After showing a prototype version at the Detroit Auto Show in January, the Chrysler Group LLC today announced that it will engineer and develop a new Fiat 500EV for the American market. Production of its first zero-emissions vehicle will commence in 2012, when it will be sold along side of the other gasoline-powered Fiat 500 models. Under the Fiat reorganization plan implemented last year, the Auburn Hills, Michigan, operation was named as the vehicle electrification center of competence for both the Chrysler Group and the Fiat Group. In addition to its responsibilities for creating the Fiat 500EV package, the plan calls for the company to explore new ways to promote zero-emission transportation in general and to help develop an electric-vehicle charging infrastructure using various partnerships to be announced at some point in the future.
"The alliance with Fiat presented new opportunities to merge Chrysler Group engineering knowledge with new platforms and the Fiat 500EV is an outstanding example of our efforts," said Scott Kunselman, senior vice president Engineering-Chrysler Group LLC. "The Fiat 500 is a small, lightweight platform perfect for integrating electric-vehicle technology."
Although all powertain development for the new Fiat 500EV will be done at the Chrysler Group's U.S. headquarters, the automaker provided few technical details about the car. It did confirm that the powertrain will consist of three main elements, a high-power electric power module, a computerized EV controller and an advanced Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery that is expected to give the car a range in excess of 100 miles. While pricing for the Fiat 500EV is still being finalized, word is that it will be "competitive with similar electric vehicles in the market."
In a related development, the Chrysler Group was also named as a recipient of a $48-million funding grant, courtesy of the $2.4-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act DOE Vehicle Electrification program. That money will be used to help underwrite the production of 140 Ram PHEV (plug-in hybrid vehicle) pickup trucks to be used in a three-year demonstration project encompassing various geographic locations and climatic conditions across the country. The PHEV upgrade, which will match the Ram's 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and Two-Mode hybrid transmission with a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery sourced from Electrovaya, is expected to help improve the truck's overall fuel economy by over 65 percent and allow it to run for up to 20 miles on pure EV power.