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Fiat 500e Returns To America In 2024

When Fiat took control of the former Chrysler Group in the wake of its bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, the late CEO Sergio Marchionne decided it was a good time to bring the Italian brand back to North America after a decades-long absence. The then new, retro styled 500 would be the entry point and with new zero-emission vehicle mandates being imposed in California, the decision was made to create a battery electric variant. After years of slow and declining sales, the 500 was dropped here in 2019 when a new generation was launched in Europe and it appeared that Fiat would be phased out again. But this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Fiat announced that the second generation 500e will come to North America in early 2024.

Despite offering the original 500e to meet regulatory requirements, Marchionne famously urged people not to buy it because the company supposedly lost $14,000 on every one. Like most of the other non-Tesla EVs available when the 500e launched in 2013, it didn’t have much range, with just 87 miles listed on the EPA label. Given the diminutive size of the 500e, it made a great urban commuter but wasn’t likely to be used much for road trips anyway. In its peak years, the 500e accounted for more than one-quarter of 500 sales in the US, eventually accounting for more than half as sales of gas models dwindled.

With sales of cars, especially small ones in free-fall in recent years, it was no surprise that Stellantis opted not to bring the second generation of the 500 to North America. In fact it was a bit of a disappointment because most people that tried the original 500e found it to be the best variant to drive. While the 500 Abarth was nominally quicker, the noise it made seemed way out of proportion with its speed. The 500e on the other hand was quiet and made great use of its instant-on electric torque while the battery kept the center of gravity low for better handling.

The new 500 sticks with an updated version of the retro styling theme and interestingly hasn’t really grown in size compared to the previous edition. Unlike the original, the second generation was designed with an electric variant in mind so combined with improved energy density and packaging, the new 500e is able to offer nearly twice the range.

At this point, Stellantis isn’t revealing any specs of the North American market 500e. However, in Europe, the new 500e is offered with two battery capacities, 24-kWh and 42-kWh. We’ll probably only see the larger battery version here which has a 199 mile range rating on the WLTP test cycle in Europe. The EPA label and real world range will likely be closer to 145 to 150 miles. For urban commuters that should be more than adequate.

The European spec 500e has slightly more power and torque than before at 116-hp and 162 lb-ft of torque so performance should be moderately better. Given the modest 24-kWh battery in the old model, Fiat didn’t bother including DC fast charging capability and AC charging was limited to 6.6-kW. The new 500e will charge at up to 11-kW on AC and 85-kW on DC.

The production intent version for North America is planned to be revealed a year from now at the 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show. In addition to the announcement of the 500e coming back to America, Fiat also showed off three 500e concepts created by fashion houses, Giorgio Armani, Kartell and Bvlgari none of which are intended to be produced.

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