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Bambino EV gets production tick for US

Bright spark: The battery-powered Fiat 500EV will be made by Chrysler for the US.

Chrysler to engineer and build Fiat 500EV for North America

24 Mar 2010

CHRYSLER has given the green light to an electric-powered mini car based on partner Fiat’s 500 for sale in the United States from 2012.

The new car will be engineered at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills technical centre in Michigan, using a lithium-ion battery and modular full-electric drivetrain developed for the Chrysler-Fiat group.

The vehicle will be based on the Fiat 500EV concept shown at this year’s Detroit motor show, although Chrysler appears to have left to door open for some styling changes by saying the new car “will use the Fiat 500 platform”.

It is unclear if the Mitsubishi i-MiEV competitor will make it to Australia, with Chrysler Australia’s public relations manager Jerry Stamoulis telling GoAuto that it is yet to be advised about any export plans.

“At this stage, all we know is what it is in the press release,” he said.

A conventional petrol-powered Fiat 500 is set to go into production for North America late this year in a Chrysler plant in Mexico, where the 500EV is also likely to be made.

Chrysler says the lightweight Fiat 500 is ideal for electric drivetrain integration.

36 center imageLeft: Dodge Ram.

The Chrysler-developed system allows engineers to plug together three modules – the battery, the motor drivetrain and control unit.

Chrysler Group senior vice-president engineering Scott Kunselman said the alliance with Fiat had presented new opportunities to merge Chrysler Group engineering with new platforms.

“The Fiat 500EV is an outstanding example of our efforts,” he said.

The Chrysler-Fiat EV is set to go head-to-head with dozens of similar vehicles from rival manufacturers in North America within the next three years, starting with the i-MiEV, Nissan’s Leaf and Mercedes-Benz’s Smart ForTwo EV, to name just a few.

As well, a flock of range-extender plug-in hybrids are on the launch pad, led by GM’s Chevrolet Volt and Toyota’s Plug-in Hybrid Prius.

Chrysler is also heading down the plug-in hybrid route, announcing last night a trial of 140 Dodge Ram plug-in prototypes, funded in part by a $US48 million ($A52m) grant from the US government.

The vehicles will be rolled out across the US to test the technology in different climates and geographies over three years.

The company also said it was looking at developing electric-vehicle charging infrastructure “through partnerships to be announced in the future”.

Meanwhile, Automotive News reports that Fiat will take over sales and service operations for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep in 11 European countries over the next two years, starting in Italy.

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