just 0.18:


· · 5 years ago

I want to pull back a bit on my criticism of the article -- they cover some of the same things I mention, so it comes down to emphasis. The back is where most of the drag is created; and the length to height/width ratio and the angles of the sides and top are the things that affect the shape drag. The detail drag like the angle of the windshield is secondary.


· · 5 years ago

Thanks, Neil. This is your forte' and I was guessing you'd want to comment on this. I knew that the PM overview would gloss over a lot of details and didn't address things like rear body taper and wheel skirts, but be basically correct in regards to short/squat vehicles being less aerodynamically efficient than lower/longer ones.

That Schlorwagen is marvelous! I still hope that Mitsubishi makes a production version of their iMiev Sport Air concept, as it looks more slippery than most . . .

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