Stellantis announced the all-new 2024 Fiat 500e, a tiny, affordable electric car that could be the perfect antidote to all those oversized, bloated electric SUVs and trucks that are coming out soon. The tiny EV will be available in North America in early 2024.
The Fiat 500e is a great example of the kind of vehicle that makes a lot of sense for cities and maybe even some suburbs. It’s electric, so it won’t spew pollution into the air. It’s small, so it takes up less space and is, on balance, less dangerous to pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who share the road.
The Fiat 500e is a great example of the kind of vehicle that makes a lot of sense for cities and maybe even some suburbs
Starting at $34,095, the Fiat 500e will squeeze 149 miles of range out of a 42 kWh battery pack, which sounds paltry compared to many long-range EVs on the market today. But when you consider the type of person who might be interested in this EV, and the type of driving, the range estimate starts to make more sense.
What the Fiat 500e lacks in range and cargo space, it makes up for in charm. The 500e apparently includes a feature called the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System, which is the standard low-speed audio warning that’s required of all EVs — with an Italian twist. The low-speed audio alert is actually a classical composition called “The sound of 500,” written by Flavio Ibba and Marco Gualdi.
“The exclusive melody gives a taste of Italian culture during the first moments of every drive,” the company said.
The Fiat 500e won’t tear up the track, necessarily, with 117 horsepower and 162 lb. ft. of torque. The little EV can accelerate 0–60 mph in 8.5 seconds — not necessarily anything to write home about, but again, perfect for what we’re talking about here.
The price might also be questionable. I can already hear Tesla fans in the comments noting that a Model 3, with over 250 miles of range and a lot more space, can be had for around the same price. But Fiat is trying to make it worthwhile by tossing in a free Level 2 home charger from its subsidiary Free2Move.
The 500e can only accept a max of 85 kW of charging, which means no ultra-fast DC charging. That translates to 31 miles of range in five minutes, or 80 percent in 35 minutes.
The most important specification for the 500e is its weight: a skinny 3,000 lbs. Stellantis predicts that this makes it “the lightest passenger [battery electric vehicle] in the segment.” That makes the 500e around the same size as the discontinued BMW i3, which for a long time was the reining champ in lightweight EVs.
EVs are generally heavier than gas-powered vehicles because of added battery weight. Automakers are making this worse by prioritizing the heaviest segments like SUVs and trucks. Smaller, more efficient EVs could help address the bloat in the segment, as well as help address other crucial issues, like battery material scarcity.
The Fiat 500e will feature three drive modes: Normal, Range, and Sherpa, which maximizes energy efficiency by limiting the top speed to 50 mph and reducing power from 87 kWh to 57 kWh. Lightweight and low speed? Be still my beating heart.
Of course, the Fiat 500e is not for everyone. And given how SUV-and-truck-pilled American car buyers are these days, Stellantis will have its work cut out for it. But the Fiat 500e may arrive at the right time. Smart cars are hard to find these days, thanks to many automakers declining to sell them in North America.
But Fiat, with a parent company that makes more than enough revenue from the aforementioned truck and SUV segments, can afford to test the waters for small, lightweight EVs. Could it be that Americans, pummeled by increasingly menacing-looking trucks and bulletproof EVs, could be ready to go small again?