2013 Fiat 500e

By January 3, 2013
2013 Fiat 500e
On Sale: Spring 2013
Expected Pricing: About $35,000

Add Fiat to the list of automakers jumping on the electric vehicle bandwagon. The electrified retro subcompact was revealed at the November 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show, but Fiat is rolling out the 500e begrudgingly. The car was not designed to satiate clamoring consumer demands, but, rather, to satisfy strict California emissions requirements for automakers. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne says each car will be a $10,000 loss for his company.

Still, it's a compelling little car for city dwellers seeking a chic alternative to uglier EVs like the Smart Electric Drive and Chevrolet Spark. New front and rear bumpers set the 500e apart from its gasoline-powered twin, as do revised side mirrors, a retuned suspension, unique 15-inch wheels with low-rolling resistance tires and a more aerodynamic rear spoiler. Additional aero enhancements help to reduce drag and increase range.

Under the hood, the little four-cylinder is replaced with an electric motor good for 111 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque. Not surprisingly, the 500e's bundle of lithium-ion batteries adds a lot of weight (a whopping 600 pounds, to be exact). But despite its heftiness, the 500e is expected to go from 0-60 mph in about 9 seconds. That's lethargic acceleration performance, but it's about 3 seconds faster than the gas-powered version.

Fiat claims the 500e will go somewhere between 80-100 miles on a single charge. Charging time is expected to be about four hours with a 240-volt charger, or a painful 22 hours using a regular household 110-volt outlet.

In the cabin, a new 7-inch TFT touchscreen with navigation displays EV functions such as range and charge data. Interior colors are available in Nero or Steam, both with bright orange accent trim.

The Fiat 500e will roll into California dealerships sometime in the second quarter of 2013. Pricing hasn't been announced, but we guess it will hover around the $35,000 mark, before any federal or state tax incentives. Fiat execs say they're still deciding if or when it will be available in other states.

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