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

Having already unveiled it in convertible form, Fiat has now pulled the covers off the new electric 500 hatchback

Fiat 500 Electric

Earlier this year, Fiat revealed its all-new, all-electric 500 city car. It was initially only available as a convertible, but the company has now unveiled the conventional hatchback variant and confirmed that UK prices will start from £26,995 (including the plug-in grant). Both models are available to order now without deposit via the Fiat website.

Like the convertible, the hatchback uses a 42kWh battery and manages a driving range of up to 199 miles. Fiat claims a five-minute charge is enough for 30 miles of range, while the batteries can be topped up to 80% in just 35 minutes using the on-board 85kW fast charge system.

New from the ground up, the chic supermini looks a lot like the old one, with a familiar face and recognisable proportions. The differences between the already-revealed convertible and the newly conceived hatch are subtle – the latter swaps the sliding fabric top for a panoramic glass roof, while there’s a new rear spoiler and a tweaked tailgate design.

Power for both cars comes from an 117bhp electric motor, fed by a 42kWh battery that helps the electric 500 accelerate from 0-62mph takes nine seconds, while 0-31mph takes just 3.1 seconds and top speed is limited to a shade over 92mph.

UK pricing starts at £26,995 for the hatchback and £29,000 (both 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.

Rivals include the new Honda e, BMW i3 and MINI Electric, while the 500 convertible will go head-to-head with the Smart EQ ForTwo Cabrio. However, with a range of almost 200 miles, the Fiat will be a much more compelling proposition for many prospective buyers. The new 500 is also more practical and features more on-board technology than its predecessor. Its design is familiar, but has shifted noticeably upmarket.

Fiat 500 electric design

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.

According to Fiat brand president Olivier Francois, the new electric 500 "has to bring new customers to the brand. The 500 has this power to pull new buyers coming from anywhere. I mean, people go from a Range Rover to a 500. They just want the thing, badly, because it’s so cool. So we thought because of this power of attraction, we really had the duty to use this to attract people to electric.”

Francois adds: "I think you’re going to have a bit of a two-fold customer. On the one hand, you'll have people who are totally new to electric, who've never had an electric car. but who are passionate about the design, the coolness, the statement that the 500 makes about who you are.

“The other aspect will be the fanatics, who are not necessarily green. It’s just people who want the 500, and they're very loyal. They have bought maybe two or three 500s over the past few years. And now, if they want the latest new car, they have to go electric as well. I think it'll be a mix of conquest and loyalty. But in both cases, our objective is the same: to convert drivers from petrol to electric."

The new 500 electric is available in three exclusive colours: pearlescent Ocean Green, metallic Mineral Grey and ‘three-layer Celestial Blue’. Available only in top-spec La Prima trim for the time being, every model gets 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats and chrome trim.

Technology

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 setting. 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.

Charging

Every 500 comes with a 3kW easyWallbox home charger, which Fiat claims stabilises energy load without the need for any kind of professional installation. Buyers can upgrade to a 7.4kW charger allowing for a full charge in “just over” six hours. The 500 also comes with the necessary cabling for 11kW public charging stations.

The fastest possible recharge is from a public fast charger, at a rate of 85kW. Fiat says doing so will return around 30 miles in five minutes, or an 80% charge in 35 minutes.

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.

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,” according to Francois. “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 (approximately £630 million) in its Mirafiori plant in Turin, which will eventually be capable of building 80,000 battery-electric vehicles a year.