What the future holds for the Fiat 500e?

2016 Fiat 500e in red

Now that almost every other electric car got a battery upgrade, it’s time for the Fiat 500e to get its own. Let’s see the possibilities for upgrades.

 

Currently the Fiat 500e has a Bosch battery pack made with 97 Samsung SDI cells, each with 63 Ah capacity. While Fiat says that the battery capacity is 24 kWh, if we do the math the figure we get is 22,9 kWh (97 x 63 Ah x 3,75 V). Nevertheless, the Fiat 500e gets a 87 miles (140 km) EPA range, which is pretty good – for an electric car that has been available since 2013.

The 63 Ah Samsung SDI battery cell’s size is the same of the 94 Ah cells that we find in the BMW i3’s battery pack. Let’s compare these two battery cells.

 

63 Ah Samsung SDI

Capacity: 63 Ah

Voltage: 3,75 V

Watt-hour rating: 236,25 Wh

Mass: 1.880 g

Size: (125 x 173 x 45) mm

 

94 Ah Samsung SDI

Capacity: 94 Ah

Voltage: 3,7 V

Watt-hour rating: 350 Wh

Mass: 2.000 g

Size: (125 x 173 x 45) mm

 

If Fiat decides to replace the 63 Ah cells with the more recent 94 Ah the battery pack will have its capacity increased from 22,9 to 33,95 kWh (48 %). The weight will also increase, but just by 11,64 kg. With a battery capacity increase of 48 % and a insignificant weight increase we could expect the EPA range to increase from 87 to 129 miles (140 to 208 km).

 

Later down the road an even bigger increase is possible to 120 Ah battery cells. However I don’t think that Samsung SDI will make them available before late 2018. The 120 Ah battery cells would give the Fiat 500e an EPA range of roughly 164 miles (264 km), not bad for a cute and small car designed for city driving.

A more reasonable (cost-wise) and probable alternative is the change of the battery cell supplier from Samsung SDI to LG Chem, since the recently available 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is already being powered by LG Chem battery cells.

 

A battery upgrade and the addition of DC fast charging capability via CCS connector would make more sense now that Fiat says that will finally introduce an electric city car in Europe. It would be a similar upgrade with what Ford did with the Focus Electric.

 

What do you think? How long will it take for Fiat upgrade its electric car and extend its availability beyond Oregon and California?

 

 

More info:

https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/danger/publi/adr/Other_notif/13-0085-Bosch_Battery_Systems_F.pdf

http://studiobilar.is/gogn/Fiat/fiat_500e_baeklingur.pdf

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. This car would be an instant hit in Europe, even with the ~24kWh!
    FCA, please wake up 🙂

  2. 🙂 that’s right. And the reason I bought one. It’s to good to sell😉

  3. Forget it in Europe.. it’s just another compliance car only sold in California 8-[

  4. Pedro, I think the battery of Fiat 500e is a 97s3p of 22Ah cells.
    See this reference: http://articles.sae.org/11604/

    291 * 22 Ah * 3,75 V = 24007,5 Wh = 24 kWh.

    For the BMS, it may look like 97 cell groups. But actually I guesss they are 3p of 22Ah (VDA PHEV1 like BMW or VDA PHEV2 like VW). Those smaller cells also would make it easier to fill this rather complicated custom underbody battery pack of 500e.

    It would be nice if all your technical claims on ‘as is’ battery structure would be verified with a disassembled 500e battery pack, otherwise this article would cause more confusion than do anything positive for 500e owners.

    You’re definitely right in one respect however: whatever the cell format is, Fiat could have upgraded the battery capacity already.

    1. Hi Ralf, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Fiat clearly states from the beginning that the Fiat 500e has 97 battery cells. If you check the Bosch report, you see that the biggest capacity used is 63 Ah: https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/danger/publi/adr/Other_notif/13-0085-Bosch_Battery_Systems_F.pdf

      However, Samsung SDI does have battery cells with 68 Ah and 3,65 V… this would make the battery pack 24 kWh (97 X 68 Ah x 3,65 V).

      http://www.samsungsdi.com/upload/ess_brochure/Samsung%20SDI%20brochure_EN.pdf

      Nevertheless we agree that it’s time to upgrade the battery.

      1. From the Fiat 500e Operation and Diagnosis manual:
        High-voltage battery system specifications includes:
        * Nominal voltage – 366 volts
        * Peak voltage – 399 volts
        * Nominal amp hour capacity – 63 Ah
        * Watt hour capacity – 22.2 kWh
        * 97 individual, prismatic style, lithium-ion cells connected in series.

      2. Great information, thanks for sharing it!

  5. I love my 500e but of course it would be even better with more range at the same cost & weight (or just a bit more range at even less weight for even better performance, safety & cost). However in America an e500x with competitive range would sell much better. According to autonews, FCA is for sale & the most likely buyer is Chinese, which would probably speed up the release of even better eFiats like these.

  6. When the current battery finally dies and needs to be changed out and replaced would the dealer replace it with the newer higher capacity battery? If so what do you think it would cost? Would they also change the charging port connector so that a DC quick charge could be used?

    Thank you.

    1. This comment above is meant for the current Fiat 500e 2013-

    2. Unfortunately I doubt it, since Fiat treats the 500e as a compliance electric car and clearly doesn’t want to sell much or support it.

  7. Some old comments to this thread noted the 500e would be a hit in Europe. I was just in Amsterdam and saw 2 500e’s hooked up to charging stations while I was taking a canal tour! I own an off lease 500e where I live in Minnesota and it is a great snow car when shod with snow tires!

  8. Will it be possible to just swap the cell’s if a used i3 did come up? Wil the electronic from the old cell’s fit and will not the car protest that the new battery is not cooled down.

  9. Does anyone know of any possible options to upgrade the battery in a 2016 Fiat 500e? I’m in California and you would think that someone with the electronic knowhow could make the battery swap at least up to the 129 Mile range mentioned above.Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  10. I own a 2016 Fiat 500e. Does anyone know how long batteries will last? Years? Miles?
    Cost to replace batteries?

  11. It’s really only a matter of time (and investment) before an aftermarket starts providing rebuilt or aftermarket upgrade battery packs–someone already does it it for the Nissan Leaf. Were enough 500E’s produced to make it worth while? Anyone with most basic working knowledge of electronics could do this. The firm I work for has even considered it as ‘fluff work’, we all have backgrounds in applied physics and electronics.

    Anyone have a used battery pack they’d like to volunteer for a tear down and inspection?

  12. One more thing to add. My recent decision to acquire a now used and very cheap Nissan Leaf or Fiat 500e has made me investigate replacement batteries.

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