When Fiat took control of the former Chrysler Group after its bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, late CEO Sergio Marchionne decided 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 California’s new zero-emission vehicle mandates, the decision was made to build a battery-electric version. After years of slow and declining sales, the 500 was dropped here in 2019, when the new generation was launched in Europe, and it looks like Fiat will be scrapping it again. But this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Fiat announced that the second-generation 500e will arrive in North America in early 2024.
Despite offering the original 500e to meet regulatory requirements, Marchionne has publicly urged people not to buy it because the company allegedly lost $14,000 on each one. Like most other non-Tesla EVs, when the 500e launched in 2013, it didn’t have much range, with just 87 miles listed on the EPA label. Given the 500e’s smaller size, it made a great city commuter, but still isn’t much use for road trips. In its peak years, the 500e accounted for more than a quarter of 500 sales in the U.S. and eventually eclipsed sales of gas models by more than half.
With the sales of cars, especially small cars, in recent years, it was no surprise that Stellantis did not bring the second generation 500 to North America. In fact, it was a bit of a disappointment, as most people who tested the original 500e found it to be the best option to drive. While the 500 Abarth was nominally faster, the sound it made didn’t match its speed. The 500e, on the other hand, was quiet and took advantage of instant electric torque while the battery maintained its center of gravity for better handling.
The new 500 stick comes with an updated version of the retro design theme and interestingly, it hasn’t grown in size compared to the previous edition. Unlike the original, the second generation was designed with an electric option that, combined with better energy density and packaging, the new 500e is able to offer almost twice the range.
At this time, Stellantis is not revealing any North American market features of the 500e. However, in Europe, the new 500e will be offered with two battery capacities, 24-kWh and 42-kWh. We’ll probably only see the larger battery version here, which has a range rating of 199 miles in Europe’s WLTP test cycle. The EPA mark and real-world range will probably be closer to 145 to 150 miles. For city commuters that should be more than enough.
The European-spec 500e has slightly more power and torque than before with 116bhp and 162lb-ft, so performance should be modestly better. Given the modest 24kWh battery in the old model, Fiat was not limited to DC fast charging capability and AC charging at 6.6kW. The new 500e charges up to 11kW in AC and 85kW in DC.
A production-intentioned version for North America is scheduled to debut a year later at the 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show. In addition to announcing the 500e’s return to America, Fiat also revealed three 500e concepts created by fashion houses Giorgio Armani, Kartell, and Bvlgari, none of which will go into production.