With only a 1.4-liter engine and a relatively low purchase price, the regular 2012 Fiat 500 isn't what you might call an expensive car.

German electric vehicle maker Karabag thinks it can make the little Fiat even cheaper though, and has installed an electric drivetrain into the car to prove it.

It's not the first electric 500 we've seen, but with only 37 horsepower from its electric motor and an 11 kWh battery with 62 miles of range, the project is less ambitious than previous attempts.

That motor has humble beginnings, coming from a forklift truck made by Linde Materials Handling. While Linde is not known for its electric production cars, it has plenty of electric vehicle experience, having built over 3.5 million electric drives in its 40-year history.

Top speed is only 65 miles per hour, but the company is focusing more on running costs and durability, than it is performance.

Initial cost is relatively high, like many electric cars--34,999 euros, or around $46,000--but Karabag says the lease price and low cost of electricity make it cheaper to run than the equivalent gasoline 500.

Leasing starts at 299 euros ($393) per month, and total monthly cost would work out around 370 euros ($482). A regular Fiat 500, says Karabag, would be the equivalent of $537 per month, based on German prices.

Even so, we suspect the Karabag 500 E will be an acquired taste, with many electric vehicles already on the market that are cheaper to buy, yet with greater performance and range.

For a small proportion of individuals an electric 500 might make sense, but the crossover between a regular, cheap-to-buy gasoline-powered 500 and a dedicated electric car like the Nissan Leaf is a narrow one.


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