Charles... this ease/safety of charging is always at the top of my list as to why the average American driver will not be going big in the near future on anything that requires a plug-in to be cost and fuel efficient.
This is the infrastructure that will take longest and be the most expensive to put in place too by my accounting.
Current PEV charging technology is not going to lead to the same quick pull into Wawa for coffee and be fully charged by the time I get to the cashier as is the case with petroleum, but it does need to become convenient... and at least a little forgiving of those 'I forgot to fill up/charge' moments (what ever that means, the tow truck gas can replaced by a small rental battery pack I guess).
I wasn't comparing the actual cars! Just pointing out the fact that (as another poster said just before you) Fiat doesn't exactly have an illustrious history in North America. I've owned a lot of quirky cars (including TWO different Renaults in the '50s/'60s time frame, a Dauphine and an R10)) but never a Fiat after my experience with that 500 my buddy had. Don't forget, some of the worst cars of the Soviet era were licensed versions of Fiats (Lada, Trabant, etc.). The whole point of most of this discussion is whether Fiat intended this car to just satisfy the CA bureaucrats that it fulfills the zero-emission mandate, or if they really expect to sell a bunch. MY point is that if they intended the latter, they are out of touch with the marketplace, just like GM and the Volt. Even if you just buy/license technology from your competition, it takes a huge investment to bring one of these to fruition. As a niche vehicle instead of a mass-market one, it just doesn't make sense.
Quite a few people decided to be guineapigs for the EV1. Not enough for GM to turn a profit from them, but more than enough for a learning exercise. I'm not sure why you're comparing the current Fiat 500 to the one from the '50s. It's like comparing the current Beetle to the original Type 1 with the 1100cc engine. They are very different cars. The fist generation Prius was tiny and slow compared to the later more successful cars. If I were to judge the current Prius by the original, I would say they aren't worth driving.
I knew a guy who collected Ford Edsel wrecks. I used to be fond of Corvairs. What does that tell you about "taste"? Beautiful sophisticated women may not have a problem with cars that rust out in 2-3 years, like my old Fiat Spring (something like an 850cc motor as I recall) that looked cute, rather like a mini-MG, but couldn't get up a steep hill from a dead stop, and at 3 years old had a rusted-out floorboard. But I don't let supermodels pick out my cars- they don't have to fix them. History will, as always, judge, but Fiat does not seem to have an especially good track record in this country.
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