The all-new electric 500 will sit on a bespoke electric car platform, according to Fiat boss Olivier Francois, with the same platform potentially earmarked for use if the the new Panda-inspired Centoventi concept makes production. The electric 500 will be a key part of Fiat's transformation in Europe into a brand focusing on small, electrified city cars.
"The car will stay true to everything you know about the 500, but will be entirely new," said Francois. "Under the skin it will be radically different, but otherwise you will recognise the size and proportions.
“But it is a big statement, starting our electric path with the 500. We are doing it with that car for reasons of pricing. It is clear that we cannot sell an electric 500 for the same entry price of today’s 500, but what’s clear is that more than half of our 500 customers today do not buy entry-level models. In fact, for them a 24,000 euro price is normal today.
“If you look at our electric competition, they are priced around 32,000 euros. The leap then from 24,000 to 32,000 is not so much, especially if you factor in government grants for electric vehicles.
Francois refused to be drawn on whether the electric 500 could be rear-wheel drive like the original, but said he would be open to the idea. He also said that an electric Abarth model could hold appeal.
The electric car platform that the 500e will sit on will be FCA Group developed. Francois said he would personally be open to sharing the technology with partners - the 500 platform has previously been shared with the Ford Ka, for instance, but he stressed that any such decision would have to be made at a Group level.
Fiat also confirmed the 500 lineup will be expanded with a 500 Giardiniera estate, although the firm didn't say if that version would also appear at next year's Geneva show.
The aim is to consolidate the brand’s dominance of the city car segment - the 500 and Panda hold a third of this market - while developing technologies that allow these models to satisfy emission regulations.
The 500 Giardiniera, which references the tiny wagon of 1960, will offer the best space efficiency in its class, says Fiat, and "unmistakable design". It too will get electric and mild hybrid variants.
The 500’s new platform architecture can also cope with a mild hybrid system. That unit consists of a belt driven, 12V starter-generator, although little detail has been provided on the electric drivetrain to be used in the 500. Lower-emissions petrol engines will also be offered in the 500 and Panda.