The New York Auto Show was mostly highly anticipated; Lots of style revamps, new line and engine trim. Things you’d expect from a lot of car shows. But there was a really strange, inexplicable appearance: the electric Fiat 500.
For reasons unknown to us, or even to the Stellantis PR representative, not only was Fiat’s booth decked out with a lone 500X – which currently represents the brand’s entire US lineup – but there was also Pomodoro Tomato Red 500 Electric Convertible and Pale Pink Metallic 500 Electric Hatchback. Two cars owned by Stellantis, since the model was introduced two years ago, said it would not Coming to the United States. They are not drawn to or put on any fancy show. They just sat on the carpet like any other regular Stellatis product. And of course, we had to check it out.
And…they’re so adorable! We think Fiat should sell 500 electricians here. this is the reason:
First, they are great designs. It’s still as nice and vintage as the 500’s gas-powered (and electric) predecessor, but with more attention to detail. The headlights cross the hood, and the turn signals go from the belt line. Stylish recessed door handles below this line. Small tabs with the model name go down from the window frame. The retro grilleless front is natural and functional, and the entire vehicle has sporty, subtle curves. Plus, you can get it as a convertible, something the competition doesn’t offer.
The excellent details continue inside. The materials are certainly cheap (and admittedly the doors feel a little flimsy when closed), but they pull the same tricks as the Ford Maverick. It’s fun with colors, materials, and shapes to make it fun. It has a smooth, curvy dashboard that can be covered with cool fabric or painted to match the chassis. The seats are available with the text “FIAT” logo fully stitched through the upholstery. It has convenient controls to work with the bright and responsive touch screen. On top of that, the half-door on the hatchback is great for accessing the rear seat. The back seat is still tight, but you can get three adults into the car if needed (take care of your head and knees).
Basically, it’s a very elegant and elegant machine, something that the electric car market could use more of in the cheap car segment. It is likely to sell at the lower end. In the UK, the 500 Electric starts about £5,000 (about $6,500) less than the Mini Cooper SE (which starts here in the US at $34,750 including destination but before tax incentives), which is less than 3,000 pounds ( About $4,000) Nissan Leaf with 40 kWh battery pack (starting at $28,425). Although prices don’t usually translate directly, it looks like the 500 Electric might be the best affordable electric car on sale in America, assuming homologation won’t add much to the cost.
And at such a low price, the Fiat will bring not only plenty of style, but a great range. The 42 kWh battery pack (with 37.3 kWh usable) provides a range of about 199 miles on a WLTP cycle. That’s probably a bit lower in the US, but since it’s well beyond the WLTP ranges of the Nissan Leaf and Mini SE (168 miles and 145 miles respectively), we imagine it would beat them on the EPA cycle as well, where the 40-kWh Leaf is a company Low cost pioneer with 149 miles of range. The Fiat also features 85 kW fast charging, which is better than a Nissan or Mini, not to mention the sleek, but low-range Mazda MX-30.
Fiat is not a class leader everywhere. Its power is 117 horsepower sounds Lean, but still should have plenty of low-range torque and feel gritty in something so small. And speaking of size, it certainly has less interior space than the other three more affordable electric cars we mentioned. But it’s noticeably larger than the 500. It’s more than 3 inches longer and more than 2 inches wide, which should be more attractive to Americans. Charging space does not change, unfortunately.
There’s another reason we see the 500 Electric as a strong product for the US: Fiat really needs the product. The brand sells one model now, the 500X. She is getting old. It has a newer engine than its sister Jeep Renegade, but that’s still a long way off. Having a stylish new electric vehicle would diversify the showroom, help show the Stellantis brands are serious about switching to electric power, and perhaps even attract some buyers who wouldn’t have thought of Fiat otherwise.
Yes, we as car enthusiasts tend to demand cars that don’t make sense in our markets. And there might be an element of that in our argument – we simply think the 500 Electric is neat. But that’s not really all. The car has a really great electric range available at similarly great prices. It also does so without looking boring or heavy. It’s also a better size now for America, and it will light up some grieving Fiat dealers.
Come on, Stylants, give 500 more chances in America.