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2015 Fiat 500e

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The 2015 Fiat 500e Review: The 500e joins several other pure-electric cars on the road. Being a Fiat 500, though, it still has the cute, fun-to-drive qualities that have endeared it to aficionados of mini-compact European-designed cars. The little electric motor comes to life silently with the turn of an old-fashioned key. The transmission is a simple stack of four dots. Press “D” and you’re off. The 111 horsepower from the motor is enhanced by 147 lb.-ft. of torque, so the 2,980-pound car squirts off the line pretty quickly. Of course, for maximum battery charge, you need to take it easy.

Range is the biggest issue with all-electrics, and this car gets an EPA rating of 87 miles. Fiat claims you can achieve more than 100 miles range in pure city driving. I found that in city or stop-and-go driving, the range meter would barely budge for miles at a time. The brakes are good regenerators, and don’t have any of the drag that some other electrics exhibit. If you don’t use the heater, you can increase your range by about 8 miles.

The simple round instrument panel helps you maximize mileage. In the center is an image of your car, in white. At the top is your digital speed. At the bottom is the current range. To the left, a bright green curving band represents percentage of remaining charge. There’s a small digital percentage displayed too. On the right, the charge bar’s line ranges from blue at the bottom (charging) to green (eco - smart driving) to red at the top (power - active driving). You learn quickly to stay in the blue and green areas.

The Fiat 500 is fun to look at, inside and out, and has the bouncy personality of Hello Kitty. In the 500e, the steam white interior has the ambiance of an iPhone, and makes the cabin feel extra airy. There’s a mixture of retro touches from the original 1950’s design of chrome rings, and today’s TFT (thin-film transistor) instrument panel graphics.

A standard Tom Tom model plugs into the top of the dash. It supplies not only navigation, it adds details about the performance of the electric drive train. It even helps you locate charging stations.

To help counter range anxiety, the 500e comes with Fiat ePass for the first three years of ownership or lease. The plan includes up to 12 days of free use of a gasoline-powered rental car for longer trips. You can pay to upgrade to a minivan or truck. This should ease concerns in prospective buyers.

My tester wore optional Electric Orange Tri-coat Pearl paint, and with its orange door panels and stripe on the white leather seat, felt festive like in Halloween colors. It’s certainly is safer to drive a small car in a bright color.

Being a hatchback, the 500e can carry lots of gear when you drop the rear seats. Two average-sized adults can squeeze into the rear seats, but they might not want to stay any longer than the battery range allows.

Charging is easy. You get a sturdy cable with a gas-filler-shaped plug on one end and a box that plugs into the wall on the other. Plug it into the wall of your garage and stick the other end into the charger socket located behind what would be the gas filler door. Four little orange lights on the dashboard indicate the charger is working. Depending on percent of charge, it shows one, two, three, or four bars, and the lights turn off when it’s done.

I got more than 100 miles of charging range, but sadly, household 120-volt current takes up to 24 hours to fill the car from empty. If you own or lease a 500e, you need to set up a level 2 240-volt charger at home. It can fill the “tank” in less than 4 hours. The 500e does not come with a larger “quick-charge” plug, so 20-minute, 80-percent charges are not available.

My tester’s price tag was $33,495, including $500 for the orange paint and $395 for the while interior accents. Look into one of the low-cost lease deals that are offered on these cars if you plan to keep your mileage below 10,000 miles a year.

Electricity is not free, of course, but it is significantly less expensive than gasoline. You just can’t carry a spare can of it with you. The sticker says “You save $9,000 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle.”

The electric vehicle segment is still a very tiny part of the overall car market, but it’s one part of our motoring future. If you can handle the range issues, today’s small electrics are smooth, quiet, clean, and if they’re a Fiat, fun.
By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

 

The Bottom Line: The 2015 Fiat 500e is Chrysler’s contribution to the governments electric car mandate for each car company to offer a zero emission vehicle to the public. The Fiat 500 was a logical choice because of it small size, lighter weight and lower base price to start with. While no pure electric car is cheap to build right now, prices will come down as sales increase to help offset the new equipment, research and development costs.

The Fiat 500 has the bouncy personality of Hello Kitty, and the 500e model is a nice package of a zero emissions car wrapped in a fun to drive, and easy to park vehicle. This is a pure electric car that makes you feel good about the environment, and is in a price and size zone that you can live with on a daily basis. And with a brand new year, and with all the economic signs pointing positive, maybe, just for that reason alone, you should Drive one, and Buy one, Today © And remember:  “ You Are What You Drive ©”
Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net

The 2015 Fiat 500e Bottom Line Review provided by:  Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net - “Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember:  “ You Are What You Drive © ”

 

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Column Name: The Fiat 500 has the bouncy personality of Hello Kitty
Topic: The 2015 Fiat 500e
Word Count: 1,109 
Photo Caption: The 2015 Fiat 500e
Photo Credits: Fiat 500e Internet Media
Series #:  2015 - 03

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