2013 Fiat 500e is an undercover electric (pictures)

You won't find a tailpipe on the rear bumper of this adorable little Italian hatchback. That's because the Fiat 500e is fully electric.


Antuan Goodwin

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2013 Fiat 500e

At a casual glance, there's not much special to note about this Fiat 500.
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111 horsepower electric motor

Pop the hood, however and you'll find that it's powered not by an internal combustion engine, but by an electric motor.
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Grigio silver paint

Most photos of the 500e show the hatchback in its bright orange paint with white trim. Ours was a bit more subdued.
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Unique front bumper

The 500e's front bumper is unique to the EV. It can be more aerodynamic thanks to the reduced need for cooling.
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147 pound-feet of torque

The electric torque sent to the front wheels is immediate and responsive. Around town performance is zippy.
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Front-wheel drive

Power from the engine flows through a single-speed transmission to the front wheels.
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The 500e's handling isn't much different from the gasoline 500, but the acceleration is much more immediate.
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No drag racer

But before you go drag racing Abarth 500s, know that the electric motor runs out of steam at around 45 mph, resulting in less than impressive 0-60 runs.
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Aerodynamic wheels

The electric variant rolls on special aluminum wheels with a design that reduces turbulence and drag.
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Rear proximity sensors

Fiat's materials state that a rearview camera is available, but ours was not so-equipped. Instead, we made due with proximity sensors.
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Rear storage

The 500e's 24 kWh battery is below the rear storage area. Like the standard 500, the 500e features a surprising amount of interior space for a vehicle so small.
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Charging port

A full charge on a standard 110V wall outlet can take up to 8 hours. Using a 220V level 2 charger drops that time to about 5 hours.
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Power cable

The 500e comes with its own charging cable and a 12-volt air compressor and patch kit.
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The cabin

The cabin features leather seats with orange contrast striping and stitching.
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No tailpipe

The 500e has zero tailpipe emissions, well, because there's no pipe to be found.
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Like the exterior, the 500e's cabin is simple, understated, and not very different from the standard gasoline version.
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The steering wheel features orange contrasting interior panels that hint at the 500e's electric designation.
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There is no shift lever. The driver controls the 500e's single-speed transmission with a bank of buttons. There are also no special 'eco' or 'power' driving modes.
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Alpine premium audio

This car stereo wouldn't look out of place in a vehicle from the turn of the century, but it packs a fairly modern array of audio sources. It also sounds pretty good for a six-speaker setup.
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Climate controls

Climate controls are simple and thermostat controlled. Heated front seats are standard.
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The steering wheel has simple controls for the cruise control system. It also allows the driver to activate the Blue&Me voice command system to initiate a hands-free call or select an audio source.
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Digital instruments

The instrument cluster is fully digital with a circular bezel. To the right is the battery level and to the left is an efficiency meter. Up top is the digital speedometer and below is the estimated driving range.
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Trip computer

The digital instrument cluster's trip computer can display a wide range of efficiency data at the end of each trip. However, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of what these numbers mean. We just tried to keep the MPGe as high as possible.
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In charge of charging

At the touch of a button, the instrument cluster can also give the driver control over the 500e's charging behavior and scheduling.
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Navigation by TomTom

Rather than stick a big touchscreen in the dashboard, Fiat sticks a small touchscreen on the dashboard. This TomTom handles navigation duty for the 500e.
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Blue&Me integration

The TomTom is able to communicate with the 500e's Blue&Me system via Bluetooth. Note the large Car Menu icon.
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Power flow display

Via that Bluetooth connection, the TomTom is able to display real-time efficiency and energy usage data.
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Now playing

The TomTom can also display metadata for the currently playing song. There's more information here than the single-line dashboard display can show.
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Browsing audio

Normally, the Blue&Me system doesn't have a way for drivers to visually navigate the media stored on a connected iPod or USB device. The TomTom is able to fill in that role.

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