Fiat 500e – Chrysler's all-electric vehicle debuts in L.A.


November 30, 2012

Fiat revealed the 500e at the 2012 LA Auto Show

Fiat revealed the 500e at the 2012 LA Auto Show

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GM has the Volt and the Spark, Ford has the Focus Electric, and now Chrysler has the Fiat 500e. The first all-electric car from the third member of the Detroit Big Three made its debut this week at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show. The diminutive electric promises to be one of the cleanest cars on North American roads, though it won't be available to many North Americans.

Fiat believes its new electric car effectively combines zero local emissions driving and "iconic Italian design." The 500e is powered by a 111-hp (83 kW) electric motor and floor-mounted 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provide up to 80 miles (129 km) of range (100 miles/161 km in the city), 147 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 85 mph (137 km/h). Fiat estimates that the 500e will boast 108 mpg-e combined, making it one of the most efficient cars on the road.

An electric minicar may never be the equivalent of a V8 sports car when it comes to driving excitement, but Fiat thinks the car will be more fun to drive than competitors.

"Other EVs are benign and lifeless until the accelerator is pressed," the company explains in a press release. "In keeping with its sporty, fun-to-drive character, the Fiat 500e incorporates a “creep” feature, which launches the car smoothly and assuredly as soon as its brake pedal is released, just like a vehicle powered by an idling engine."

The battery pack will take less than four hours to charge with a 240-volt Level 2 charger or about 24 hours with a 120-volt charger.

In addition to trading gas for battery power, Fiat made several other changes from the base 500. It designed a new chassis and suspension around the electric powertrain to improve driving dynamics. A series of aerodynamic enhancements, such as re-sculpted front and rear fascias and the rear spoiler, went through more than 140 hours of wind-tunnel testing to cut drag and eke out 5 extra miles (8 km) of range.

Inside, Fiat designed what it calls a "retro-futuristic" look. Electric Orange highlights bring the Nero black or Steam white interior to life, while a 7-inch TFT instrument cluster and available TomTom navigation system keep the driver apprised of vehicle and road information. An all-new push-button electronic shifter sits below the instrument panel.

Like any good electric vehicle, the Fiat 500e will have an accompanying smartphone app. The app, which will be available for both Apple and Android phones, will manage charging, provide real-time vehicle status, track energy usage, find the vehicle and nearby charging stations, plan and send routes to the vehicle, and provide text-message alerts.

The 2013 500e will hit the Californian market in the second quarter of next year. Fiat has admitted to the media in the past that it really didn't want to build the car but did so to meet California's zero emissions vehicle mandate. So it only plans to sell the model in the Golden State upon launch and will be loath to expand that availability since it anticipates losing money on every model sold.

In addition to the 500e, Gizmag was on hand at the LA Auto Show to check out the all-new 500L. Get better acquainted with that model here.

Source: Chrysler/Fiat

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

They started with the advantage of a known stylish design. The fact that they really didn't want to build the car will probably be the the main reason they fail where other car companies will succeed.

The Hoff

it's another set of wheels in an overcrowded and small niche market that won't be viable for ages. good luck anyway


It would be funny if customers from other states bought them in CA for use elsewhere en mass. I find it irritating when large companies release these electric vehicles to such a small niche market that they are almost the same as vaporware.

I guess this is one Kansan who will be traveling to Cali for their next car...


A decent city car to be sure, but 24 hours on a 120V charger???? Let's hope the areo improvements find their way to the 500.

Bruce H. Anderson

YuraG, are you referring to the millions of people who commute less than 60 miles and have a second family car for longer trips?

Norm Rhett

Why is it no major car manufacturers tell us what the curb weight or drag is? Is it because they haven't figured out these two fundamentals are the most important aspects of an efficient platform? Or do they know but are embarrassed by their failure to address them?

Aptera had no problem building an efficient platform. So it is technologically possible. Why is it ignored? Range could be doubled while we wait for a better battery. Then the new improved battery could be retrofitted. Am I missing something?

Don Duncan

Chrysler seem proud of the implementation of the creep feature. Creep is essentially a defect inherent in the design of the automatic transmission in a gasoline vehicle. They could probably 'eke' out some more range if they abandoned this energy consuming feature. They might also do better to have smoother wheels, cameras instead of drag inducing wing mirrors and to block up the holes in the front of the car. I wonder how heavy it is?


Isn't it a bit of a misnomer to refer to Chrysler as "the third member of the Detroit Big Three", when nearly 60% of the company is owned by Fiat? Seems to me the article properly written would say, "GM has the Volt and the Spark, Ford has the Focus Electric, and now Fiat has the Fiat 500e." Just sayin'

Bob Strong

Chrysler's electric? You mean Fiat's,right? The owner of Chrysler

Santiago Pérez
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