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LA show: Fiat unveils electric 500

Orange county: Fiat has chosen an appropriate colour scheme for the electric 500e, which will be sold in California from next year.

Zero-emission Fiat 500e expected to cost $45K when launched in California next year

19 Nov 2012

FIAT has previewed the production version of its battery-powered 500e at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles ahead of its official world public debut at the LA motor show on November 28.

It will be launched into the Californian market sometime next year.

No technical details for the zero-emission 500 – or even its 500 BEV concept forebear from the 2010 Detroit motor show – have yet been disclosed, but overseas reports suggest it will be powered by a 75kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne last year said “the economics of EVs simply don’t work”, admitting the company would lose more than $US10,000 ($A9660) on each electric vehicle sold, “despite the retail price being three times higher”.

As the Fiat 500 range starts from $US15,500 in the United States, the 500e could therefore be priced as high as $US45,000 – although Mr Marchionne previously suggested that a production version of the 500 BEV would start at $32,000, with the battery pack accounting for half of that.

As Holden has done with the Volt in Australia, Fiat appears to have attempted to offset the 500e’s premium pricing by giving it a premium interior.

36 center imageFrom top: Fiat 500e interior 2010 Fiat BEV concept.

Inside is a digital instrument panel, two-tone leather and textured fabric upholstery, climate control, heated seats and a push-button transmission mode selector similar to that fitted to automatic versions of Abarth sports models.

In addition to the striking metallic orange paintwork, the single exterior image supplied reveals a unique front bumper with contrasting white splitter and golf ball-style aerodynamic dimples, plus side skirts – again with dimpled sections – and a white roof spoiler.

The aerodynamic-looking alloy wheels are wrapped in high-performance, all-season Firestone Firehawk GT tyres rather than the low rolling-resistance items expected on this type of car.

Also expected to appear on Fiat’s LA show stand are the 500L wagon and a convertible version of the Abarth hot hatch.

Chevrolet will also debut the Spark EV at LA, increasing competition in the Californian electric light-car segment, where the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Honda Fit (Jazz) EV are already established, while the Mini E is undergoing a field trial.

There is still no sign of the 500X SUV that was teased in July and expected to appear at the Paris motor show in September but failed to materialise.

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