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The Fiat 500 Goes Electric...And Underwhelms

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On: Mon, May 14, 2012 at 12:58PM | By: Chris Weiss


The Fiat 500 Goes Electric...And Underwhelms

We have the Fiat 500; the 500 L is on its way; and the 500 X is possible. However, we haven't heard much recent news on the 500 E - at least not from Fiat. The minicar makes so much sense as the lightweight home of an all-electric powertrain, one German company had to build it before Fiat.

Hamburg-based electric vehicle manufacturer and Fiat commercial vehicle supplier Karabag has equipped a 500 with a small lithium-polymer-powered drivetrain that puts out 37 hp. The motor has an unusual source: a Linde electric forklift. With a 62-mile range and 65 mph top speed, the car isn't all that practical for anything other than city driving. Since it's a German endeavor, though, we anticipate that European city centers are exactly what it was built for.

While the car is an interesting project, it doesn't have much promise as a commercial success. The retail price of 35,000 euros (about $46K) is more than double the price of the gas 500 and well over the price of better equipped production electric cars. We can't see too many people paying extra for less performance unless they're simply in love with the idea of an electric 500. Karabag claims that its leasing price of 299 euros ($387) is comparable to other gas cars, but that still looks pretty expensive from our US-based vantage point.

Fiat - actually Chrysler - is currently working on its own electric 500. Fiat has indicated production could begin later this year. That model should have more power, more range and hopefully less price than the Karabag version.

If you're interested in a slickly animated version of what we just explained, check out the video below.




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