Chrysler Group LLC took a small step in the direction of
electrification this week, rolling out a battery-powered,
mini-compact hatchback. The Fiat 500e is the first electric vehicle
introduced by Chrysler since the company discontinued production of
the Dodge EPIC minivan (which was sold only to fleets) in 1999, and
the first electric production car in its 87-year history.
"It's an electric vehicle that doesn't act like an electric
appliance," said Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer of
Chrysler LLC and Fiat Automobiles, during the vehicle's streamed
introduction from the Los Angeles Auto Show. "It brings beauty to
the world of electric vehicles -- Italian design, legendary
heritage, and an electric powerplant."
The new Fiat will feature an all-electric driving range of 80
miles, along with an estimated 108MPGe (miles per gallon
equivalent) fuel efficiency. Powered by a 111hp permanent magnet
electric motor, the vehicle will hit a top speed of 85mph. Its
24kWh lithium-ion battery is similar in capacity to that of the
well-known Nissan Leaf electric car, and it can be charged in
approximately four hours at 240V. The liquid-cooled battery pack
and the electric motor are supplied by Bosch Automotive.
Chrysler said the vehicle will be sold only in California for
now, but added that it is not a so-called "compliance car," aimed
at satisfying the requirements of California's zero-emission
vehicle (ZEV) mandate. "Obviously, there is a mandate," Chrysler
spokesman Jiyan Cadiz told Design News. "But for us, it's more
important than that. It's the first time we're doing an electric
vehicle, so it's our chance to gain competency and show that we
can do it." Cadiz added that the vehicle program gives Chrysler
engineers an opportunity to develop expertise in EV batteries and
Up until this week's introduction of the Fiat 500e, Chrysler
executives have publicly resisted any suggestion of widespread
electrification of the company's vehicle line. "I'm not scared, I
just won't do it," said Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, referring
to electrification, in an interview with Automobile Magazine in July 2012.
"I just will not do it. I think we're smoking illegal materials if
we think we're going to make those [profitably]. It just won't
here to read the full story and see the slideshow.