Even with the continuous evolution of the Fiat 500 and all the subsequent iterations it has had this year, the model is about to welcome another member to the family: the 500e.
With the standard 500, the 500C and the 500L already making their debuts in their respective niches, the 500e is set to fill the vacant electric-power niche in the 500 lineup. It will make its own debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.
With the launch of the all-electric Fiat 500e, environmentalists can now drive the iconic Italian car without a guilty conscience. With an impressive range of 116 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) city and 100 MPGe highway, it aims to electrify the gasoline-powered 500 series.
The all electric Fiat 500e has been unveiled at the 2012 LA Auto Show. Being the first electric-powered Italian in the North American market, Fiat has confirmed that it will arrive in California Studios during the second quarter of 2013.
So, is the Fiat 500e an alternative worth considering among the 500 series, or is it too early to adopt this electric (and expensive) offering? Find out in our review of the Fiat 500e.
Exterior and Interior
The Fiat 500e is little more than a 500 running on electricity. Unlike other EVs, like the awkwardly designed Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Fiat 500e retains the classic 500 styling that we all know and either love or hate.
To achieve a whisper-quiet interior, you need not only a super-quiet motor, but also smooth airflow up and over the car. For this purpose, Fiat has installed eight extra enhancements to achieve a 13 percent improvement in aerodynamics -- 0.311 coefficient of drag (Cd) compared to the 2013 Fiat 500Lounge’s 0.359 Cd.
Fiat installed a 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) instrument cluster that displays full-color picture graphics, as well as various vehicle functions, charge levels and trip summary. Also added in is a new navigation system that enables the driver to view the vehicle’s charge schedule, range and power-flow gauges. The navigation system can even request nearby charging stations with real-time availability.
Power and Range
The Fiat 500e’s electric powertrain produces 111 horsepower and recharges in less than four hours. The 500e has an estimated range of 87 miles, but Fiat also claims that it can travel over 100 miles in the city on a single charge.
Also added into the mix is a completely revised suspension system to accommodate the EV powertrain and give it ideal handling characteristics.
Initially, the Fiat 500e will only be available in California starting in the summer of 2013 (we’re sure this will expand over time). It will come in at a high-for-a-Fiat-500 $32,500 ($700 delivery charge included), but incentives from the federal and state government, plus Fiat rebates, drag it down to as low as $20,500 in California.
Additionally, Fiat will offer California residents the opportunity to lease the 500e for just $199 per month after $999 down for 36 months.
Along with the 500e, you also get the 500e Pass Program, which allows you to exchange your electric-powered 500 for a gas-powered 500, 500L, Dodge Dart or a Chrysler 200 for up to twelve days per year through the first three years of ownership, free of charge. The replacement cars are available at any Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car or National Car Rental location.
The 500e is contested by the recently announced Chevrolet Spark EV and the Nissan Leaf.
The Chevrolet Spark EV, like the Fiat 500e, was also launched at the L.A Auto Show. Where the 500e showcases European styling and appeal, the Spark produces greater electric power at an affordable price.
The Nissan Leaf has been on the market for quite some time, so buyers can expect prices to be high and refinement to be low. It’s also reported that the Nissan Leaf takes an estimated thirteen hours to recharge its batteries, which may pose too great an inconvenience for all but the most stalwart environmentalists.