The Fiat 500 Returns as the Anti-Cybertruck
The 500e will deliver a nice jolt when you hit the accelerator (do not call it a gas pedal, thank you) and sprint to 60 mph in a brisk 8.5 seconds.
The Fiat 500 and Tesla Cybertruck appear to be cosmically intertwined.
Sales of Fiat’s microcar were discontinued in the United States in 2019, just as the wraps were coming off of the Cybertruck concept.
Four years later, the production Cybertruck is finally here. But what’s that hiding behind it?
Fiat has announced the 500’s return to the U.S. and it has something in common with Tesla’s pickup.
The all-new, but still very retro car will be offered only as the all-electric Fiat 500e when it hits the streets early next year.
Gasoline-powered versions are sold in other countries, but since Americans didn’t buy many of them them before, Fiat’s not even going to bother trying this time around.
However, while the cute Italian-built 500e might turn heads like the Cybertruck, it won’t be able to turn nearly as many miles.
The two-door is being offered in one version that has a driving range of just 149 miles per charge, compared to the Cybertruck’s 340 miles. That makes it more of a city runabout than a cross-country cruiser, assuming you have somewhere at home to plug it in.
If not, you’ll have to stop at a public fast charging station and wait around for 35 minutes while the battery fills up to 80 percent. Fast chargers typically reduce their power and slow down the charge after that to prevent damaging the batteries. Hopefully there’s a cappuccino bar nearby.
The 500e will deliver a nice jolt when you hit the accelerator (do not call it a gas pedal, thank you) and sprint to 60 mph in a brisk 8.5 seconds. Do that too often and you may have to switch the car to its uniquely named Sherpa Mode, which reduces the power and limits the top speed to 50 mph to maximize efficiency and help you stretch what’s left in the battery pack until you find another charger or outlet.
Drive slowly enough and the vehicle starts playing a classical-style composition that was written for it to alert pedestrians of its presence, rather than the hums and beeps used by electric cars that don’t know how to live La Dolce Vita.
If this all sounds a bit like a novelty, it is. And not a cheap one.
The 500e will start at $34,095 when it hits showrooms early next year and, as an import, it won’t be eligible for any federal purchase tax credits, although a loophole in the program will allow them to be wrapped into a yet-to-be announced lease price. The much larger Nissan Leaf delivers the same 149-mile range for $29,255 and qualifies for a $3,750 credit, thanks to it being built in Tennessee.
Fiat’s plan to add value to the 500e involves treating it like a fashion product that will be released in limited-edition “drops” featuring different collaborations. Think about those lines around the block at the Nike store whenever new Air Jordans are released. That’s the kind of hype it’s hoping to create.
The first is a color-appropriate (RED) Edition that will raise money for The Global Fund with every purchase. The car is decked out in a monochromatic classic Italian red paint job, red dashboard and red-stitched commemorative logos in the seats.
Fiat hasn’t announced future models, but it has previously worked with high end Italian design houses like Gucci, Bulgari, Armani, and Kartell. It also hasn’t said how many of each edition will be made, but they will be exclusive in more ways than one.
Fiat is discontinuing its only current U.S. market model, the 500X SUV, next year. That will leave the 500e as the only car at its 350-plus showrooms. Don’t worry, you don’t even have to go to one until you’re ready to pick yours up.
Instead, you’ll be able to visit a Fiat Live Store in the metaverse where an agent will help you configure and order your car in a virtual setting that will be accessible from your phone while you’re sitting in one of those cappuccino bars. It’s not exactly Tesla’s direct sales model, but it’s as close as a legacy automaker can get under franchise laws.
Metaverse? Cybertruck? Who knew things would get so futuristic in four years?