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.
Nobody seems to get the point that if this is "a learning exercise" for Chrysler engineers, then how many potential customers will pay good money to become a guinea pig or lab rat? I vividly remember the "second generation" Fiat 500 Nuovo from the late '50s. A truly wretched tiny car (actually an enclosed motorcycle, 2-seater with 1.5 HP 2-cylinder air-cooled engine complete with a cable clutch). Topped out at 59mph with a strong tailwind and a 100 lb. driver!
If the Chrysler chief's statement "It's an electric vehicle that doesn't act like an electric appliance" is true, how come the controls look like those of a blender?
"retro-futuristic design"? Does a picture of George Jetson come standard, or is that an option? Holy cow.
My son just came from the LA auto show yesterday with camera pics of cars like a stunning new Lexus electric and the sexy BMW i8 hybrid. And Chrysler introduces this? I'm underwhelmed. I've seen cuter zits on a hog. The Fiat 500 itself looks like someone did a poor job of photoshopping the BMW Mini. Then they brag about time in a wind tunnel... What direction did the wind blow, I wonder?
Unless the car's price tag is going to be somewhere around free, I'll pass. We've already got an electric skateboard.
GT, I think you've pegged it. At least for now, the 500e appears to be a compliance car. It is also most likely a learning excercise. A necessary, but unprofitable step on the road to the future. I doubt they expect to sell more than a handful of cars. Perhaps a totally new EV design is in the works at Fiat.
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