2013 Fiat 500e: 108 MPGe Highway, Class-Leading Range

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It's the electric car Chrysler and Fiat don't really want to make, but that isn't to say the 2013 Fiat 500e is a half-hearted attempt.

On numbers alone, quite the opposite. Chrysler has announced the 500e's EPA efficiency figures, and both range and highway efficiency are class-leading.

Official EPA highway mileage is 108 MPGe, making it the most efficient highway electric car on sale--ahead of both the 2013 Scion iQ EV and Honda Fit EV, both of which achieve 105 MPGe highway.

That's no doubt helped by the 500e's enhanced aerodynamics, with drag reduced by 13 percent compared to the gasoline models.

The 500e's city mileage is pegged at 122 MPGe, identical to the 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, and combined mileage is 116 MPGe, just behind the Fit EV's 118. Energy consumption is 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles.

What actually is an MPGe? Ford explains

Official range is 87 miles, beating all similarly-sized EVs, as well as those from a few segments above, like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric. Over 15,000 miles, the EPA estimates annual power costs of $500--identical to the Fit and iQ EVs.

Those numbers will make the cute 500e a tempting proposition for some, particularly if the cheeky retro looks appeal. The car promises useful performance too, thanks to the 83 kW (111 horsepower) electric motor powering the front wheels.

A full charge should take around 4 hours, with its on-board 240V Level 2 charger.

Unfortunately, as one of a handful of "compliance cars" on sale in the U.S. market, the 500e will be sold in California alone. The first cars will arrive at Fiat Studios in second-quarter 2013.

With every 500e Fiat sells losing the company $10K, Fiat is simply making the best of an uncomfortable situation.


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Comments (10)
  1. It is sad, excellent range and efficiency squandered by a compliance car. And I know people who have Fiat 500s as beach cars that would do fine with the electric version. Fiat better wise up or they're going to fall behind. They've said they are going to loose money on each car which I think may not have happened if they were properly committed to the 500e instead of using it to get around the law. Cheaters never prosper.

  2. CDspeed, I don't think it's fair to call mFiat cheaters in this case. Please keep in mind that the company itself was struggling just to keep in business only 1-2 years ago and there wasn't any budget available for "what if" development like EVs. Yes, Marchionne is a very public skeptic but it's fairly natural that Fiat/Marchionne would be hesitatnt, given their strong diesel offerings and a large market share for natural gas vehicles as well.

    As the Italians have already shown with the new Ram 1500 and the Fiat 500 itself, once they make a major decision, they generally do it well and quickly. If Toyota, Honda and others aren't sold on EVs yet, I'd just give Fiat a little more time.

    But time will tell, of course, so we'll see soon.

  3. I'm really calling their compliance car cheating, it's built just to satisfy the law in California. And I think it's terrible that what sounds like an incredible electric car will not be aimed at competing on a global scale. I hope there is an overwhelming positive response to the 500e and it paves the way toward future Italian EVs.

  4. But look at the timing; when Fiat was developing this car they also were not even positive that Fiat itself would survive, hence the very limited resources deveoted to this. Despite that, they did a very good job.

    Fiat is struggling in Europe and even a serious EV advocate like me would hesitate to spend big money in development at this stage. Hey, that's what Honda, Hyundai and Toyota are doing, right?

    Longer term, I don't know about Fiat, though, since Marchionne is a very public skeptic about EVs themselves.

    If the financial side can be managed, Fiat will be among the most aggressive, I would say. But the business case hs to come first, they don't have tens of billions in cash like some rivals do.

  5. Its curious how car makers that don't believe in electric cars at all like Honda and Fiat offer EVs with better numbers and looks than "true believer" Nissan. Maybe the better numbers is to do with engineers being kept less in check by the corporate beancounters since the vehicles were only ever going to be money loosing compliance cars anyway. That doesn't excuse the Leaf's looks though.

  6. Well, I agree that "design to sell for a profit" is totally different from "design to prove a concept"....

  7. Well, both of those manufacturers have simply converted existing mass-production vehicles for EV use.

    In the end, there's only 2 EVs currently selling in any numbers. The LEAF and the Model S. Everything else is a plug-in hybrid.

    Despite it's looks, Nissan must be doing something right. It's too bad they didn't provide a minor face-lift for the 2013 LEAF - combined with the other improvements they have in store it would really put the other manufacturers farther behind.

    Hopefully Nissan also has some thermal management in store fairly quickly as well. In hot temperatures it's pretty clear that Nissan has the least durable EV battery pack in terms of capacity retention at this point in time.

  8. I guess this is where the "smaller" and more "compact" cars really shines in efficiency...

  9. Does anyone know when the pricing will be announced? or whether they will restrict it to just leases like the Honda Fit?

  10. With a month of LEAF driving experience, I'd say climate (lack of) control is a major weakness. They've made it impossible to use the fan w/o heat or a/c - so they made a known weakness even worse.

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