Fiat has revealed the next generation of the compact 500, being pitched as “the first FCA car born full electric” (translated from Italian). While the outgoing 500e was originally a gasoline-powered car converted into an EV, the new one, apparently, was designed to be electric from the onset. Theoretically, that should make it better; unfortunately, its future in the U.S. market is a “maybe.”
Fiat’s U.S. press release states: “The new Fiat 500 has not been confirmed for the U.S. FCA is evaluating its potential for the North American market.” Shucks. I was really hoping those $99-per-month lease deals would come back... but the really low prices 500es were trading at when they were new is probably part of the reason the company’s hesitant to offer the model again.
Which is too bad, because I think “affordability” is exactly what the electric car market needs more of. Ultra-fast P100Ds and Taycan Turbos are neat but they’re not doing much to help folks of modest means convert to EVs.
Fiat’s Italian press release isn’t too technically focused but it does state that the new 500’s lithium-ion batteries will have a capacity of 42kWh and a range “up to 320 km with WLTP cycle” which is about 200 miles. Impressive! And probably further than you’d want to go in a little Fiat in one sitting anyway.
I was intrigued by this passage too:
“To optimize charging times, the Nuova 500 is equipped with the 85 kW fast charger system which allows you to recharge the battery in a very short time. For example, for a reserve of energy sufficient to travel 50 kilometers - more than necessary in average daily use - it takes only 5 minutes. And always thanks to the fast charger, you can recharge 80% of the battery in just 35 minutes.”
Combine that with the tidy, familiar 500 design and I have to say, I kind of want one of these. It’s also getting Fiat Chrysler’s new Uconnect 5 infotainment interface which will probably be good, and intelligent cruise control that can automatically speed you up or slow you down, plus lanekeeping and lane-centering functionality (which FCA seems to be calling “Level 2 autonomy.”)
I also love that Fiat named its long-range mode “Sherpa.”
The PR explanation there:
“In particular, the Sherpa mode allows the driver to reach his destination by optimizing the available resources. The Sherpa driving mode intervenes on several elements to reduce the car’s energy consumption to the maximum, precisely to ensure that the destination set on the navigator or the nearest charging station is reached. Like a “Himalayan Sherpa”, who has control of the entire expedition and directs it to the destination, this driving mode intervenes on various parameters: the maximum speed, which is limited to 80 km / h; response to the accelerator, so as to reduce energy consumption, and deactivation of the air conditioning system and heated seats (with the possibility for the driver to reactivate them at any time).”
It’s a real bummer that this EV is not a given for the U.S. market. I really, really want to believe there’s a market for an inexpensive decent-looking electric car with a 200-mile range.