Future is murky in the U.S.
New Fiat 500 goes all-electric
The Fiat 500 has been in production since 2007, built on a platform originating from 2003. In other words, what Fiat markets as the “new” 500 is the 2003 Panda’s technology wrapped up as a fashionable lifestyle item, now several seasons out of fashion. Now, as Fiat Chrysler continues its move away from small vehicles altogether, it’s finally time to replace the 500. The city car is now exclusively a battery-electric EV, but don’t expect something as brave and futuristic as Fiat’s 2019 Centoventi concept build for the Geneva Motor Show. In fact, the next 500 looks almost exactly like the current one, despite growing 2.4 inches both in length and width, and 0.8 inch in wheelbase.
The last time Fiat made a 500e, it turned out to be a losing venture that was quickly discontinued. And while those EVs were only sold in California and Oregon, since then, many have made their way over to Europe, where these small EVs represent a budget second-hand alternative to all-new battery-electric models.
When it comes to 500s you can buy new from Fiat today, the old chassis with the combustion and mild-hybrid powertrains have a few more years in production within certain markets. Yet in the meantime, Fiat will launch the all-new 500 for 2021, with a 42-kWh lithium-ion battery, an 85-kW fast charger, and an output of 87 kW. Those 116 horses translate to a 0-62 mph run in 9.0 seconds, and a top speed of 93 mph.
If you don’t need to go that fast and are more concerned about distance on a full charge, there are two modes called Range and Sherpa, with the latter decreasing the top speed to 50 mph, while switching off the A/C and the heated seats as well. The new 500 also comes with “level 2 autonomous driving,” which includes Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC) and Lane Centering. At the same time, all these changes bring a significant price hike into the picture, with the new 500 costing three times the existing 500’s current price in Europe, at least in certain high-end specs.
As for Fiat’s plan for the all-electric 500 in America, there are no firm plans as of this moment. According to a company press release, “U.S. FCA is evaluating its potential for the North American market.”
What’s next for the Abarth, a car whose main appeal is its rowdy exhaust note? We have no idea, but if its any comfort, while on the move the new all-electric 500 plays the score of the Academy Award-winning 1973 Fellini picture Amarcord, composed by Nino Rota. So there’s that.