The 2024 Fiat 500e Is the Urban EV We Need

Revived for 2024, the Fiat 500e could fill in an overlooked part of the EV market.

  • The Fiat 500e is coming back—Stellantis executives announce the compact EV will be available in the US starting in early 2024.
  • As a teaser, Fiat brought three special-edition 500e models to this year's LA Auto Show, with designs from Giorgio Armani, Kartell, and Bvlgari.
  • The compact car is a dying breed, but Fiat's model might be a step in the right direction for future urban, four-wheeled mobility.

    With so much focus on big, long-range electric vehicles, it can be easy to forget what most urban-owned cars are used for: bopping around town. Don't just take our word for it, studies show that many people commute short distances alone in gas-powered cars.

    Inner city, short to medium-range commuting is the ideal realm for electric propulsion, so long as the charging infrastructure can support it. And it's not just for the sake of the planet that small EVs may soon dominate urban commuting—it could also be a better experience for the driver.

    Fiat 500e at home on city streets.

    The blueprint is already there for an influx of compact, zero tailpipe emissions cars, thanks to the fuel-efficient ICE commuter cars that came before. And no Italian compact is as recognizable as the Fiat 500. The original form sold from 1957 until 1975, but most of us will be more acquainted with the Fiat-Chrysler/Stellantis-backed version from 2011 on.

    With a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the ICE 500 models delivered middling fuel economy of 26-33 mpg, for the price of around $17,000 for a base model. During its eight-year model run in the US that ended in 2019, the ICE version peaked with 46,999 sales in 2012, though that dropped to a mere 5370 units by 2019. The original version of the 500e arrived in 2013 as a compliance car in California and Oregon and flopped badly. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne encouraged consumers not to buy the original 500e because the company lost $14,000 on each car.

    Fiat 500e interior.

    The Fiat 500 in its current form is, well, old, but that's partially why an electric refresh suits it. Regardless of its battery capacity, the 500e will be more efficient and more fun. With 162 lb-ft of instant electric torque, regenerative braking, and an updated chassis, the 500e will also be easier to drive, making urban traffic a breeze. Fiat CEO Olivier Francois said that US customers can expect about 150 miles of range and a fast charging capacity of 85kW.

    "Today, more than ever, we are facing a global revolution, which means that customers are looking for more than just a car and we intend to embrace their changing needs," said Francois, who is also global chief marketing officer of Stellantis. "The new 500e is more than a car—it is a social project to feed America's appetite for change toward sustainable mobility."

    The Fiat 500e, courtesy of Bvlgari design here.

    We won't see the Fiat 500e until deliveries begin in Q1 2024. Offering an affordable, compact EV represents a packaging challenge, but urban settings—with narrow roads and scarce parking—will be best served by small models like the 500e and Chevrolet Bolt EV. And Fiat understands that not every US market is a fit for the 500e, as the company plans to have targeted metropolitan launch areas. That is, if four wheels are necessary.

    Leather with "Diva" pattern embroidery, gold details, and scarf inserts adorn the interior of the Bvlgari model 500e, paired with amethyst, topaz, and citrine stones. Fancy!

    Cities are trying to make all forms of transportation reliable and accessible, meaning that car dependency isn't guaranteed. Additionally, cities around the world, such as Paris and Madrid, have limited their central areas to small, low-emission vehicles.

    Even in the US, similar regulations are being debated, with many large cities trying to limit car use in certain areas.

    Modes of transportation are constantly evolving. Automakers globally are investing heavily in electric propulsion, but the US market is leaning toward midsize and larger EVs. In this regard, Stellantis is swimming upstream with the 500e.

    Do you think the Fiat 500e will be more popular on its second venture into the US market? Please comment below.

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