Different Roads 
Fiat Multipla. 1998.
Fiat Multipla. 1998.
Courtesy Fiat
Select image for enlarged view.

As suggested by its name, the Multipla is an auto that provides for a tremendous flexibility both in terms of choice of power sources and in the configuration of the interior space. Despite its small exterior, the Multipla has the cabin room of a minivan or station wagon and is intended as a family car, large enough for six passengers. It is unusually tall, and the windows have a vertical emphasis that permits a better view as well as an enhanced sense of spaciousness. The night visibility is improved by headlights and taillights that are placed at different heights along the chassis. For safety considerations the auto is engineered in two parts: a lower section containing the engine and drivetrain, and tall upper section for passengers and cargo. In an accident, this lower section of the car bears the brunt of the impact, with the higher riding passengers remaining protected.

The Multipla included in this exhibition is a bipower-engine type that uses regular gasoline or methane or both. The Multipla will soon be available in Europe with a diesel engine, and as a hybrid, with both electric motor and gasoline engine. Methane fuel produces no benzene or particle emissions and reduces carbon dioxide emission by twenty-five percent. The same engine runs on both fuels with two separate tanks and separate routing systems. The driver can switch between methane and gasoline, but the car also does it automatically in cold starts or when the methane has run out.



© 1999  The Museum of Modern Art, New York