Fiat has announced its plans to reintroduce the Fiat 500e to the US market, positioning small electric cars as both environmentally friendly and trendy. This move comes after Fiat discontinued the previous version of the 500e due to slow sales in 2019. In a bid to create excitement around the brand, Fiat showcased three concept cars at the LA Auto Show in 2022, designed by renowned Italian companies. The reintroduction of the Fiat 500e aligns with the growing popularity of electric vehicles in the United States and Fiat’s strategy to embrace electrification.
After a 30-year hiatus, Fiat made a comeback in the US market in 2011 with the Fiat 500. The company aimed to capture the American market by promoting the Fiat 500 as a desirable product, hoping it would sell as well as “ice cream and pasta,” as expressed by former Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. However, the combination of American consumers’ preference for larger vehicles and declining gasoline prices resulted in disappointing sales.
Fiat fell short of its target of selling 50,000 units annually, with only around 46,000 Fiat 500 units sold in its best year of 2014. Sales continued to decline, with just 15,521 units sold in 2019. In recent years, however, fuel prices have increased significantly in the US, and there has been a rise in demand for electric vehicles, providing a new opportunity for the Fiat 500e.
Three Italian Concept Studies:
To generate interest in the brand and showcase the potential of the Fiat 500e, Fiat presented three concept cars at the 2022 LA Auto Show. These studies were designed by prominent Italian companies, including Giorgio Armani, Kartell, and Bulgari.
- Giorgio Armani’s 500e: Giorgio Armani’s concept features a special grey-green paint that possesses antibacterial properties and can filter pollutants when exposed to UV light. The car’s amber-colored windows complement the paint, providing a visually harmonious design. Inside, the vehicle showcases leather upholstery sourced from Poltrona Frau, an esteemed Italian furniture manufacturer.
- Kartell’s 500e: Kartell’s concept incorporates its signature blue shade, reminiscent of the famous Yves Klein blue. The design draws inspiration from Kartell’s Kabuki lamp, featuring a radiator grille and dashboard design influenced by the lamp’s surface design. The car’s interior fabrics are made from recycled polypropylene, showcasing Kartell’s commitment to sustainability.
- Bulgari’s B.500 MAI TROPPO: Bulgari’s concept, named B.500 MAI TROPPO, boasts a saffron-colored pearlescent varnish infused with gold scraps from the jeweler’s manufacturing process. Silk scarves from previous collections adorn the dashboard, adding a touch of luxury. Additionally, a removable brooch embellished with three semi-precious stones (amethyst, topaz, and citrine) is placed on the steering wheel, showcasing Bulgari’s craftsmanship.
In 2024, Fiat plans to launch the new Fiat 500e in the US, recognizing the favorable market conditions, such as high fuel prices and the increasing popularity of electric mobility. Fiat sees the 500e as a key vehicle in its electrification strategy for the entire brand, particularly in the United States. By reintroducing the Fiat 500e, Fiat aims to reestablish its presence in the US market and capitalize on the growing demand for electric vehicles. The three concept cars showcased at the LA Auto Show serve as a preview of the design possibilities and lifestyle appeal of the upcoming Fiat 500e.