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Fiat to expand electric car sales into Oregon

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(Read caption) Fiat's 500e battery-powered car is now sold in California, and it's anticipated that a summer rollout in Oregon is part of a plan to sell the cars in other states.

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Depending on where you live, there may be certain electric cars that aren't available at your local dealer.

For buyers outside California, that's been the case with the Fiat 500e--but it will soon become available in a second state.

Speaking to WardsAuto at the 2014 New York Auto Show, Fiat's U.S. chief Jason Stoicevich said the 500e plug-in car will go on sale in Oregon this summer.

Stoicevich didn't specifically say when the 500e will arrive in Oregon, how many Fiat dealers will offer it, or how many units the Italian automaker expects to sell.

The 500e won't sell in large volumes, though. As a compliance car built primarily to satisfy California's zero-emission vehicle mandate, it was never intended to be a mass-market item.

When it first launched the 500e, Fiat said it had a three-part rollout plan, with California its first destination, followed by a second phase that presumably includes other states that use California's emissions standards, and a final third phase that would widen distribution even further.

Expansion of sales to Oregon would appear to indicate the start of the second phase, but Fiat hasn't mentioned any other states.

Based on the top 500 Lounge trim level, the 500e is powered by an 83-kilowatt (111-horsepower) electric motor and 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

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Official range is 87 miles--a class-leading figure for small electric cars--and a full charge from a 240-volt Level 2 source takes about 4 hours.

Despite its performance and chic retro looks, Fiat has not been shy about the fact that it doesn't want to build the 500e, in part because it loses money on every one it makes.

For now, though, Fiat's loss is Oregon's gain.

The 500e is actually the second compliance car that's made it across California's northern border; the other is the similarly-sized Chevrolet Spark EV.

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