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Fiat wants to build 80,000 electric 500s per year

Electric Fiat 500 2020 production

Fiat has marked 80 years since the opening of its famous Mirafiori factory by readying it for the future. New robots have been installed to help build an electric version of the 500 city car.

Due for introduction in 2020, the battery-electric Fiat 500 will keep 1,200 people in jobs once in production. The line will have an estimated 80,000 per-year production capacity. For context, there are around 70,000 electric cars on UK roads, in total, at present. We suspect the electric 500 won’t be built in those numbers just yet…

The total investment for the project, and production of the car, is just under £630million. 

Electric Fiat 500 2020 production

The updates are also with general production of EVs in mind, not just the Fiat 500. This is a provision for a range of battery-powered FCA products to come, with the cutesy 500 being the poster child.

“This car was entirely conceived, designed and engineered here,” said Pietro Gorlier, FCA COO for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region.

“It is a genuine product of ‘Made at Fiat’ and ‘Made in Turin’ ingenuity. It is another excellent example of the ability to create and innovate, which abounds in our company and in this city. In Turin, we are developing a new electric mobility centre of excellence that currently employs 260 people.

Electric Fiat 500 2020 production

“The new Fiat 500 electric represents just the first phase of our investment plan for Mirafiori.”

In Italy, FCA Group has plans to install over 900 charging stations at production sites and in parking areas. It will also add 1,200 charge points at Leasys Mobility stores and more than 1,100 at dealerships. The group is investing nearly £30 million on infrastructure.

Overall, it’s putting £4.5billion into refreshing a significant amount of product across the group, with 12 electrified versions of new or existing models on the way.

Electric Fiat 500 ‘Jolly’ is the ultimate holiday hire car

Hertz electric classic Fiat 500

Meet the Fiat 500 Jolly Spiaggina Icon-e, an all-electric version of the Italian icon. And it could be your next holiday hire car.

Hertz has commissioned the conversions from custom auto coachbuilder Garage Italia, with an electric motor sending power to the rear wheels. There’s no word on how many miles you’ll get from a battery charge, though. We suspect not many…

The Spiaggina features hand-woven seats in natural rope, heritage bodywork and matching wheels. It’s a classic Fiat 500, then, but with an electrifying twist.

This isn’t the first electric Fiat 500, though: a previous effort was inspired by Tesla.

Hertz electric classic Fiat 500

Enrico Vitali, CEO of Garage Italia calls the Icon-e “a perfect blend of tradition and modernity”.

In the Icon-e, “aesthetic research and production craftsmanship meet technological innovation and electric redevelopment, in the name of sustainability and style”.

Hertz electric classic Fiat 500

The Icon-e 500 Jolly will be available to rent from early July and will be the jewel in the company’s ‘Selezione Italia’ all-Italian offering.

“We are very proud of this new initiative with Garage Italia, offering our customers a fun-to-drive, tailor-made electric Fiat 500 that sports true Italian flair,” said Massimiliano Archiapatti of Hertz Italy.

Hertz electric classic Fiat 500

Selezione Italia is much more than a rental offer, it’s a philosophy; it’s the way we honour the relationship with our guests. In Italy we are proud of our traditions, of our distinctive culture that embodies authentic design, fashion, food, art, but most of all, hospitality – all embedded in Selezione Italia.”

From Freddie to Fifi… the most popular names for Fiat 500s

naming Fiat 500s

After all the excitement around the royal baby’s name (spoiler alert: he’s ‘Archie’) Fiat has revealed what buyers of its trendy 500 supermini call their cars.

Fiat offers free name stickers to 500 owners, and more than 3,000 have taken up the offer via the ‘my-500.com’ website.

Whether that’s a reflection on the car or the people who buy it, you can decide for yourself…

naming Fiat 500s

Anyway, Fiat has taken a look at the 3,000 sticker requests and established the top-five most popular names for new 500s, as chosen by their proud owners.

In reverse order, they are: Freddie, Minty, Luigi, Bella and –most popular of all – Fifi. 

Looking at the most popular names for cars overall, none of Fiat’s names makes the top 10 list. Betty comes top for other cars, with Tilly, Katy, Peggy, Alfie, Bertie, Amy, Dave, Bert and Bob following. 

naming Fiat 500s

“The fantastic response we had from owners shows how the Fiat 500 is so much more than a car to its owners. It becomes a member of the family,” said John MacDonald, Mopar service director.

“With the birth of the Royal baby, I predict the popularity of Archie will increase.”

What would you name your Fiat 500? We’d go with Enzo – as a nod to Ferrari – although Luigi is probably our favourite from the top-five.

Turin proud: a tour of Fiat’s amazing classic collection

FCA Heritage Hub

Welcome to Italian car heaven – and there isn’t a Ferrari or Lamborghini in sight. Housed inside Fiat’s former Mirafiori factory in Turin, the new FCA Heritage Hub contains more than 250 classics from Fiat, Lancia and Abarth. Concepts, prototypes, coachbuilt one-offs, iconic race-winners… they’re all here. Pitched as ‘not so much a traditional museum space as a three-dimensional archive in constant growth’, it opens to the public soon, but we had a privileged first look. Join us for a guided tour.

Fiat S61 Corsa

FCA Heritage Hub

One of the oldest cars in the collection, this 1908 Fiat S61 Corsa finished third in the first Indianapolis 500-mile race in 1911, then won the US Grand Prix in 1912. Its 10.1-litre (!) four-cylinder engine develops 125hp – good for a heady 99mph. Slowing down was clearly less of a priority: there are no front brakes. The car recently emerged from a 10-year restoration by FCA craftsmen, with many parts fabricated from scratch.

Fiat 500

FCA Heritage Hub

Leapfrog to the present day, and the 500 is the cornerstone of the Fiat range. This is 500 number 001 – the first off the production line in 2007. Its cute styling is a homage to the 1957 Cinquecento, but the 500 was forward-thinking in other ways: the first city car with seven airbags and the option of electronic stability control (ESC). A modern icon, it shows no sign of losing its appeal.

Fiat 500 Coupe Zagato

FCA Heritage Hub

This slightly sleeker 500 is the work of legendary Italian coachbuilder, Zagato. Debuting at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, it was the first car to use Fiat’s two-cylinder Twinair petrol engine. Other highlights include Zagato’s trademark ‘double bubble’ roof, lowered suspension, 17-inch alloys and custom ‘Pop Yellow’ paint. A special edition 500 with more than simply stripes and stickers, then.

Fiat Uno and Panda

FCA Heritage Hub

Fiat’s small-car heritage extends well beyond the 500, of course. Pictured are the Uno – first launched in 1983 – and 1980 Panda. The Uno was Italy’s answer to the Ford Fiesta and notched up nearly nine million sales by the time production finally ceased in 2013. Penned by Giugiaro, it anticipated the trend for taller, MPV-style hatchbacks. The Panda was more radical still, with completely flat glass and hammock-style seats. Its no-nonsense functionality still inspires car designers today.

Fiat Panda Elettra

FCA Heritage Hub

Proof that electric cars are nothing new, the Panda Elettra was manufactured by Austrian company Steyr-Puch from 1990 to 1998. Its 9.2kW motor relies on heavy lead-acid cells and top speed is just 43mph, with a fully-charged range of 62 miles. Those batteries also fill the back of the car, so there are only two seats. The recent Fiat Centoventi concept – which previews the next Panda – does rather better, with a predicted 300-mile range.

Fiat ESV 1500

FCA Heritage Hub

Impact bumpers have come a long way. The 1971 Fiat ESV 1500 (‘Experimental Safety Vehicle’) was the first prototype ‘safety car’ built in Europe. It’s based – believe it or not – on the contemporary 500, although borrows many parts from the 126 city car. Those huge bumpers and side rubbing strips are made from solid foam, while the gawky bodywork conceals a passenger safety cell and reinforced roof.

Fiat ESV 2000

FCA Heritage Hub

This larger ESV 2000 is also on display at the Heritage Hub. A Fiat 127 underneath, the ‘2000’ figure refers to its weight in pounds. For the metrically-minded, that translates to 1,165 kg – around 360 kg more than standard, and certainly enough to give its 1.3-litre engine a good workout. Fiat built 47 ESV prototypes in total.

Fiat 500 ‘Topolino’

FCA Heritage Hub

The 1936 ‘Topolino’ (‘little mouse’ in English), musters a mighty 13hp from a 569cc four-cylinder engine. It helped get Italy mobile again after World War Two, with 520,000 eventually made. In theory, this original 500 is a two-seater, but whole families would often squeeze inside the tiny, 3.2-metre-long car.

Fiat Coupe and Barchetta

FCA Heritage Hub

Fiat doesn’t only do small and sensible. The radical-looking 1993 Coupe was designed by Chris Bangle, who went on to reshape a generation of BMWs. In flagship 2.0-litre 20v Turbo Plus form, it could hit 62mph in 6.3 seconds and 155mph flat-out. The Barchetta (‘little boat’) roadster was launched in 1995, taking on the Mazda MX-5 with a 131hp 1.7-litre engine and a chassis derived from the Mk1 Punto. Only sold in left-hand drive, it was a rare sight in the UK.

Fiat 124 Sport Spider

FCA Heritage Hub

The Fiat 124 Spider recently made a comeback, but this is the 1966-1985 original. Styled by Tom Tjaarda and built by Pininfarina, it was particularly popular in America, where a three-speed automatic transmission was offered from 1979. Power comes from a variety of engines, including a rare Volumex supercharged version. The hard-top Abarth 124 Spider was a successful rally car, winning events in Germany, Greece and Poland.

Fiat Ecobasic

FCA Heritage Hub

Back to the sensible stuff, here’s the 1999 Fiat Ecobasic concept. Its aerodynamic body (Cd 0.28) devotes 88 percent of its volume to passengers and luggage, while all panels are made from recycled plastic. Maintenance access for the 1.2-litre diesel engine is via a flip-up panel between the headlights, and fuel economy is a thrifty 81mpg. Inside, the Ecobasic has plastic flooring and seats that fold sideways, transforming it into a small van.

Fiat X1/23

FCA Heritage Hub

Presented at Turin’s own motor show in 1972, the dinky X1/23 concept was later fitted with batteries and an electric motor. Its roofline arcs sharply over occupants’ heads, while the unusual front bumper frames the headlights. An equally minimalist interior features a single-spoke steering wheel, seats upholstered in synthetic cloth (very 1970s) and large shelf beneath the windscreen.

Fiat Campagnola AR 51

FCA Heritage Hub

We love the perfect patina on this Campagnola AR 51. In 1952, the proto-SUV drove the length of Africa, from Cape Town to Algiers, in a record 11 days. The Campagnola was originally designed for the Italian army, but soon found favour with farmers and off-road adventurers. Its 53hp 1.9-litre engine has a four-speed gearbox with low-range transfer case. Independent front suspension was innovative for the time, while the rear employs conventional leaf springs.

Fiat 124S

FCA Heritage Hub

You might know the Fiat 124 better as the Lada Riva. The small saloon, first launched in 1966, gained a second lease of life in Russia, where it lived on – incredibly – until 2012. This particular 124S is another car from the ‘Epic Journeys’ section of the Heritage Hub, and also started out in Cape Town, travelling to Norway’s North Cape in 50 days in 1970. Epic indeed, especially with no air conditioning or creature comforts.

Fiat 130 Familiare

FCA Heritage Hub

Giovanni Agnelli founded the company that became Fiat in 1899, and his family still holds a controlling interest. This one-of-four 130 Familiare estate was made for Dr Umberto Agnelli by a coachbuilder called Introzzi on Lake Como. Powered by a 165hp 3.2-litre Lampredi V6 mated to a three-speed auto ’box, it’s about the most stylish family car we can imagine.

Fiat City Taxi

FCA Heritage Hub

Revealed at the Turin Motor Show in 1968, the City Taxi was Fiat’s vision of a fare-paying future. Its asymmetrical body has a conventional door for the driver on one side, and a sliding door for passengers on the other. Other clever ideas include a padded dashboard with built-in radio-telephone and taxi meter, a semi-automatic gearbox and straps to attach luggage to the roof.

Fiat Punto

FCA Heritage Hub

We’d forgotten how crisp the original 1993 Punto looks. Once again, it’s designed by Giugiaro – the maestro behind the Panda, Uno, Volkswagen Golf Mk1, Lotus Esprit, BMW M1 and many more. Produced as a hatchback and (somewhat less stylish) convertible, the Punto would later become Europe’s best-selling car. Bizarrely, the third-generation model was phased out in 2018 with no direct replacement.

Lancia Stratos

FCA Heritage Hub

We’ve focused on Fiat here, but this sublime Alitalia-liveried Lancia Stratos is a reminder that other brands built in Turin also share the FCA Heritage Hub. The wedge-shaped Stratos borrowed its mid-mounted engine from the Ferrari Dino and weighs less than 1,000kg. It was a formidable rally car, winning three consecutive World Rally Championships from 1974 to 1976. This particular car took victory in the 1976 Rally of Portugal.

In pictures:

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Fiat 500

New Tesla-inspired ELECTRIC Fiat 500 confirmed for next year

Fiat 500 Fiat CEO Olivier Francois has confirmed an all-new electric-only Fiat 500 will launch at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show. And the new city car will be inspired by Tesla.

“We should think of the new 500 EV as an urban Tesla,” he said. “The beautiful style, coolness of concept, the statement it makes that the driver is cool, refined, sophisticated and cultivated.”

Although this means the entry-level price of the electric 500 may increase, Francois is not concerned. Half of customers already pay between £19,000 and £21,000 to buy a high-spec 500.

Fiat sold almost 200,000 500s last year. Taking a theoretical £26,000 entry-level price for a supermini-sized electric car, Francois argued that, once government incentives are factored in, Fiat already has evidence 100,000 people are prepared to pay what an electric 500 may cost.

Fiat 500

The current model, he added, will remain on sale, as a ‘classic 500’, with a range of small petrol engines. “We will keep on updating it to keep it fresh.”

Shifting the new 500 to an electric-only model is only possible because of the strength of the 500 brand. “People love the 500. Some will take it as an electric car even if they don’t need it. We will not lose customers by going only EV.”

Fiat will use sales of the zero-emission electric 500, along with a potential electric replacement for the Panda, to keep its European FCA fleet CO2 emissions within 2021 targets. 

“Small cars do not make lots of profits, but the contribution they can make to our group emissions will allow us to sell greater numbers of higher-margin Jeeps, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos.” 

Fiat has Christmas Eve all wrapped up for Londoners

Fiat 500 wrapped

This Christmas Eve, it isn’t just Santa who will be dropping in on residents of central London. Fiat is deploying a fleet of elves* armed with scissors, wrapping paper, sticky tape and gift tags for those who have left the wrapping to the last minute.

*They’re not elves. They’re actually people employed by Fiat and given a 500 city car for the night before Christmas.

Four Fiat 500s will be jostling for position with the dads making an eleventh-hour visit to the 24-hour garage for some late pressie inspiration and the pizza delivery guys in search of festive tips.

Members of the public who are caught short of wrapping paper or Sellotape (other brands are available) will be able to call on the free 500 Little Helper service by using the #WrappedbyFiat on Twitter and Instagram.

Fiat will despatch a ‘crack team of gift-wrap-wielding helper elves’ to the door, but the service is restricted to zones 1 and 2 in central London. Are you 100 percent sure they’re proper elves, Fiat, or do you sit on a throne of lies?

Should Londoners expect someone more akin to Buddy the Elf?

Son of a nutcracker!

Fiat 500 wrap

Andrea Lo Presti, Fiat marketing director, said: “The Fiat 500 is a car that spreads cheer and happiness everywhere it goes, so it’s fitting that it should be there for you to ensure your Christmas celebrations go without a glitch.”

Yeah, sure, but as every son of a nutcracker knows, the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear. Still, a Fiat 500 loaded with Sellotape and gift tags is a close second to singing. Unless the Fiat ‘elf’ turns up singing, in which case this is like all of your Christmas dreams coming true at once.

All hashtag requests will be monitored and processed from 5pm to 10.30pm on Christmas Eve, but a request is no guarantee that a delivery will take place.

Those who find themselves wrapped up in a crisis need to use the #WrappedbyFiat hashtag and state ‘Help me!’ on Twitter and Instagram. A postcode is required.

We suspect Fiat won’t want to hear from you if you’ve forgotten to buy the cranberry sauce, failed to buy the sherry for Aunt Flo or you’re looking for a lift back from the nightclub.

500 Spiaggina 58

Spiaggina 58 – the latest uber-cool Fiat 500

 

500 Spiaggina 58

The Spiaggina 58 is the latest special in a long line of bespoke 500s. The models appeal clearly isn’t waining even in its 11th year in production.

If you google “La Dolce Vita” a few things come up. First, the cult classic movie from 1961 and second, the phrase born of the film’s name that it cemented, meaning something like “The good life, full of pleasure and indulgence” or, literally translated from Italian: “the sweet life”.

That’s exactly what this charming new Fiat 500 special edition wishes to embody, along with celebrating a couple of anniversaries and the era in which the original cultivated its icon. The new Spiaggina 58 celebrates both the 60th anniversary of the first 500 special – the Jolly Spiaggina – and the year of that special’s birth.

What’s changed?

This 1,958-limited production run car is packed with distinctive details that mark it out as a Spiaggina 58.

First and foremost, that exclusive colour – Volare Blue. Fiat describes it as “a name and colour that takes us straight back to 1958, to the Sanremo Festival of that year, when a young Domenico Modugno teamed up with Johnny Dorelli to give the first public performance of “Nel blu dipinto di blu”, the famous song also known as Volare”.

As well as the colour and the “white belt liner”, you’ll notice the ultra-cool retro wheels and Fiat badging, along with the convertible-only configuration and two-tone cabin.

While the production special edition joins a host of different 500 specials and specifications, the show car – developed by Garage Italia and Pininfarina – goes even further to capture the spirit of the original Spiaggina Jolly spirit. A roll hoop, folding tailgate and decking evoke the original Spiaggina “Beach Buggy” build by Carrozzeria Ghia.

Whether customers will be rallying their Spiaggina 58 500Cs across sun-blasted sandy beaches this summer remains to be seen. Regardless, the new special serves as a pleasant reminder of the rich heritage and cultural significance of the original model.

A heart-over-head buy, perhaps, but then the modern 500 has always majored on fashion and coolness, so what harm is there in yet another romanticised special edition? La Dolce Vita indeed.

Read more:

The 2 millionth Fiat 500

Fiat has now built 2 million new 500 city cars

The 2 millionth Fiat 500The success story of the new Fiat 500 continues, with the company announcing the two millionth reborn retro city car has been produced at the factory in Tychy, Poland.

The total comes 11 years after the current car was introduced. Although it’s been updated several times, it’s still the original recreation, making its current sales rate of over 200,000 a year even more impressive.

Indeed, for five years running, the 500 has been the best-selling city car in Europe, despite the constant arrival of newer rivals. Last year, it had a market share of almost 15 percent, and the latest quarterly sales of almost 60,000 is actually an all-time record.

The Fiat 500 is the favourite city car of the UK, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. It’s also a top-three in Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

It’s fair to say Europeans still love the Fiat 500.

They also love special edition 500s, it seems: there have been 30 of them in the 11 years the new car’s been on sale. UK 500 prices may well start from £11,620, but many buyers are still happy to spend plenty more on top.

Current specials include the Collezione, which is a follow-on from last year’s 500-60th and Anniversario models, built to mark 60 years of the 500.

The new car still has some way to go to beat sales of the original 500, though. Twice as many were sold following its introduction in 1957, although in fairness, rivals were far fewer in number back then. Whether Fiat decides to keep the current car in production for another decade in order to chase the original’s sales figure remains to be seen…

Fiat Chrysler could axe all diesel cars by 2022

Fiat Chrysler could axe all diesel cars by 2022

Fiat Chrysler could axe all diesel cars by 2022

Fiat Chrysler is expected to announce plans to ditch all diesel engines from its line-up as soon as 2022.

That’s according to reports ahead of a four-year plan set to be revealed in June. FCA, which includes Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Jeep in its portfolio, is currently facing lawsuits in America for allegedly using defeat devices to reduce emissions in official tests – in a similar way Volkswagen Group did, triggering the Dieselgate scandal.

FCA isn’t the first manufacturer to announce plans to ditch diesel engines. Just last week, Porsche announced that it would be dropping diesels from its range (although it insisted that might not be permanent), while Volvo revealed its move away from diesel last year by saying that all its cars would feature some form of electrification by 2019.

Diesel has been falling out of favour in recent years, with registrations of diesel cars dropping by 17 percent in the UK in 2017. The decline has been attributed to ongoing concerns over emissions, worries about legislation and even uncertainty over reliability. It’s not just private buyers worried about diesel, either – even company car drivers are shifting away from the fuel.

Data from Jato Dynamics reveals that sales of diesel vehicles across Europe fell by eight percent last year, reducing its market share to 43.8 percent.

However, FCA actually witnessed a rise in its share of diesel sales last year – mainly because of its popularity in Italy, where demand for diesel remains strong.

Although the forthcoming announcement is likely to detail FCA pulling diesel engines from all its passenger cars, the company will continue to provide a choice of diesel engines for its commercial vehicles.

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30-second news: this €5 coin celebrates 60 years of the Fiat 500

30-second news: this €5 coin celebrates 60 years of the Fiat 500

30-second news: this €5 coin celebrates 60 years of the Fiat 500

The Italian State Mint has released a limited-run €5 coin to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Fiat 500.

An original 1957 Fiat 500 features on one side of the coin along with the current model, along with the words ‘Repubblica Italiana’ (Italian Republic). The reverse shows the profile of a classic 500 with the dates 1957 and 2017 – the year the first Fiat 500 was produced and the year the coin was minted – as well as the coin’s €5 face value.

Although the coin is only worth €5 if you spend it in shops, collectors will need to pay €40 if they wish to order it directly from the Italian Mint. Only 4,000 of the coins will be produced.

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