Fiat is displaying the new Fiat 500e electric vehicle (EV) at this year's Detroit Auto Show. The Fiat 500e promises to be the first affordable EV built with an emphasis on being fun to drive, which is the true essence of what an Italian car is all about.
One of the design goals was to do no harm to the Fiat 500's fun to drive character. Indeed, the Fiat engineers enhanced the Fiat 500e's driving dynamics, due to more equalized weight distribution, staggered wheel widths and careful suspension tweaks. The substantial increase in engine torque - 147 lbs-ft of instantaneous torque compared with the gasoline 500's 98 lbs-ft rating - also plays a large part. Drivers of the 500e all report the car is a blast to drive, with a number of Fiat executives choosing a 500e as their personal company car.
The Fiat 500e displayed was in Electrico Arancione (electric orange), however, the 500e is also available in Argento (silver), Grigio (gray), Bianco Perla (pearl white) and Nero (black) and with a black dot matrix design replacing the white colored one.
The 500e is built on the Lounge version of the Fiat 500 and is well equipped. Note the rear park sensors.
The rear spoiler on the Fiat 500e is unique, and is the result of some of the 140 hours of wind tunnel refinement given to the car.
The black "Pedal" designs are inserts and improve aerodynamics. These are in contrasting colors when the eSport trim package is selected. The Fiat 500e wheel widths are staggered (15x5.5 in the front and 15x6.5in the rear) for enhanced stability, balance and cornering power.
The mirror caps on the Fiat 500e are unique. Notice the sharp edge moulded in and compare that with the mirror cap of the standard Fiat 500. This subtle change improves the aerodynamics and also wind noise. Details like this add up to a 13 percent reduction in aerodynamic drag 0.311 Cd compared to a 500 Lounge model's 0.359 Cd. This is significant because the the Fiat 500 is already an aerodynamic efficient car despite being fairly tall.
Standard mirror cap on a Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth. Notice the rather smooth shape contrasts to the harder edge in the 500e's mirror cap. Don't be surprised if you see this design incorporated into newer 500 models going forward.
Even the roof mounted antenna of the Fiat 500e benefited from additional aerodynamic and noise refinement. This spiral design reduces wind noise and vibration.
The standard Fiat 500 roof mounted antenna used in all models. The new spiral design will replace this design in the near future.
Front fascia/bumper of the Fiat 500e was carefully shaped for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. The lower spoiler is as low as possible and still maintain acceptable approach angles.
The Fiat 500e door's have improved window seals, new noise absorption pads and mirror flag gaskets to enhance the quietness of the new model.
The two tone door panel breaks up the monochromatic look of the standard Fiat 500. Given some patience, this is a modification that can be done to any Fiat 500. Read this article to see how I modified mine. Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth Door Panel Mod
White interior with a splash of color is eye catching and cheerful. There is also a dark interior trim package. A new acoustic windshield, carpet mass layer and additional 8mm acoustic pad added to trunk area are part of a revised noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) package.
The only difference in the interior dimensions of the Fiat 500e is the rear seat passenger footwell has been raised 100mm to help accommodate the battery pack.
An interesting detail in the trunk is this pull cord for "fuel" filler door release. This keeps prying eyes from tampering with the car's power receptacle. By the way, the locking fuel filler door has been standard equipment on all Fiat 500s sold in South America.
The engineers working on the Fiat 500e sweated all the details. This raised part on the dashboard is a charging indicator. Unlike some EV's whose charge indicator is only on one side of the car, the Fiat 500e's is easily visible from any angle.
This is the lithium-ion battery pack for the Fiat 500e. The 24 kWh hour liquid-cooled/heated 97 cell lithium-ion battery pack weighs 600 lbs and is bolted underneath the rear seat area of the Fiat 500e. The location of the battery pack gives the 500e a weight distribution advantage over the standard Fiat 500 (57/43 compared to Fiat 500’s 64/36). The more equalized weight distribution helps improve handling performance.
Another look at the battery pack of the 500e. The body shell of the Fiat 500e has been re-engineered to be 10 percent stiffer than the gasoline powered car. The rear suspension uses the reinforced axle beam borrowed from the Fiat 500 Abarth. The front suspension of the 500 Abarth is also used, as are the upgraded Abarth braking system. An interesting detail is there having been a creep feature built into the car, which comes in handy during slow moving traffic or when parking; and unlike some EVs, the 500e doesn't freewheel when driving down hills, further enhancing the cars drivability. All this adds up to a car that is enjoyable to drive and feels like a "real" car and not the disconnected "golf cart" like experience typical of electric cars.