Fiat has announced that the fully-electric 500e will be launched in North America as part of the Italian marque’s global electrification strategy, with Canadian examples expected to arrive in early 2024.
A successor to the ‘original’ battery-electric 500, which launched in mid-2013 before quietly disappearing in 2019 following poor sales, the silks were thrown from the new electric 500 in March 2020 ahead of its European launch in late 2021. Now, with Fiat looking to go fully electric, globally, between 2025 and 2030 under the larger strategy of parent conglomerate Stellantis, the electric 500 is set to play “a significant role in the revolution,” marking as it does Fiat’s first major campaign in North American in more than a decade.
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“Since 1899, FIAT has played a role in developing mobility, not only delivering vehicles to the masses but also pursuing a social mission and riding the wave of ‘what’s next,’ ” Fiat CEO Olivier Francois explains. “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. We want to introduce America to EVs with our icon, the Fiat 500, because this is the right thing to do. On a corporate side, we need to trailblaze new pathways and it will be a privilege for our New 500 to help lead change. On the human level: it is a commitment to taking customers into the future of mobility… again.”
The official North American reveal of the 500e will take place at next year’s Los Angeles Auto Show ahead of the start of sales in the first quarter of 2024. Though slightly cloying, the 500e is seen by Fiat as a way to “reinvent the customer experience” in North America, significant given the US and Canada’s penchant for SUVs, sedans and pickup trucks over small city cars.
With that in-mind, three one-off examples of the electric 500 were showcased as part of a ‘Made in Italy’ showcase at the LA Auto Show, each of which had been individually styled by a prominent Italian design house. The ‘500 Giorgio Armani’, for example, featured microchevron engraving on the bodywork, which effectively ‘etched’ the gey-green ‘silk effect’ paint to emulate Armani’s famous two-tone look. The ‘GA’ logo also adorned the wheels and the soft top folding roof, while the thinly aluminum inlaid dashboard is said to reflect the Armani/Casa product line.
The ‘500 Kartell’ meanwhile used a ‘mirror-effect Kartell blue’ across multiple surface materials to foreground the Italian brand’s development work on sustainable plastics. Hence also the use of polycarbonate recycled material used for the wheels, front grille and mirror caps (look closely and you’ll see nods to Kartell’s ‘Kabuki’ lamp in these too).
Finally, the B.500 “MAI TROPPO” (Roman for ‘Never Too Much’) was conceived by Bvlgari, and foregrounded “craftsmanship and beauty” courtesy of its saffron-coloured pearlescent paint – which apparently reimagines the 500 as a ‘jewel’ – glazed sills and front mouldings, and bespoke-wheels, the spokes of which are reminiscent of the Bvlgari star.
At the heart of the electric 500 in Europe lies a front-wheel driving 87 kW e-motor, twinned with a 42 kWh lithium-ion battery, that produces up to 117 hp and 162 lb ft of torque, enough for up to 320 km of electric range (WTLP) and 0-100 km/h in a flat nine seconds. Just how much these figures will be adjusted for the North American market is unlikely to revealed ahead of the 500e’s 2023 LA Auto Show launch.