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PHOTO CAPTION: Fiat 500e officially debuted at 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show

The Story Behind the Fiat 500e Electric Car

Chrysler engineers had to convince Sergio Machionne to use the Fiat 500e as the platform for their first production electric car, writes Nicholas Zart.

Published: 04-Dec-2012

These days, almost any who’s who of the automobile world has to have some sort of electric car, EV, a plug-in hybrid, PHEV in the works or at the very least, a hybrid. strangely neither Chrysler, not Fiat have hybrids, at least here in the US. So Fiat’s unveiling of the 500e, its first electric car is a splash in the pond, bypassing the habitual hybrid first, then PHEV then finally an EV. Fiat decided to come out with an electric car before it worked with simple hybrids. But why?

Dodge EV And Chrysler ENVI. In order to understand why Fiat went ahead with such an audacious project, we need to go back in time, back to 2008. This is the year of extinction, if you recall all car manufacturers were caught with their pants down without any real vehicles customers wanted to buy in the middle of this recession. In fact, they had been more active throughout the past few decades suing states that imposed tougher fuel efficiencies. Instead, they continued their merry way giving us heavier and heavier cars with engines that tried to do the impossible, give horsepower on as little fuel as they could.

Back in 2008 Dodge had a nice little prototype they were working on with the ENVI team. The car was no less than a Lotus Europa with an electric battery pack and motor. Sounds familiar? The Tesla Roadster is also based on the Lotus platform but was reworked a lot more. Although the cars were similar on paper, they were also very different. The Tesla is lighter with less horsepower, the Dodge EV was heavier with more power. Unfortunately, we never saw both of them raced together although there were splendid videos on YouTube showing the Dodge EV virtually smoking Chrysler’s best of the breed, a Viper from a standstill. Unfortunately, nothing ever happened and Dodge spiraled down as Chrysler tried to find its way out of insolvency.

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