Fork-lift truck manufacturer Linde Material Handling of Aschaffenburg, together with Karabag, based in Hamburg, have converted a conventional Fiat 500 into an electric car. The Karabag 500E is a conventional Fiat 500 retrofitted with an electric drive. The vehicle has a 3-phase asynchronous motor, providing 20 kW of nominal power, and a 125V 11 kW lithium polymer battery. It can reach a top speed of 105 km/h with a range of 100 km.
The conversion components come from a Linde forklift with appropriate modifications. Linde develops and manufactures the electronics and motors for all its vehicles, producing around 50,000 inverters and 400,000 electric motors per year, and is the market leader in Europe in its performance class.
Karabag was searching for a partner to convert a conventionally powered car into an electric vehicle and approached Linde at the end of 2010. As a Fiat dealer, Karabag had already been offered a solution by an Italian supplier; however, this was found to be too expensive. The first conversion was done very pragmatically. Linde simply tried most things and changed as little as possible on the car. After four days the prototype was running. Linde was able to use existing forklift components such as the motor, inverter, controller, fuse and charging circuits, and used them essentially unchanged.
Next, came the definition of driving behaviour, the risk analysis, EMC testing and manufacturer's declaration. After nine months the project was complete.