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Click above for a high-res gallery of the Rinspeed E2

The mad Wissenschaftlers at Rinspeed have come up with a dual-mode Fiat 500 Abarth that gets you more power and better gas mileage – just not at the same time. Rinspeed started with the 500 Abarth that has a standard 135 horsepower, and they've given it a new engine management system that has one mode for the city and one for the highway.

In "Commuting" mode the has use of up to 60 hp, which is forty fewer horses than the bog standard petrol 500, but you'll be rewarded with almost 59 miles-per-gallon. Press a button on the console to go to "Highway" mode and you get 160 hp, which is the same hp number for the 500 Abarth SS, but it costs you a tad of frugality at 33 mpg. There aren't many ways we could think of to make the 500 better, but this trick could be one of them. You can read the press release after the jump, and check out the high-res gallery below.


[Source: Rinspeed]

PRESS RELEASE

E2: 60 or 160 hp at the Push of a Button from Swiss Automotive Powerhouse Rinspeed

Zumikon, Switzerland - What is this? It is round, small and cuddly, has eyes to fall in love with, a sexy behind - and on demand 60 or 160 hp as necessary. It is Rinspeed's answer to the fast changing requirements of the market and sociopolitical perception about the tuning industry.' Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht hits the nail on the head: "Just like the auto industry has to adjust to the demands of a new era, tuners have to look for new ways to do business as well." The Swiss automobile visionary Rinderknecht, who has his roots in the tuning business, observes a change in people's attitude, at least in the western world: "We need an intelligent use of our fossil resources, especially of our energy".

Rinspeed's creation is based on the Abarth version of the Fiat 500. Its name 'E2' signals the fact that the nimble little Italian car is equipped with two different power levels: The 60-hp 'Commuting' level is more than sufficient to move along with city traffic while saving energy. In this mode the 'E2' consumes just some four liters of fuel per 100 kilometers. Outside the city, the 'Highway' mode provides driving fun and added power for fast and safe passing. In 'Highway' mode the engine produces 160 lively horsepower and transforms the Italian flea into a venerable hornet. Fuel consumption in 'Highway' mode is in the neighborhood of seven liters per 100 kilometers. The energy management system of the 'E2' is controlled by a small button in the cockpit that affects the engine electronics.

Rinderknecht believes he is on the right path with his new interpretation of automobile customizing. With the 'E2' and his concept car 'iChange,' which is much further removed from production, he wants to nudge the automotive as well as the tuning industries in a new direction, to leave well trodden paths and creatively look for new ones: "I don't believe too much in eco tuning. Many drivers are not willing to miss out on driving fun and don't want to drive a something that announces to the world that they do without. But the number of people who want to use our energy supply responsibly not in the least because they want to protect our environment will grow quickly."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 19 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think neutralgear makes a good point - are people really going to do this? Or will they just drive around in one or the other all the time? My guess is that they'll just choose one and stick to it. Still...it's a pretty cool idea.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well, I think someone who goes out of their way to buy this car over a standard one would use the Fun or Green Button.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The beauty of software. From Dr. Jeykle to Mr. Hyde and back again in a flick of a switch. You know, if they ever manufacture camless engines, with pnuematic or magnetic valve control, then with infinite valve timing, with the addition of fuel and ignition timing, they should be able to improve on these numbers.

      A car that one minute exhausts a minimum of pollution and wastes little fuel to a sports car. Nice.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Multiair is throttle-less, but not camless. Fiat mentions an electrohydraulic system between the camshaft and the valve allowing them to control lift electronically, but they specifically mention it having a camshaft.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Very true. Silly of me. But the very flexible valve control is expected to improve both performance and economy greatly, and combined with direct injection should move both performance and emissions along nicely.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't understand how this is possible. Why does changing an engine chip do anything different than merely not pushing the pedal down? It's not like it can reduce pumping losses, internal friction/rotating mass loss, or various inefficiencies like gears meshing and radiators flat out sending energy into the air.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Easy - less boost. It's obviously having the turbo wastegate dump boost at 0 PSI to make only 60HP. So every less lb of boost = 1 less lb of fuel. Then, because its now a low compression engine, they can further lean out the fuel delivery, to get even more gas milage

        These are two things you can do with a modern turbo engine to get better milage like this.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If you don't drop the pedal, the car doesn't produce boost. There's no point in producing boost just to pile it up behind the throttle plate.

        Also, turbos do not affect the compression ratio of an engine. The air that comes in still gets squeezed X:1, it's just that more air comes in.

        You cannot lean out the mixture just because you have lower compression. It produces knocking and NOx problems. The idea of lowering the fuel mixture is what HCCI is about, and this is not going to become an HCCI engine just by changing the ECU.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yum. Me likey!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Awesome! A 500 that gets good fuel-milage and also good performance! I want one of those too. Nice looking paint too.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Um... this is badass!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Probably like a tuning box. Econo mode and Fast mode! I can't wait to see one! With the 3rd kid on the way I guess i will have to wait 18 years till I get one. booo.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What if GM married Chrysler and they had an Abarth??

      Just sayin'
      • 6 Years Ago
      That is pretty cool. Rinspeed came out with a very practical application for the 500.

        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree it's a very cool application. But i don't think it's for this car. I see the 500 Abarth as a very fast little city car. I mean I can get to work faster with this than a Ferrari, because it's little very fast and agile.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Not just the 500, what`s stopping its application in all cars? They could make a boatload of cash licensing this technology. They could call it the Variable Performance module, or something to that effect. Or even V.V.D (virtual variable displacement).
      • 6 Years Ago
      For this to work it has to automatically kick in. Most people don't even use cruise control, even though it'll save them gas because they don't want to or are too lazy to press the button when they're on the highway.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually, manually keeping your speed nets you a marginally better fuel economy, especially on uneven roads: A regular driver, logically, lets the car gain speed downhill (which doesn't necessitate more power) in order to save a bit of fuel on the coming uphill section - whereas a cruise-control system would keep at at a steady speed no matter what, missing out on potential savings.
        • 6 Years Ago
        yeah, which is why I said on highways.
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