It’s been almost four years since the all-electric Fiat 500e graced the Italian brand’s showrooms, but it’ll soon be back and better than ever.
Today at the LA Auto Show, Stellantis, the parent company of Fiat, announced that the Fiat 500e, comprehensively redesigned in 2020, will be returning to the North American market along with a couple of bespoke versions to welcome the stylish city car back to U.S. streets by early 2024.
Fiat CEO and Global Stellantis CMO Olivier Francois announced that along with the standard versions, which, if they carry the same underpinnings as those currently on sale in Europe, will get up to 198 miles of range from a 42 kWh battery pack, the company is offering three bespoke versions designed by Armani, Kartell, and Bulgari.
It’s highly likely that the 500e that lands on our shores will be largely the same as the one that’s currently on sale in Europe. An all-new design in 2020, the current 500e borrows some style cues from the old one (and the gas-powered 1950s original), but it’s very different in philosophy and design from the old 500e.
The previous Fiat 500e was a car Fiat seemed to build and sell only grudgingly. Introduced to the U.S. at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show and built in relatively small numbers in Mexico, it was largely a compliance car for the brand to meet EV sales requirements in states like California. It was sold only there and in Oregon, and shoehorned in a 30-kWh battery pack good for up to 112 miles of range, according to the EPA.
In 2019, Fiat announced that it was discontinuing the line of subcompact Fiat 500s in the U.S., but dealers continued to sell the stylish little vehicles through 2020.
This time around, things are very different. The new Fiat 500e was designed as an electric car from the start, and Fiat moved production to Italy to build it in much larger quantities than the old one. It also made it a little bigger and more practical, gaining 2.4 inches in width and 2.4 inches in length. The European version gets both adaptive cruise control and lane-centering features too.
Unlike the previous 500e, this one comes as either a hardtop hatchback or a convertible, the former with a small rear-hinged door to help use the back seat.
Buyers in Europe can choose from two different battery packs, a 42-kWh version and a 24-kWh battery pack. It’s safe to bet that the larger pack will be the only one available in the states since the reduced range of the smaller pack (around 100-120 miles) wouldn’t suit most American commuters who might pony up the cash for these vehicles.
Fiat has not announced pricing for the U.S. version of the Fiat 500e, but the show did feature some seriously stylish previews.
Armani, Kartell and Bulgari
Fiat’s best cars have always been design-forward, stylish small cars and the new 500e is no exception. It keeps the while cute retro look and small city car proportions but updates them in new ways, and with new design partners.
When the previous 500 arrived in the U.S. in 2011, the company paired with the Italian brand Gucci to design a red and green striped Fiat 500 complete with Gucci travel accessories. For its launch of the new 500e here in the U.S., the company has partnered with three well-known Italian brands once again: Armani, Kartell and Bulgari.
Armani, known for its impeccably tailored suits and dresses, designed a one-off version of the Fiat 500e, complete with unique body panels featuring a laser-etched chevron pattern that makes it look like textile, striking bronze-colored wheels in the form of the designer’s initials (GA), and a bronze plaque at the rear of the vehicle with Georgio Armani in script. It also gets the GA monogram on the inside, where it graces the headrests of the wool and “zero-impact” leather seats.
Bulgari, known for its iconic jewelry, also created a one-off version of the Fiat 500e, called the Mai Troppo (translated: “Never too Much”), and includes gold dust infused in the paint, Bulgari star-inspired gold and black two-tone wheels, gold-plated nameplates around the vehicle, heritage Bulgari silk scarves on the inside, and a 500 emblem on the steering wheel that includes a removable brooch with three large precious stones of amethyst, topaz, and citrine. On the outside, below the rear window, sits a diamond-pavé B.500 emblem.
While Kartell may be less well-known than Bulgari, Gucci or Armani, the company makes high design home goods chairs, tables, lights, and vases from plastics. One of their most iconic and recognizable designs is the Kabuki lamp with a lace-like shade. That theme permeates the Kartell-designed Fiat 500e that made its debut today. The wheels, side view mirrors, and dashboard all get the lacelike design. The exterior is an ultramarine blue, called Yves Klein blue that’s iconic of the Kartell brand.
These three vehicles will be auctioned off for charity, with proceeds going to “a good cause for the planet,” according to Stellantis PR.
The return of the Fiat 500e is all part of the wider Stellantis electrification plan, but it also has meaning for Fiat dealerships.
In 2021 Stellantis, the parent company of Fiat announced that it plans to go fully electric by 2030, with more than 40% of that electrified portfolio landing in the U.S. Fiat recently announced that it will remove all of its non-electrified vehicles from the UK this year, and its employing cryptocurrency rewards for efficient EV driving in the UK, too.
The Fiat 500e has been extremely well received in Europe, and for many months over the last two years, it’s been the EU’s best-selling EV that wasn’t a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y, though Volkswagen’s ID.4 appears to be catching up. It’s also won a gaggle of of awards over the last couple of years, including accolades from U.K. publications like What Car? and Auto Express.
Fiat’s U.S. dealers, which have had only the 500x crossover to sell for the past couple of years, will also welcome what may be a popular entry-level EV. We’ll have to wait until closer to the launch date in 2024 to find out the U.S.-specific details and pricing of the new Fiat 500e, but having seen it in person, it’s made a good first impression.