Article and images by John Grafman
Yes, Fiat. This is the brand that the public and the press almost forgot about. A lack of fresh product is troubling. The USA sales for the 500 could be considered a rounding error compared to the global market, which might explain the lack of attention.
But fret not more. Olivier Francois, FIAT CEO and global CMO Stellantis, is not only introducing a new 500e, but he’s also emphasizing the sustainability.
Olivier Francois mentions in a statement, “Today, more than ever, we are facing a global revolution, which means that customers are looking for more than just a car and we intend to embrace their changing needs. The new 500e is more than a car, it is a social project to feed America’s appetite for change toward sustainable mobility.”
It’s not like Fiat didn’t have an electric 500 before. But now, kiss the gas burning variant arrivederci. The decision to have a dedicated electric platform has a couple important ramifications. First, the engineers created better use of space and thereby allowing for more battery. That allows for greater range, power, or both. Secondly, the batteries and weight are down lower and that improves handling. This could have a range of 150 miles, a leap forward from the prior gen.
Glancing at the new version, destined to hit our shores in America in the first quarter of 2023, this does look more than a little familiar. Yet, Ralph Gilles, chief design overlord of the Stellantis group, points out that when side-by-side the two appear related but distinct. The bulging fender flairs are just one indicator.
Leading the charge (no pun intended), are three concepts. Fiat leans in on styling by having Armani, Kartell and Bvlgari showcase the talent from each. The Bvlgari dazzles with a paint job featuring real gold dust. Armani dresses the little Fiat in Scarab Green (looking like a dark matte gray with a hint of green). Kartell provides its vision, but with less flash. It is intriguing to see how each has handled the project, and the visual details.
No price has been announced yet on the production model, but don’t be surprised if the cost for a slice of Italy runs around $35K. In contrast, the endless smiles are priceless.