Fiat 500
Fiat 500 / AutoCar

Next-generation Fiat 500 will get a full electric variant, while the maker brings back the 500 Giardiniera

An electric Fiat 500 city car will launch in 2020, alongside an estate version of the 500, badged 500 Giardiniera, Fiat has confirmed.

The plans are part of Fiat’s strategy to focus on its 500 and Panda model line-ups, creating a niche for itself with predominantly electrified city cars, which are growing in popularity thanks to stricter emission regulations in cities worldwide.

Ahead of the electric Fiat 500 arriving, a mild-hybrid variant will launch next year.

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.

This focus also means other, less successful Fiat models will be axed. These include the Punto – axed after a 13-year production run – and while unconfirmed, the Tipo.

Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne said: “The Fiat 500 green concept extends beyond just the 500. We plan to leverage the iconic status and technology of the 500, extending the line-up to introduce a small car with best in-class interior roominess and unmistakable design, the Fiat 500 Giardiniera.”

He added that Fiat “is very well-placed to exploit battery-electric city car opportunities in jurisdictions where access for internal combustion vehicles will be increasingly restricted”. FCA reckons that it will be able to exploit the premium prices paid for the 500 to enable it to profitably offer both electric and mild hybrid versions. The 500 typically sells for prices 20 percent above the segment average, said Marchionne.

“We are also planning to build on our proven success with the Fiat Panda. Since its introduction in 1980, the Panda has managed to evolve while staying true to its iconic image of the real ‘no fuss’ city car. We believe we can continue to leverage its strong heritage with affordable eco-friendly combustion engines.

The new 500 electric and mild-hybrid models will be based on a completely redesigned 500 that will debut within the next two years and include the estate. The 500 Giardiniera, which references the tiny 1960 500 wagon, will offer the best space efficiency in its class said Fiat, and ‘unmistakable design’. It, too, will have mild hybrid and electric variants.

The 500’s new platform architecture will also spawn the new Panda, which will be available with a mild hybrid drivetrain. The mild hybrid consists of a belt driven, 12 volt starter generator; little detail has been provided on the electric drivetrain to be used in the 500. Lower emission petrol engines will also be offered in the 500 and Panda.

Given the limited space for batteries and the 500’s urban appeal, range of the 500e is likely to be less than EVs such as the Nissan Leaf which offers around 250 miles.

The 500e will be a rival to a growing number of small EVs – Mini’s first electric car is due in 2019, at the same time as Honda’s Urban EV .

The 500e will be one of four electric powertrains offered by FCA. It will sit use a ‘City Car’ powertrain, while a ‘Mainstream’ powertrain will be launched in the Jeep Grand Commander. A ‘Performance’ powertrain will feature in the 2020 Maserati Alfieri and a ‘Premium’ EV powertrain will power the 2022 Maserati Quattroporte .

The push for electrification comes as FCA anamid Fiat Chrysler’s abandonment of diesel – by 2022, there will be no diesel options in the FCA catalogue. These will be replaced by numerous hybrids, both full and plug-in, the first of which will be the new Jeep Grand Cherokee , landing in 2020.

The production capacity released by the deletion of the Punto and other unspecified Fiat models – such as Tipo – will be used to build more Alfas and Maseratis, whose premium prices can withstand the electrification costs. Some Italian capacity will be used to build some plug-in hybrid models, including certain Jeeps for global sale.