Fiat 500 Abarth

Fiat 500 Abarth

Revealing two new cars and then not saying a word about them--that's going to be Chryslers approach to the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. Or at least that's what the word on the digital street says is going to happen.

The second car is an electric version of the Fiat 500, while we're already expecting the other to be a Lancia Delta hatchback in Chrysler guise. Either model is likely to stir some discussion, so it's interesting that Fiat and Chrysler have opted to do it without a press conference of any kind planned. Wondering what an electric Fiat 500 might look or perform like? The Micro-Vett was built in 2008: 60 mph top speed, 70-mile range and 6-8 hours recharge time. GreenCarReports editor-in-chief John Voelcker actually did a nice write-up on the Micro-Vett and the potential for an electric Chrysler-branded Fiat 500 back in October, so check out his wrap-up for even more detail.

Even if the electric Fiat 500 is shown next month, don't expect to see it on U.S. streets any time soon. It will almost certainly be little more than a proof of concept vehicle, as the first Fiat 500 to make it to the U.S. has already been confirmed as the EV's near-polar opposite: the 500 Abarth version. With its peppy 160-horsepower output from a 1.4-liter turbo four, it'll be a great ambassador for speed, but it won't make it here until late 2010 or early 2011. The rest of the Fiat 500 lineup, most of which we'll get here, including the Fiat 500C cabrio, will also be on display in Detroit.

The Delta-based hatchback, meanwhile, is thought to be intended for U.S. consumption, but Chrysler's Gualberto Ranieri told Automotive News that the company would have no new production vehicles on display. Chrysler needs to fill in its midsize and small car lineup badly, and borrowing from Fiat's library of options is how it is expected to do it.

When the Fiat 500 does finally come to the U.S., it won't be a European import, however--it will be assembled in Toluca, Mexico, while the 1.4-liter Multiair engine that powers it will likely be built at a revamped plant in Michigan.

[Detroit Free Press, Automotive News]