Although it held no formal press conference, Chrysler did display a pair of Fiat 500 models in the Motor City that spanned the entire performance spectrum of this diminutive front driver. On the "hot" side of the equation was an enthusiast-oriented 500 Abarth SS, already on sale in Europe and due here when the first Fiat product makes its U.S. debut in 2012. Championing the green forces was the experimental battery-powered 500 BEV, shown here, although its real-world status is far less certain at this time.
According to Chrysler sources, the 500 BEV is a one-off engineering exercise for now, primarily intended to assess various battery and powertrain packaging issues. It's fitted with the same modular EV drive system that Chrysler has been evaluating for the past several years in vehicles that were under development by its disbanded ENVI organization whose functions have now become part of the combined Chrysler/Fiat powertrain operation. However, while battery electric development continues, in a meeting last November that outlined its five-year plan, Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne indicated that the vehicle set to become its first volume-build EV would be a light commercial van based on the European Fiat Doblo and due in the 2011-2012 window.