A New EV-Only Fiat 500 Is on the Way, But What Will It Look Like?
Next Fiat 500 will be all-electric and the spearhead of a new five-vehicle European offensiveby Andrei Nedelea, on LISTEN 04:53
Fiat has been selling the current 500 city runabout for over ten years, mostly unchanged, and it will have to replace it with an all-new model fairly soon. Back in 2007, when it was first revealed, it was a response to the success that BMW was having with the MINI Cooper and VW with its revived Beetle, both of which were unashamedly retro-inspired.
Times are changing now, and the focus is more on how green cars are these days, as well as their level of perceived quality - how “premium” they feel. Fiat is reportedly working on the next-gen 500 and it is apparently not only going to be slightly bigger than the current car, but also fully-electric and considerably more luxurious.
Autocar reports that the next 500 will ride on a bespoke platform that will allow for both conventional and all-electric powertrains to be installed (even though it is believed to be an EV-only vehicle) and that it will actually be a five-door model, with small rear doors that are rear-hinged just like those of the Mazda RX-8 or BMW i3. It will reportedly grow in size too and feature a roomier and more upmarket feeling interior to compete with the likes of the MINI hatchback, as well as to not be affected by the market-wide decline in popularity of three-door vehicles.
The decision behind this move upmarket has to do with the fact that more than half of current 500 buyers opt for high-spec examples that easily double the entry level price of the car.
The source quotes a company official as saying that since buyers now easily pay €24,000 for a 500 with a conventional powertrain, the jump to around €32,000 won’t seem like a major one and it won’t alienate them.
And even though there are clear hints that the new 500 will be a more upmarket proposition, it won’t be marketed as a premium vehicle or one that is especially sporty. It will be sold as a chic, green way to get around the city.
For those who will require extra practicality from their next-gen 500, Fiat will also revive the 500 Giardiniera name and put it on the back of a larger wagon model based on the same vehicle.
We don’t yet know if it will actually feature a longer wheelbase, but it might.
We also don’t know which wheels will be powered in the next 500; front-wheel drive is the most likely solution, but since it is believed to be all-electric, placing the motor in the rear to drive the rear wheels doesn’t seem like a stretch, especially since the original was rear-engined and rear-wheel-drive.
The 500 and 500 Giardiniera won’t be the only new vehicles to join the Fiat lineup within the next few years, though. The source report says that a total of five new vehicles will be created, ranging in length between 3.5 meters and 4.5 meters (11.5 feet and 14.8 feet).
Fiat is said to ditch the 500L and 500XL people carriers that are only really popular in Italy and don’t really sell very well anywhere else.
The Ford Focus-sized Tipo, currently available as a sedan, hatchback and wagon, will be phased out and replaced by a crossover of the same size, while the 500X will get a replacement too.
Finally, the other major seller for Fiat, the Panda, will be replaced by an all-new model too. The automaker revealed the Centoventi Concept, a funky all-electric city crossover earlier this year, at the Geneva motor show, and this is believed to be a preview of what the automaker has in store for the next Panda. The study is fully-electric, has extensive plastic cladding around its body and a light and airy interior that oozes Italian style; oh, and it too has rear-hinged doors, confirming that Fiat is indeed considering this solution.
The all-new Fiat 500 is expected to be revealed in mid-2020, but whether or not it is only offered as an electric vehicle or if it will have a fully-electric version (like some rival city cars are offering these days) remains to be seen. The Panda will follow a year later, in 2021, with the rest of the renewed lineup arriving not too long after that.
The segment where the next-gen 500 is going to be battling it out is quite competitive. There are the all-electric versions of the Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa to contend with, but also the production version of the Honda e. The latter sounds very close in philosophy to what the next 500 will be like (small, premium-esque and all-electric) and since it is a Honda, it will have the advantage of more credible engineering behind it.
Regardless, the arrival of a new 500 will be a big deal since it and the Panda combined currently account for one in three small cars sold in Europe. Fiat will want to maintain this position of power in the smaller car segment, but the task is by no means easy and it can’t just incrementally evolve the 500 - a radical solution is needed and an electric only 500 could be just the ticket.
|ELECTRIC MOTOR||Permanent magnetic electric traction with electric-parking pawl|
|Power (SAE)||111 bhp (83 kW)|
|Torque (SAE)||147 lb.-ft. (200 N•m)|
|Max. Speed (estimated)||88 mph (141 kph)|
|EPA estimated miles-per-gallon equivalent||121 MPGe (195 KPGe) — city 103 MPGe (166 KPGe) — highway 112 MPGe (180 KPGe) — combined|
|EPA estimated Driving Range||City, typical More than 100 miles (160 km) Combined, label 84 miles (135 km)|
|Emissions||Zero emissions vehicle (ZEV)|
|BATTERY SYSTEM||24 KWH LIQUID-COOLED/HEATED LITHIUM-ION BATTERY|
|Type and Description||24 kilowatt-hours (kWh) capacity with 97 lithium-ion cells, 364 volts|
|Thermal Management System||4-mode: thermal equalization, passive cooling, active cooling and active heating|
|On-board Charging Module (OBCM)||6.6-kW including AC to DC conversion and Level 1 or Level 2 charging|
|Estimated Charge||Time Level 1 (120-volt): less than 24 hours Level 2 (240-volt): less than 4 hours|
|Power Inverter Module||DC-to-AC and DC-to-DC|
Read our full review on the 2019 Fiat 500e.
Read our full review on the 2019 Fiat 500X.
Read our full review on the 2018 Fiat 500L.
Read our full review on the 2018 Fiat 500.