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Fiat doubles down on electrification in Europe; no word on North American plans

Fiat has doubled down on electrification, at least for Europe. During Stellantis’ EV Day, the Italian brand has announced that its next future lineup will be battery-electric with the first model, the new-generation 500 hatchback, already on the streets. This will be followed by a full range of light commercial vehicles, which will have battery-electric and fuel cell powertrains by 2022. Between 2023 and 2024 every Fiat model will be available with a battery-electric option. Its performance arm, Abarth, will switch to battery-electric vehicles in 2024.

Affordability remains one of Fiat’s focuses as it electrifies its lineup. Olivier Francois, CEO of Fiat, says that between 2025 and 2030, the accessibility of electric vehicles should come to the level of current internal combustion models. “Electricity enhances Fiat,” added Francois. “There’s no need to reinvent the brand because Fiat going electric is the perfect fit.” Simplicity will be the key driving force for the Italian brand’s move toward an electrified lineup because it aims to make the technology more accessible to the average consumer.

As for its Abarth division, Fiat didn’t disclose which electrified models will be the first to get the high-performance treatment. If we were to take a stab at it, the new all-electric Fiat 500 will be the first to get a hot variant wearing the Scorpion badge. That could offer more power to go with the reworked suspension, stickier tires, and other modifications to help it corner better and be ready for track duty.

One of the key highlights of the Fiat presentation is that it focuses specifically on the European market. In a way, this hints that the brand will likely have a smaller presence in North America, something that’s already happening with the lineup now being reduced to just one model, the 500X crossover. In other markets, Fiat offers a plug-in hybrid variant of the 500X, sharing the same 1.3-liter turbo-four-based powertrain as the Renegade 4xe in 190 hp and 237 hp flavors. That may still come to North America but at this point, the likelihood has gotten smaller because of its reduced presence.

In the European market, Fiat’s full lineup also includes utility vehicles like the Panda, which comes in standard and off-road-oriented Cross flavors, the Tipo hatchback, the 500X, 500L, and a 500 electric hatchback with suicide doors for added practicality. Those are all expected to go electric with the all-electric 500 hatchback models and the Panda consisting of the bulk of sales.

Fiat’s focus on Europe indicates that it’s now their primary region. With a smaller presence in North America and no word for a strategy regarding other markets, it appears Fiat may have become a smaller player within the Stellantis umbrella. With its specialty being small cars, Fiat’s appeal is limited, especially in the United States, which is heavily biased toward crossovers, SUVs, trucks, and other large vehicles.

It makes sense that Europe is now Fiat’s main focus. That market has an extensive charging network and there’s more demand for small vehicles due to tight urban areas and strict emissions regulations. Does this mean Fiat will eventually exit the North American market again? Possibly. But if it doesn’t, we’ll likely get an all-electric successor to the 500X or another crossover to maximize appeal to a broader range of consumers.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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