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Fiat 500EV – and 5.7-litre Ram hybrid pick-up

Fiat 500EV

Chrysler has showcased a number of electric concept vehicles in the past but this time they say that the electric Fiat 500 will actually make it into production.

However there are no plans for the UK, and it will be two years before it appears. The Fiat 500EV is a result of the Chrysler and Fiat alliance, and Chrysler will manufacture it for the United States market from 2012.

Already shown earlier this year at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, the 500EV comes with a lithium ion battery. Chrysler says that pricing will be announced closer to launch, but will be competitive with similar electric vehicles in the market.

Last year Chrysler announced the company’s intention to build the Fiat 500 with a combustion engine for North America. The vehicle will debut in late 2010.

At the other end of the scale, and more in keeping with the company’s heritage, it will be creating a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) version of its 5.7-litre HEMI V8 Ram pick-up truck.

Chrysler has been selected for a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant of up to $48 million as part of a $2.4 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Vehicle Electrification programme.

The company is planning to build a total of 140 Ram PHEVs for a three-year demonstration project over various locations across the United States. More than 21 organisations including utility companies, government agencies and Universities will independently test the Ram PHEV and provide feedback.

The company claims that PHEV technology will improve fuel economy up to 65 percent with up to a 20 mile electric-only driving range. However improving the current fuel consumption of around 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway shouldn’t be difficult. With a two-mode hybrid transmission and a 12KwHr lithium ion battery, the vehicle is said to be capable of up to 20 miles of electric range.

Interestingly, the company says that in 2008 it announced the intention to bring a Ram Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) to market but after closely evaluating the response to hybrid pickups in the marketplace, the company could not formulate an appropriate business case and has decided to cancel development work on the 2011 Ram HEV.