Electric Fiat 500 to launch at Geneva 2020

An electric Fiat 500 city car, the 500e, will be launched at the Geneva motor show in 2020, the firm has confirmed. 

While revealing the new Panda-inspired Centoventi concept at this year’s Geneva show, the Italian firm revealed the planned launch for the next-generation 500. The model will be a key part of Fiat’s transformation in Europe into a brand focusing on small electrified city cars.

The new 500 will be joined by a 500 Giardiniera estate, although the firm didn’t say if that would also appear at next year’s Geneva show.

Ahead of the 500e arriving, a mild hybrid variant of the 500 is due to launch later this year.

The aim is to consolidate the brand’s dominance of the city car segment – the 500 and Panda hold a third of this market – while developing technologies that allow these models to satisfy emission regulations. 

This focus also means other, less successful Fiat models will be axed. These include the Punto – axed after a 13-year production run – and, while unconfirmed, the Tipo. 

The reinvention of the 500 was announced at an FCA Group financial conference in mid-2018. The company said that it wanted to “leverage the iconic status and technology of the 500” into a full line-up of small electrified models, which would include the 500 Giardiniera.

The firm added that it would be “very well-placed to exploit battery-electric city car opportunities in jurisdictions where access for internal combustion vehicles will be increasingly restricted”. FCA reckons that it will be able to exploit the premium prices paid for the 500 to enable it to profitably offer both electric and mild hybrid versions. The 500 typically sells for prices 20% above the segment average.

The new electric and mild hybrid 500 models will be based on a completely redesigned 500 that will debut within the next year and include the estate.

The 500 Giardiniera, which references the tiny wagon of 1960, will offer the best space efficiency in its class, says Fiat, and “unmistakable design”. It too will get electric and mild hybrid variants.

The 500’s new platform architecture can also cope with a mild hybrid system. That unit consists of a belt driven, 12V starter-generator, although little detail has been provided on the electric drivetrain to be used in the 500. Lower-emissions petrol engines will also be offered in the 500 and Panda. 

Given the limited space for batteries and the 500’s urban appeal, range of the 500e is likely to be less than EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, which offers around 250 miles.

The 500e will be a rival to a growing number of small EVs – Mini’s first series-production electric car is due in 2019, at the same time as the Honda Urban EV. 

The 500e will be one of four electric powertrains offered by FCA. It will sit use a ‘City Car’ powertrain, while a ‘Mainstream’ powertrain will be launched in the Jeep Grand Commander. A ‘Performance’ powertrain will feature in the 2020 Maserati Alfieri and a ‘Premium’ EV powertrain will power the 2022 Maserati Quattroporte. 

The push for electrification comes amid Fiat Chrysler’s abandonment of diesel; by 2022, there will be no diesel options in the FCA catalogue. These will be replaced by numerous hybrids, both full and plug-in, the first of which will be the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, landing in 2020. 

The production capacity released by the deletion of the Punto and other unspecified Fiat models – such as Tipo – will be used to build more Alfa Romeos and Maseratis, whose premium prices can withstand the electrification costs. Some Italian capacity will be used to build some plug-in hybrid models, including certain Jeeps for global sale.

Additional reporting by Richard Bremner

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