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One Fiat 500 + electric forklift motor = Fiat 500 E


May 11, 2012

The converted Fiat 500 trades its gas engine for an electric forklift motor

The converted Fiat 500 trades its gas engine for an electric forklift motor

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While we wait for the official Fiat 500 electric - a car that makes all kinds of sense given the 500's small, fuel efficient build - two German manufacturers have teamed up to give us an alternative. The 500 E from Karabag and Linde trades its gas engine for an electric forklift motor.

Karabag is a Hamburg-based manufacturer that offers a variety of aftermarket-equipped electric vehicles. Linde Hydraulics doesn't manufacture automobiles, but it brings an expertise in electric drive components from products like tractors and forklifts. It's the latter that motivates the 500 E, specifically a 28 kW (37 hp) electric motor pulled out of Linde's forklift fleet. Linde also supplies accompanying equipment like a converter and control unit.

The result of the partnership is an EV that's modest (to be polite) in every way imaginable ... except price. With its underwhelming 37 horses, the 500 E travels up to 62 miles (100 km) and hits speeds up to 65 mph (105 km/h). So, it's hardly fast enough to take on your local interstate and will be lucky to make it three towns over and back.

The 500 E is described as a city car, so we can excuse the short range and low speed. Harder to digest is Karabag's insistence that it's an affordable alternative to a gas vehicle. The purchase price for the 500 E is €34,999 (about US$45,000), which is well over the price of other EVs with greater range and speed capabilities. So not only is it not comparable to gas vehicles (the regular 500 is listed at around 12,000 euros on Fiat's German site), but it's not even all that comparable to electrics.

Where Karabag works to massage a comparison is in its €299 ($390) lease price. That doesn't seem all that cheap at first, but after Karabag factors in the lowered cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance, and a few other tricks, its numbers come up about 50 euros in favor of the 500 E. It seems like quite a stretch to us, but actual consumers will make the final decision.

These issues aside, we always like to see aftermarket companies filling the void of electric vehicles by equipping existing models with electric motors. For a more capable (but still expensive) example, take a look at the AMP Jeep Grand Cherokee we covered earlier this year. You can also see the 500 E in a little more detail in the below video.

Source: Karabag (German) via Autoblog Green

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

the Fiat 500 is a CHEAP little runabout.The prices they are quoting for an E Fiat is a joke.


equals ? no . linde just got a contract on killing the fiat500e image well before its' launch . weak , short legged , expensive . that's the message they have to show us - and gizmag is helping them . I remember the day the fiat 500 got five stars in a euro NCAP crash test protecting even the children at the back - the headlines were : you have no chance in a fiat 500 - they arranged a test collision on the same day with an audi q7 - with predictable results . german propaganda weapons - no moral , no ethics .

Károly Hőss

Massively over priced, under preforming, and given line loss, inefficiency of charging batteries, the short life of batteries, how fast batteries self discharge, and how much energy that goes into manufacturing batteries no reason to believe that electric cars use less energy than ICE cars of the same size performance and much greater range.


I would be almost willing to bet some clever person out there could buy a regular gas version of a Fiat 500, tear out the motor put in their own electrics and make it go faster have a longer range and STILL come in under that $45 grand! What is it about every single one of these electric cars that makes them so bloody expensive? I must be missing something?


This is really a non-entity. It's only niche would be in the inexpensive segment and it's been priced higher than better equipped purpose designed electrics. Can't really think of 1 good thing to say about an effort like this. If they sell even 1 I'd ask about the sanity of the driver and the safety of having him/her on the road!

Max Kennedy

35 hp should be the continuous run rate for the motor. The peak horse power may be as much as five times that at about 175 hp for short bursts. Do not underestimate the torq and launch speeds of under rated electrics. What they really need to work on is the range. And yeah, that price is a joke.

Ronald Cooper

for $6,000 less you can drive a Chevy Volt that goes 35 miles electric-only, and then goes another 500 miles on a full tank of gas at 40MPG highway. And you probably have enough money left over to buy a forklift.

Bob Humbly
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