Fiat 500 electric spied testing

Electric Fiat 500 spotted testing ahead of big reveal at 2020 Geneva Motor Show

The forthcoming electric Fiat 500 has been spied testing in Germany, with the car set to launch at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show and hit production in the second quarter of next year.

The test mule’s camouflage gives little away in terms of design, and while a fresh look is expected, it’s not thought that the electric 500 will depart from the styling that has made the car an icon for decades.

That said, the test car seen here might not be representative of the incoming electric model at all: the rear tail-light signature is reminiscent of a previous generation of the vehicle from around 2014, suggesting that Fiat is developing its electric powertrain in some old bodywork for the time being.

The car’s charging port is just about visible under the wrap: it isn’t clear if the car is sporting a Type 2 socket or CCS socket suitable for rapid charging, although the latter would make more sense for its premium target market.

Previously, Fiat has said the electric 500 will be a luxury-focused city car, and 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. Italianess, dolce vita in an electric car. It’s the polar opposite of Centoventi.”

The Fiat Centoventi – an electric concept celebrating the 120th anniversary of the Italian company – was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019. It previewed the next-generation Panda supermini, offering extendable range and a high level of customisation to buyers.

It’s not clear if the forthcoming Panda and 500 would use the same platform, although Francois confirmed the latter would sit on an entirely new base.

“It’s a new platform designed for electrification,” he said. “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”.

With the electric Fiat 500 set to take the luxury, premium path, it’s almost certain this approach will be reflected in the price tag. The current, internal-combustion-engined model starts from just over £12,000 in the UK, however the new car could command an asking price more in keeping with the pricier, limited-edition versions of the 500 offered in recent years.

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.

Work on the assembly line for the forthcoming Fiat 500 electric is underway, with production set to begin in the first half of 2020. 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 per year.