New Fiat 500 electric car: prices, spec and on-sale date

The all-new Fiat 500 takes a step upmarket with solely electric power; prices at launch start at £29,000

This is the all-new Fiat 500 – it's a ground-up replacement for the outgoing model, and will only available with a pure-electric powertrain. Fiat claims the new car is the world’s first fully electric four-seater convertible, as well as being the first city car with 'Level 2' autonomous driving features.

A brand-new car rather than a facelift of the current model, the latest 500 is more practical and features more on-board technology than that car. Its design is familiar, but has shifted noticeably upmarket.

Sleeker, more minimalist touches to the exterior and a much more luxurious interior are particular highlights, while a ‘500’ badge now takes pride of place on the car’s nose, highlighted in blue to signify the electrification underneath.

Thanks to its more mature looks and luxurious execution, the new 500 is pitched as a rival to other ‘posh’ small electric cars like the Honda e, BMW i3 and MINI Electric.

UK pricing starts at £29,000 (including the plug-in grant) for the top-spec, launch-edition La Prima convertible model, with online pre-orders now being taken. No customer delivery dates have been announced.

Power comes from an 117bhp electric motor, fed by a 42kWh battery that can provide a claimed range of up just under 199 miles. Accelerating from 0-62mph takes nine seconds, while 0-31mph takes just 3.1 seconds and top speed is limited to a shade over 92mph.

Claimed charging times are rapid thanks to the car’s 85kW on-board charger; Fiat says it takes just 35 minutes to achieve an 80% charge, or just five minutes to store enough energy for a 50-kilometre (31-mile) trip. Fiat will offer the 500 with its Easy Wallbox, a 3kW home charger that can be upgraded to 7.4kW if required.

The new pure-electric Fiat 500 gets a lot of new technology. The car can be operated in three driving modes: Normal, Range and the interestingly titled Sherpa. The latter can adjust the car’s maximum speed, throttle response and climate-control to maximise efficiency and range.

Normal mode is described as being ‘as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a normal combustion engine’, while Range mode allows for one-pedal operation and maximises regenerative braking.

Remarkably, in place of the usual synthesised noise required to alert pedestrians of the car’s presence, the 500 plays music from the classic Italian film Amarcord, composed by Nino Rota. This feature, Fiat says, will be "available later" rather than included at launch.

The 'Level 2' autonomous equipment fitted to the new 500 includes adaptive cruise control, lane centring, road-sign recognition and a blind-spot warning system, plus a driver attention assist feature and 360-degree parking sensors.

Fiat has also fitted the 500 with its latest Uconnect 5 infotainment setup – an Android-based system displayed on a 10.25-inch touchscreen. It features Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, plus integration with a telematics box that can automatically call the emergency services, or be used to monitor the car (or control certain functions) remotely using a smartphone app.

No new petrol Fiat 500

The 500's new upmarket image has been pushed home by the creation of a number of one-off versions produced in conjunction with high-end design houses Giorgio Armani, Bvlgari and Kartell. Each is to be auctioned off for charity.

Previously, Fiat has said there are no plans to offer a petrol-powered alternative. According to chief marketing officer Olivier Francois, a premium approach “is the way we will go with the EV 500".

"A new 500, totally renewed,” he said. “A new object. Totally electric. It’s kind of an urban Tesla, with beautiful style. Italian-ness, dolce vita in an electric car. It’s the polar opposite of Centoventi.”

Despite the visual similarities with the existing petrol 500, it has been confirmed that the electric model sits on an entirely new platform. “It’s a new platform designed for electrification,” Francois added. “It makes the car radically different. It’s still a 500 – same size, same proportions – but it’s just not the same car. The 500 of the future”.

Francois also confirmed that the current-generation 500 would continue to be sold, offering customers a cheaper route into ownership. An Abarth version of the electric 500 hasn't been ruled out, although there are no plans for one at this stage.

Over two million examples of the Fiat 500 have been sold since its launch in 2005. However, the Italian company has decided to seize the initiative with the emergence of electric technology. Fiat has invested €700 million (£630 million approx) in its Mirafiori plant in Turin, which will eventually be capable of building 80,000 battery-electric vehicles a year.