FIAT's 100-MPG MultiAir Hybrid: Nothing But Hot Air

After about six years of big announcements about hybrid and electric cars from Chrysler, the company has delivered nearly zero gas-electric vehicles. Way back in 2004, Dodge was promising a Ram hybrid pickup. That never materialized. In 2008, hybrid versions of the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen full-size SUVs were killed just two months after production began. (We reported about 100 sales of the Chrysler hybrids over three months.)

Those hybrids were canceled one month after Chrysler executives unveiled a set of “production intent” electric cars on live national television. Not a single one of those models, such as the Dodge Circuit, will see the light of day.

Prospects for a hybrid or electric car from Chrysler became even slimmer after FIAT took control of the company. In November 2009, FIAT canceled Chrysler’s vapor-ish ENVI program—the in-house start-up intended to develop alternative drivetrains.

Fast forward nine months: FIAT is now reportedly working on a hybrid version of its FIAT 500 TwinAir minicar. The TwinAir 900cc two-cylinder motor, combined with a hybrid system and FIAT’s dual clutch transmission, is expected to deliver 100 miles per gallon.

FIAT’s MultiAir system uses electro-hydraulic control of the inlet valves, rather than a conventional camshaft, to manage the amount of air entering the engine. This allows more precise management of combustion, reducing fuel consumption.

A 100-MPG FIAT minicar would be cool, but should we believe it will ever happen?


  • moishe k

    http://www.coolthings.com/fiat-500s-twinair-update/

    Who cares just bring it over as is 56 mpg w/o hybrid

  • JamesDavis

    Fiat has always had a good reputation. I loved my Fiat 380 Spider I had in 1974. Maybe they can get Chrysler out of their lying mode and come out with a real electric or hybrid that will actually benefit the American people and help save our environment.

  • a1lawng

    Hope it happens. I rented a Fiat in Ireland a few years ago and loved it. Seemed solid, was roomy for a small car, and I think they’d do well here. If they can hit 100 mpg in the US, they’ll force the other manufacturers to do better…which will never happen unless there starts to be real competition based on mpg. I’m so tired of seeing car commercials talking about their 28mpg cars that are so fuel-efficient.

  • TK

    Hybrids are a waste. They cost too much carbon to produce and don’t make up for it with highly exceptional fuel mileage. If you did proper research before writing this article, you would have seen the Fiat 500 BEV which was shown in Detroit and NY this year. It is an all electric version using some of that Chrysler electric technology. If they actually build it or not, we’ll see. If the Fiat gets 40+ mpg using gasoline with no hybrid this is a good step forward!
    http://www.motorauthority.com/blog/1041258_2010-detroit-auto-show-fiat-500-bev

  • Greg Loring

    In the early 70′s I owned a Fiat 850 Sport Spyder – touted as the Poor Man’s Sports Car. And that it was! Quick, fun to drive, comfortable room for two and their luggage. But the best part was that fully packed for a trip this car still got better than 45 MPG average. And this was in the days of carbs and no other “advanced” technology. A simple, high RPM, small (901cc was the largest version) engine with a dual-throat carb and tuned exhaust was connected to a 4-speed transaxle. All of this in the rear of the car.

    Why can’t the car makers use all of the today’s advanced designs in a small (less than 1liter) engine, apply to a light weight, aerodynamic small car, and achieve 100 MPG?

    Kudos to Fiat!!

    I’d sure consider buying one!!

  • UlisseDB

    Speaking about the Fiat hybrids, the technology double clutch with electric motor between has been borrowed by a patent that Fiat Company has never wanted to purchase, but only shamelessly to copy. I invite to visit my blog where her “vitality” of the Fiat planners it appears in all of evidence:
    http://dualsymbioticelectromechanicalengine.blogspot.com/

    Whoever appreciates an honest industrial ethics in defence of intellectual ownership should spread out my blog. If the industries can afford unpunished to copy the ideas and defending it need very expensive causes, to which target need the patents? How our young people (especially in Italy) can find intellectual courage if the economic potentates crush the rights of the single ones?

    Ulisse Di Bartolomei

  • Harris

    I completely agree with MoisheK! I mean, love the fact that it’s eco friendly and all that jazz! but just the looks of this car is awesome and with a new hi-tech engine in Fiat 500 Twin air! Super fantastic!