October 23rd, 2020 by Steve Hanley
If you see the Fiat New 500 electric car and think it looks a lot like the old 500e electric car, that’s by design. The original Fiat 500 appeared 63 years ago and the New 500 takes the styling cues from that car and incorporates them into this latest vehicle. But while the original was tiny, cramped, and slow, the latest version features an all new electric car chassis that allows it to be small on the outside with plenty of room on the inside and performance that is not measured in furlongs per fortnight. [Note: all photos courtesy of Fiat]
The New 500 will be available with two batteries — 23.8 or 42 kWh — two electric motors — 94 hp or or 118 hp — and three trim levels — Action, Passion, and Icon. The Action gets the smaller battery and less powerful motor. Fiat says it will have 115 miles of range WLTP. Thanks to regenerative braking, it can travel up to 150 miles on a single charge in city driving. The Passion and Icon have a WLTP range of 199 miles and 285 in city driving. Acceleration to 100 kn/h is about 9 seconds.
All cars are equipped for fast charging. The Action can handle 50 kW of charging power while the other two versions are capable of 85 kW charging — enough to add sufficient range for a typical commute (30 miles) in about 5 minutes. The Action is available only as a hatchback while Passion and Icon can also be had as cabriolets or a new 3 door version with a small rear hinged door on the right side of the car, a feature that harks back to the first Fiat 500 sixty three years ago. Fiat says the price of the New 500 Action in the UK after incentives will be a tick under £20,000.
The press release trumpeting the New 500 is chock-a-block full of superlatives. Suffice to say, even the least expensive model will offer Level 2 autonomous driving, over the air updates, and a host of electronic driver aids such as drowsy driver detection, autonomous emergency braking that can recognize cyclists and pedestrian, lane keep assist, and traffic sign recognition, which reads road signs and recommends the correct speed for prevailing conditions. The Passion adds cruise control and automatic climate control as standard equipment while the Icon offers 16″ wheels and tires, a 10.25 inch ‘cinerama’ center touchscreen with an integrated GPS and infotainment system. An exclusive feature for the Icon is a bio-based black polycarbonate “pebble” that can be carried in a pocket or purse and operates the door locks automatically.
The New 500 Passion and Icon models feature a voice command system that is a first for A segment cars. Just say “Hey, Fiat” to control a range of vehicle functions. The system can operate as a mobile hot spot to connect up to 8 digital devices at one time. The Fiat mobile app in connection with UConnect allows for a raft of features never before available in a city car. Dynamic range mapping shows how far the car can be driven by calculating the maximum possible distance based on remaining range and other parameters. Not only does the app allow viewing of the charging points located nearby, it also displays a graphic indication on the map of those that can be reached based on the current battery charge level. The maps are always kept current by over-the-air updates.
One interesting feature of the New 500 is Fiat’s new vehicle-to-grid project at the Mirafiore factory in Turin which will charge the cars using solar panels mounted on the roof of the factory and use the cars’ batteries to provide grid stabilization services. The V2G system was created in cooperation with ENGIE Eps and Terna. In addition to charging the cars with electricity from a solar roof, it will use the batteries to provide grid stabilization services. Once fully operational, it will be possible to connect 700 New 500 to the system.
The New 500 EV from Fiat. It’s not your father’s Fiat 500. Customers in the UK can order a New 500 starting in December for delivery in the spring.
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