Fiat 500 all-electric city car goes up for pre-order
2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the now iconic Nuova Fiat 500, and the release of a new flavor – the Fiat 500 city car. There were some who thought that this little runabout would make a great around town electric, leading to builds by the likes of EV Adapt and Karabag/Linde, and even an option from Fiat itself. Now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has officially joined the e-mobility party with an all-electric 500.
With the launch of the third generation 500, Fiat hopes that the electrification of its iconic city car will serve to inspire positive change toward a sustainable future. "It's time to take action to create a better future," says the auto maker. And it has enlisted the help of Hollywood actor Leonardo Di Caprio and three Italian icons to drive home the message. More about that later. First a closer look at the all-electric Fiat 500.
Its 42 kWh Li-ion batteries offer 320 km (about 200 mi) of WLTP range per charge. An 85-kW fast charger comes as standard to get the batteries up to 80 percent in 35 minutes, though if you're in a real hurry, you can get 50 km (31 mi) of travel for five minutes at the fast charge point – which could just be enough to get you home. A Combo 2 socket to the rear right panel caters for both AC and DC charging.
The 87-kW motor will have the 500 sprinting from standstill to 50 km/h (31 mph) in 3.1 seconds and zero to 100 km/h in 9 seconds, on its way to a limited top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph). Three driving modes are available. The Sherpa mode caps maximum speed at 80 km/h (50 mph), deactivates climate control and heated seats, and adjusts other system parameters to keep energy consumption low "to ensure that you can reach either the destination set on the navigation system or the nearest charging station comfortably."
A Range mode brings one pedal drive into operation, with motor braking meaning that the driver may only ever have to touch the brake pedal to come to a complete stop – as with the Nissan Leaf, slowing down while on the move can be achieved just by easing off the accelerator pedal. And Normal mode is said to offer drivers a similar experience to a combustion engine vehicle.
Fiat has given the 500 Level 2 autonomous driving capabilities, which will allow the car to drive itself under certain conditions but the human driver must be ready to take over at any time. Front-facing cameras keep watch for what's around the vehicle and will help with the intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control system, which can automatically accelerate or slow down the car in traffic. The car will also be able to keep within lane markings – when they "are correctly identified."
Driver assistance technologies include the ability to read speed signs and recommend adjustments, monitoring blind spots using ultrasonic sensors, parking assistance, and letting you know when the vehicle reckons you've been on the road long enough and need to take a break.
It's the first Fiat car to come with the UConnect 5 infotainment system built around Android Auto, though Apple AirPlay is also available. Entertainment, navigation aids and more are served up on a 10.25-inch high definition touchscreen.
The system can wirelessly connect with a smartphone to remotely check battery status, find the vehicle in a crowded car park, set aircon before you get in, update the car's navigation system with your next appointment and so on. It can also automatically connect the driver with support in the event of a breakdown, allow owners to keep a check on the condition of the vehicle, serve as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices, and send out alerts if someone tries to make off with your ride.
The 500 comes with voice recognition cooked in too, allowing occupants to issue voice commands to set climate control, select a playlist and control other vehicle parameters, and has an audible warning system to alert pedestrians to its presence at speeds under 20 km/h (12.4 mph), which playfully sounds out as music rather than just a tone.
In terms of looks, the new two door, four seater retains the same Cinquecento bubbly box personality as its ancestors, with a few notable changes. First of all, it's bigger – 6 cm (2.3 in) longer than gen-2, and 6 cm wider, with a wheelbase that's grown by 2 cm (0.8 in). Overall, the car sits under four meters long.
It's relatively spacious inside thanks to the electric drivetrain, but still a compact city dweller on the outside. The round headlights from before have been replaced by split oval eyes that look to have eyelashes and the third-gen 500 wears a cheeky smile. Where you might otherwise find a Fiat logo, the 500 has its own, with now familiar blue coloring to highlight its electric identity, and the last zero of 500 turned into a stylized letter e. It also features flush door handles, and bigger wheels spread farther apart.
Inside you'll find a wide dash, modular storage between driver and front passenger seats, and some trim levels include seats made using yarn from plastic waste recovered from the sea, with others coming in faux leather. It has the same luggage capacity as before.
The "la Prima" launch version of the 500 is a convertible and available in gray, green or blue. It includes LED headlights, 17-in diamond-cut wheels and chrome-plated inserts on the windows and side panels.
To celebrate the launch of what Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is calling its first fully electric car (as there are now no fossil fuel 500s in the range), three special one-off editions have been revealed, styled by famous Italian brands Armani, Bvlgari and Kartell.
Design highlights of the 500 Giorgio Armani model include fabric-like microchevron engraving to the bodywork, amber coloring to the windows, and the Armani logo on the wheels.
The B.500 "Mai Troppo" by Italian jewelry house Bvlgari wears a saffron paint job infused with gold powder from jewelry production waste. It has star-shaped wheels too, and an amethyst, topaz and citrine brooch sits at the center of the steering wheel.
The 500 Kartell one-off features metal, glass, rubber, plastic and fabric that are all the same blue color. Recycled polycarbonate is used in the front grille, wheels and mirrors, and polycarbonate melts inside too – on the dash and seats. And recycled polypropylene is also used for textiles inside.
The three one-offs will go to auction for charity, with one of Leonardo Di Caprio's pro-environment organizations getting the proceeds.
The launch edition is up for pre-order now, with a €500 (about US$560) deposit registering your interest. The final price will be €37,900 (US$42,350), with the first 500 Fiat 500s coming with a free Easy Wallbox home charger developed by Engie EPS.