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Fiat introduces 2013 Fiat 500e EV at LA Auto Show; forget the Eco button

2013 Fiat 500e. Click to enlarge.

Fiat unveiled the 2013 Fiat 500e battery-electric version of the Fiat 500 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A 24 kWh liquid-cooled/heated Li-ion battery powers an 83 kW permanent-magnet, three-phase synchronous drive motor with 147 lb-ft (200 N·m) of torque. With its e-Drive, the 500e offers more than 80 miles of estimated range, with city driving range typically greater than 100 miles. Charge time is less than 4 hour charge time with the Level 2 (240 volt) on-board charging module (OBCM).

The all-electric hatchback delivers an estimated 116 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) city and 100 MPGe highway (186 kmpge and 160 kmpge). As Chrysler Group LLC’s first road-going retail electric vehicle, the Fiat 500e eschews the addition of an “Eco” button as seen on competitive EVs. Eco-buttons deaden throttle-response in exchange for marginal range improvement, the company suggests.

Our objective was to make the full potential and excitement of the e-powertrain immediately available and apparent to 500e customers.

—Bob Lee, Vice President and Head of Engine and Electrified Propulsion Engineering - Chrysler Group LLC

Isn’t ugliness the worst pollution of all? Fiat is delivering something environmentally sexy.

—Olivier François, CMO, Fiat S.p.A., at the LAAS unveil

(François is Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Chrysler Group LLC. He also was named to the Group Executive Council (GEC) as Head of Fiat Brand and CMO for Fiat S.p.A. on 1 Sep 2011.)

2013 Fiat 500e. Click to enlarge.

In keeping with its intended sporty, fun-to-drive character, the Fiat 500e incorporates a “creep” feature, which launches the car as soon as its brake pedal is released, just like a vehicle powered by an idling engine.

The Fiat 500e also offers fingertip-control of its driveline. An array of center-stack-mounted push buttons replaces the conventional shifter and connects the driver with the single-speed gearbox.

Park is enabled by a novel parking mechanism. Powered by an electric motor attached to the single-speed gearbox, the Fiat 500e’s e-Park prawl is activated when the driver pushes the park button. This locks the gearbox in park mode, preventing movement.

When taken out of park, the gearbox enables increased torque output while allowing for lower motor input speeds, an attribute that conserves battery energy and extends range. Further benefiting the refinement, the single-speed gearbox helps maintain the correct installed axle-shaft angles of the driveline.

The 2013 Fiat 500e features a 16.3:1 steering-gear ratio to enhance responsiveness, maneuverability and performance feel. In addition, this electrified Cinquecento features an electronic power steering (EPS) calibration tuned for increased steering response and feedback. In addition, the Fiat 500e’s EPS system is designed to compensate for temporary road crown and crosswind situations where there is a constant push of the car to one side or another, assisting the driver to not have to drive against such a condition.

The Fiat 500e features 2.1-inch (54 mm) diameter single-piston front-brake calipers with larger 11.1-inch (284 mm) (up from 10.1-inch; 257 mm) diameter ventilated rotors for additional braking surface and heat dissipation. The 9.4-inch (240 mm) rear disc-brake system also features single-piston brake calipers.

The Fiat 500e’s regenerative braking controller (RBC) that receives the driver’s brake-pedal input and determines the total amount of brake power requested. Depending on input levels, the RBC is able to adjust the level of friction and regenerative braking instantly.

Battery pack. The 364V battery pack—backed by an 8-year warranty—is housed in the floor of the 500e. It serves both the eDrive motor and vehicle systems, such as HVAC and other electrical accessories tied to the 12-volt battery. Comprising 97 individual cells, the battery features a power-management system designed to monitor and adjust current, cell voltage and operating temperature.

The battery’s four-mode thermal-management system—thermal equalization, passive cooling, active cooling and active heating—maintains optimal operating temperatures, which maximizes driving range and minimizes recharging times. Charging time is less than 4 hours with its Level 2 (240-volt) on-board charging module (OBCM) and 24 hours via Level 1 (120-volt) when fully depleted. The 500e uses an SAE J1772 connector.

The system supplements passive cooling by circulating through the high-voltage battery a blend of ethylene glycol and corrosion inhibitors. This ensures consistent cell-to-cell temperature and boosts battery life.

Passive cooling occurs via the brazed aluminum radiator, which removes heat from the coolant as air enters the front of the vehicle. The radiator also provides cooling benefits for the eDrive motor and Power Inverter Module (PIM).

Subject to accelerator-pedal inputs, the PIM regulates the amount of voltage sent to the eDrive. It does so by converting the battery’s direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), which powers the drive-motor. In addition, it features an auxiliary power module, which reduces the battery’s high-voltage output to 12 volts to support the standard vehicle electrical system.

Complementing the familiar feel of the Fiat 500e’s “creep” feature, the PIM controls the eDrive and delivers the kind of accelerator-pedal feedback drivers experience with finely tuned conventional powertrains. Apply the accelerator and the car surges; release it and experience a corresponding deceleration. Apply the brakes and the PIM also plays a role. The PIM increases efficiency by using the eDrive to assist with braking.

Aerodynamics. For designers and engineers of the Fiat 500e, minimizing drag while keeping the iconic styling of the Cinquecento was critical. For the 500e to achieve a 0.311 coefficient of drag (Cd) (compared to the 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge model’s 0.359 Cd), eight exterior refinements were developed in the wind tunnel to enable the 48 count drag reduction. The result of hours of wind-tunnel testing is a design that enables this battery-electric Cinquecento to achieve an additional five miles of range.

The 2013 Fiat 500e’s eight functional exterior system improvements include:

  • Front fascia sealing
  • Aerodynamically optimized front fascia design
  • Flush profile 15-inch aluminum wheels
  • Streamlined exterior mirror caps
  • Under vehicle bellypans
  • Wind-tunnel-sculpted side sills
  • Drag reducing rear fascia design
  • Liftgate-mounted aerodynamic spoiler

Vehicle engineering. The all-new 2013 Fiat 500e features a specially engineered suspension tailored for its EV architecture and capable of highly engaging dynamics in an electric vehicle.

The suspension of the Fiat 500e is re-engineered with new increased spring rates and unique front-strut and rear-shock tuning, for optimum ride comfort and body control. In addition, Fiat 500e's 15 x 5.5-inch (front) and 15 x 6.5-inch (rear) aluminum wheels add stability at high speeds.

A new lower-body structure design provides packaging and protection for the 2013 Fiat 500e’s battery, while delivering a 10% improvement in bending stiffness.

With extensive use of advanced steels, composites and advanced computer-impact simulations, the Fiat 500e’s redesigned architecture delivers world-class torsional stiffness for optimum control of body geometry, while accommodating the 97-cell lithium ion battery. Engineers ensured that the revised underbody’s design was minimally intrusive to interior space, while providing a tighter and stiffer feel.

In addition, the design change from internal combustion to battery-electric enabled the Fiat 500e to repackage its weight for a 57/43 (compared to Fiat 500's 64/36) front-to-rear weight distribution to improve handling performance.

Stability control. The Fiat 500e features a four-channel electronic stability control (ESC) system that monitors the speed of each wheel individually. The four-channel system allows individual wheel braking for superior control and provides backup braking in the unlikely event that one of the two braking circuits would fail. The anti-lock brake (ABS) software uses a steering wheel angle sensor that allows the system to differentiate between straight-line braking and braking in a turn, resulting in better straight-line braking with minimal yaw.

ESC helps maximize driver control in all conditions by combining both engine torque and brake control to regulate wheel spin at all driving speeds. When the system senses impending wheel slip during acceleration, it signals the throttle control to reduce drive wheel torque. Under extreme situations, such as going from pavement to ice during acceleration, the system will selectively apply the brakes to maintain control. An ESC button on the center stack allows the driver to partially turn off the system.

Other features in the Fiat 500e’s ESC system include:

  • Electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
  • Electronic rollover mitigation (ERM)
  • Hill-start Assist (HSA)
  • Brake Assist

NVH. With 2013 Fiat 500e’s electric powertrain and redesigned body structure, engineers took the opportunity to develop an all-new noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) package to improve interior quietness.

In addition to the reduction in wind noise gained through the Fiat 500e’s eight exterior aero dynamic improvements, this electrified Cinquecento includes 12 product-specific improvements aiding in the vehicle’s reduction in interior cabin noise while driving. These NVH improvements include:

  • Additional mastic patches on floor
  • Additional sound-deadening material in rear quarter body cavity
  • Additional acoustic pads to wheelhouse liners
  • New gasket between the mirror flag and door
  • New mirror flag and B-pillar applique foam seals
  • Additional 8 mm acoustic pad to rear floor behind rear seats
  • New antenna with strakes
  • New carpet mass layer
  • New noise absorption pads in front doors
  • New isolated engine torque mount
  • Improved door glass belt and channel sealing
  • New acoustic windshield glass

Information display. Behind the steering wheel, an all-new 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) display provides increased functionality with more attractive and intuitively delivered information of the power gauge, driving range and state of charge. In addition, the new Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) utilizes its full-color capabilities with the use of picture graphics to illustrate vehicle functions including a trip computer, tire-pressure monitoring and vehicle status messaging system.

The available TomTom navigation pairs with the Fiat 500e’s standard BLUE&ME Handsfree Communication technology and features a 4.3-inch touchscreen display mounted on top of the instrument panel. Below its instrument panel bezel, the 2013 Fiat 500e includes an all-new electronic shifter with easy-to-use, push-button transmission mode selection.

A free PIN-protected app downloaded from the FIAT owner’s website makes trip-planning more convenient. Users can send destinations from their mobile devices directly to the Fiat 500e’s TomTom navigation system. The system will then calculate routes and visually indicate whether the destinations are in range. Charge station locations and their real-time availability also are displayed.



Wonderful. Another electric car that mimics the flaws of ICE vehicles, so their drivers will feel right at home. Ugh.

Sean Prophet

Battery cooling system. Nissan, you were warned before you released the Leaf. Now are you paying attention?


Sounds good as long as it is affordable.
No mention of price or 0-60 times.

Still, an electric town car makes sense, as long as the price is right.


"An array of center-stack-mounted push buttons replaces the conventional shifter and connects the driver with the single-speed gearbox."

What part can an array of push buttons possibly play with a one speed gearbox?

"Apply the accelerator and the car surges; release it and experience a corresponding deceleration."

What a brilliant idea; they should clearly patent this feature.


24 kW/h and still only 80 miles of estimated range? That seems low. This is a "quicky EV conversion", not a clean sheet EV design. I know that the Leaf is in the same ballpark, but it is also based on a conventional platform.

You can tell by the double-speak in the press release: "increased stiffness of the lower body" means that they attached 500kg of batteries and had to beef-up the structure. "Bigger brakes/increased spring rates" means that the car is way over its design weight.

Let's hope that Fiat's next EV effort will be less compromised.


Interesting as a first generation limited range EV.

Improved aerodynamic and much lighter body are required to fully compensate for the heavy 250-350 kg battery pack.

Removing the ICE, transmission, gas + gas tank, exhaust pipes, muffler, 12 Volt battery and other ICE associated parts should account for about half of the battery pack weight.

In the long term, improved batteries are the real answer.


"500kg of batteries"

500 pounds


When taken out of park, the gearbox enables increased torque output while allowing for lower motor input speeds, an attribute that conserves battery energy and extends range.

?????? Very confusing. How does the single speed gearbox enable greater torque, surely the job of the controller ? Unless it's meant that controller current output is limited until the parking pawl is totally removed at which point motor current is allowed to increase to its maximum. As a point of good design all controllers must have a "creep" mode to avoid the vehicle falling backwards on a hill.

OTOH killing initial acceleration to conserve energy - are they nuts ?
Generally you want a good launch from those lower speeds to compensate for the lack of raw horsepower the EV will encounter at higher speeds.

Further benefitting the refinement, the single-speed gearbox helps maintain the correct installed axle-shaft angles of the driveline.

IOW something required of any gearbox mounting on the planet.


"the gearbox enables increased torque output while allowing for lower motor input speeds, an attribute that conserves battery energy and extends range."

This could be a reference to Tesla's 9 to 1 gearbox. They might have more like a 3 to 1 which allows the motor to run at lower RPM for a given MPH. They have a PM motor, Tesla is induction.


Obviously the copywriter was under-qualified.

I give up; It's like analyzing song lyrics when "all they did was make it rhyme."


Some of the best insights can come from trying to understand ambiguity.

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