What will Fiat’s EV and Hybrid Range Look Like?
In December 2020, European Chief for Fiat, Lancia and Abarth Brands, Luca Napolitano, released new ambitious plans for 60% of Fiat models to be ‘electrified’ by the end of 2021. This positioned Fiat amongst the increasing number of car manufacturers across the world announcing bold strategies for electrification and carbon neutral production, with Napolitano stating Fiat’s plans are ‘better than the market average’.
While many brands are manufactured under the Fiat Chrysler corporation, this announcement only pertains to Fiat models. So, how does this position Fiat in the ever-growing electric vehicle and hybrid market and what can we expect the Fiat range to look like over the course of 2021?
New Electric and Hybrid Models
Fiat began the road to electrification in early 2020, with two mild-hybrid versions of their best-selling Panda and 500 city-car models that have been released as part of a special ‘Hybrid Launch Edition’ range. They are built on a new 3-cylinder 1.0 litre petrol mild-hybrid engine that incorporates a 12- Volt integrated starter generator (ISG). Fiat’s ISG helps with the responsiveness of the engine from stationary and provides an added power boost for acceleration while cleaning up the engine with 30% less carbon emissions produced.
The hybrid range has only helped continue Fiat’s domination of the European city-car market and achieved a record market share for their city-car models in 2020. The Fiat Panda, in particular, picked up multiple awards in various crossover categories and was joined by the Fiat 500 Hybrid at the top of the list for the best-selling A-segment cars of the year.
2020 also marked the year which Fiat began production on their Fiat 500e electric model, their first all-electric production model. With a 42kWh battery it can return 199 miles on a single charge and the top specification La Prima models will be the first city car sold with Level 2 Autonomous Driving status. This is another milestone in the celebrated history of the Fiat 500 city-car, a model that has earnt Fiat much success and reputation since its inception in the mid-1950s.
The Fiat 500e went on sale earlier this year at Fiat dealerships across the UK, with prices starting at under £20,000. It’s zero emissions engine will mean it qualifies for the Government Plug-in car grant too, which is available on all eligible UK purchases. You’ll also save on charging equipment too, as unlike many other electric models, the 500e is sold with an easyWallbox charge point and Mode 3 cable that you can install at home for charging your new electric car.
Are there plans for a new electric Fiat crossover?
Elsewhere in the Fiat 500 family, the 500X and 500L utility models have enjoyed a refresh for 2021. Both are now available with a new ‘high standard of specification’ with upgraded infotainment features and a new Sicilia Orange colour option. But neither have received an electrification upgrade so far.
In March last year, Fiat Boss, Oliver Francois, raised speculation of a potential new crossover electric Fiat model being released in 2021 that would see the Fiat 500X and Fiat 500L axed in favour of a ‘single 500XL’ model. This would combine the style of the 500X crossover together with the utility of the 500L, which would make a good ‘candidate for electrification’ according to Francois.
Could this be a rival to some of the leading family crossovers like the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai? Notably both of these models are offered as a mild hybrid, as are other compacts like the Honda HR-V and Hyundai Kona. From early impressions, the 500XL would be a sporty looking 5-door crossover taking much inspiration from the iconic Fiat 500 city-car with a longer wheel base and higher ride height that’s favoured by SUV drivers. And while there hasn’t been an official announcement on this, a new electrified Fiat crossover is to be expected at some point in 2022 if not released later in on in 2021.
What Fiat’s electric range could look like
In many ways the 500 city-car has been a trailblazing model for Fiat. Born out of the European post war years its evolved from being the ‘people’s car’ of Italy to laying the groundwork for Fiat’s electric revolution in the 21st century. The top specification La Prima model is the most advanced Fiat model to date, not only for its intelligent autonomous driving systems but for its premium grade interior too, with Fiat’s latest infotainment system built on a stylish new 10-inch touchscreen multi-media display.
As a debut electric model not only from Fiat but for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the Fiat 500e is a sign of what’s to come from FCA and from Fiat especially. With the ban on petrol and diesel cars moved forward to 2030, buyers are undoubtedly starting to turn to alternatively fuelled vehicles and given the success of the petrol and hybrid Fiat 500 models the new 500e is set to continue Fiat’s success in the A-segment class.
At the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, Fiat unveiled what they described as a ‘very panda-inspired’ electric concept car, the Fiat Centoventi. Built on a modular battery system that allows the electric range to be extended as and when needed from 60 miles up to 300 miles, the Centonventi in many respects is a blueprint for a future electric Fiat Panda. The Panda is Europe’s best-selling A-segment car and is respected for both its affordability and practicality, and given its incredible success as a petrol and a hybrid, an electric model would surely make sense to Fiat.