A reader in Stuttgart emailed us yesterday to tell us how cool the Honda E and new fourth-generation Fit were. Of course neither car is coming to the U.S. anytime soon, so the email felt like a taunt even though it wasn’t intended to be. This morning, Fiat debuted a fine-looking new electric 500, also maybe not coming here. We get it, guys.
The market in the U.S., of course, is substantially for trucks at this moment in history. That’s more and more true in the pandemic. Months ago, I had thought, perhaps optimistically, that a pandemic-related recession might also lead to more people being interested in smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, but I didn’t take into account gas prices also cratering, in addition to the fact that full-size trucks these days are a lot more fuel efficient than they were even ten years ago.
Which is to say that it makes sense on some level that automakers aren’t giving us more and more interesting small cars, even as it still stings a bit. Let’s consider that new Fiat, for example, which, like the Honda E, is an electric car that I would actually buy if it were sold here. Called the ‘la Prima’ hatchback, it looks good, has enough range (199 miles), and is designed to be small but feel bigger.
Its standout feature is a panoramic sunroof, but it also has the following, which is unfortunately-named but useful-sounding:
Sherpa mode optimises the available resources to reduce fuel consumption to a minimum, enabling it to reach the destination set on the navigation system or the nearest charging station. Just like a Himalayan Sherpa, who is in charge of the whole expedition and is a guide to the destination, this driving mode adjusts various parameters: maximum speed is limited to 50mph; accelerator response is managed in order to reduce energy consumption; and deactivation of both the climate control system and heated seats (the driver has the option of activating them at any time).
The car costs 26,995 pounds, which is cheaper than any Tesla.
I will now, as I do once a month, scan the small car offerings that are here—nevermind, I know what they are, they are all mostly bad. And so I will now also do another infrequent ritual, in begging automakers outside of Honda to sell good small cars in the U.S. Almost anything will do, really. The market is wide open.
A spokesman for Fiat said that it had nothing new to announce with regard to the North American market.