Fiat’s 500e returns as a stylish and affordable small EV

Front three quarter view of the 2024 Fiat 500e.

The 2024 Fiat 500e marks the return of an EV that its maker once told Americans not to buy. Fiat certainly thought the timing wasn’t right for that original 500e, but the timing of the new version, which is due to arrive in early 2024, seems impeccable.

The first Fiat 500e was sold only in California and Oregon, and was built solely to meet California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate. Early EV enthusiasts took a liking to it, thanks to its affordable price and retro styling borrowed from the concurrent gasoline 500 model. But Sergio Marchionne, then head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (predecessor to current Fiat parent Stellantis), said the company lost money on each car and once announced he hoped customers would not buy it.

This time the circumstances are different. First shown in 2021 and already on sale in Europe, the new 500e is still a modern interpretation of the classic 1950s Fiat 500. But instead of being a converted gasoline car, it was designed from the start as an EV. And Fiat isn’t building this version just to satisfy regulators. This time it is not even making a gasoline version.

While larger than the previous-generation 500, which was last sold in gasoline guise in the US in 2019, the 2024 500e is still a small car. And weighing 2,952 pounds in launch spec, it’s one of the lightest EVs on sale, notes Fiat. That’s less than the similarly smaller Mini Cooper SE, and that’s refreshing given the trend toward increasingly bulky electric trucks and SUVs. Think of it as the anti-Hummer EV.

A single electric motor sends 118 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels, which will propel the 500e to a top speed of 94 mph. The 42 kilowatt-hour battery pack provides an estimated 149 miles of range. A Combined Charging Standard (CCS) connector allows DC fast charging at up to 85 kW, which is enough for an 80% charge in 35 minutes. A full charge using a Level 2 AC home charge takes four hours and 15 minutes.

The 500e gets the expected tech features, but not much more. A standard 10.25-inch touchscreen runs the same Uconnect 5 infotainment system as other Stellantis models with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Amazon Alexa features. Basic driver-assistance features like automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist are also standard.

Fiat will launch the 500e in a single “(RED Edition)” spec in partnership with (RED), the AIDS charity co-founded by U2 front man Bono. Its price is $34,095. Similar to fashion product drops, other variants will be launched as limited releases from time to time. Fiat also plans to move at least some of the purchasing process online while retaining its traditional franchised dealer network.

The new 500e arrives at a time when small, affordable EVs are in short supply. It will certainly be different from the rest of Stellantis’ planned North American EV lineup, which also includes a Ram pickup truck, Dodge muscle car, and some Jeep SUVs. So while the original 500e may have been ahead of its time, this new version doesn’t arrive a moment too early.

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