FIAT shows electric version of its iconic 500

Electric Fiat 500

Electric Fiat 500DETROIT — A battery-electric version of the iconic Fiat 500 is expected to appear on Chrysler’s stand at the upcoming 2010 Detroit Auto Show.

Fiat used the 2010 Detroit International Motor Show to reveal an all-electric version of its award-winning Fiat 500.

Already one of the most economical and low emission vehicles on the road, the Fiat 500 BEV goes one step further, but one that with its four seats and clever controls is as practical as it is easy to use. Fiat says that the 500 BEV is a technology test bed for future models and is keeping as quiet as an electric car about what exactly that advanced technology is.

The British magazine AutoExpress says it will have more than 5,000 small lithium-ion cells, giving it up to 150 miles on a charge (better than the Mini E’s 100-mile range).  Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is quoted as about 10 seconds; with a top speed of 90 mph. Recharging from empty could exceed 10 hours, though that time would fall by half with a U.S. 220-Volt dryer circuit.

The 500 EV will be part of a display that includes the 500C convertible and the 500 Abarth, according to Automotive News.

Fiat plans to begin selling the 500 in North America in late 2010 or early 2011, and will build the car at Chrysler’s Toluca plant in Mexico.

Bloomberg reported that the Chrysler display also will include a Chrysler version of the Lancia Delta hatchback.

Fiat HQ in Turin has not issued any details on specs on the Fiat 500 BEV, beyond saying that it is a concept model right now.

However, Wired’s Chuck Squatriglia confirmed that, “this isn’t some slick shell on a tube frame” and that “there’s a real motor under the hood, a real battery under the floor and all the interior bits you’d expect of a production car. We’re not sure why, but it’s even got five-point racing harnesses. Seriously.”

Fiat says that the 500 BEV was developed in partnership with Chrysler’s former ENVI group, which previously created electric versions of the Chrysler Town & Country and Jeep Patriot.

As Leftlane previewed earlier, the 500 BEV is said to be exceedingly quick and efficient for an electric vehicle, besting the Mini E in terms of both outright acceleration and overall range.

Of course, it’s just a concept, and there’s no word on whether it will ever see production. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

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