Fiat is 120 years old, and for the Geneva Motor Show the Italian automaker is presenting an electric concept car that celebrates the brand’s “democratic mobility” charge while providing a glimpse of what that idea could mean in the future.
The carmaker started with a boxy-hatchback design that looks like it used the iconic 1980s Fiat Panda as a jumping-off point. The Centoventi blends Italian design with a “less is more” concept and what Fiat terms “rugged, compact, almost monolithic proportions, with dimensions that make the most of every space.”
The little hatchback is about 145 inches long, 69 inches wide, and 60 inches high, with a wheelbase of about 96 inches. That yields a cabin good for four—with seats made of 100-percent recycled yarn—and the rear seats have a retractable bench that can add load capacity by turning into another “trunk.”
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Otherwise, the Centoventi aims for a “blank canvas” approach to the car, with the customer able to choose from four roofs, four bumpers, four types of wheel covers, and four wraps. Interiors can also be configured with accessories.
And oh, there are a lot of accessories—including a total of 114 specially designed by Mopar (yes, this is an odd break from tradition and heritage). The customization possibilities include also include cupholders that can be 3D-printed, and Lego-like holes that can accept additional dashboard components, like a glove compartment or cooler.
Fiat Concept Centoventi concept
One instrument-panel choice makes the smartphone the centerpoint, with a 10-inch gauge cluster. A second choice keeps that gauge cluster but adds a 20-inch display with integrated driver aids (and a smaller screen facing outward for car-sharing messages.)
Fiat offered few details about the powertrain, but it says that a factory-supplied battery allows a 62-mile (100-km) range, while the car can hold up to 3 additional batteries in a sliding rail, plus another under the seat, for a total of 311 miles (500 km).
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The charge port is at the base of the windshield, equidistant from either side, and an available solar panel can generate up to 50 watts.
With the Fiat 500e near the end of its life cycle, we asked Fiat Chrysler about the chances of such a vehicle being offered in the U.S. Company spokesman Bryan Zvibleman told Green Car Reports that “at this stage it is too early to discuss as it is a concept.”
FCA plans four new fully electric Jeep variants by 2022. Meanwhile there haven’t been a lot of details on how Fiat is going to electrify its lineup. Former CEO Sergio Marchionne, who had bluntly pointed out that the company was losing in the range of $10,000 per 500e electric hatchback, noted last year that its plan was “to focus the Fiat brand on products that are able to cover the cost of the new electrified technologies.” It would seem that philosophy applies here—where, as with Mini and formerly Scion, brands are able to recoup the costs of more technology by getting people excited about customization and individuality.
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In a further statement from Zvibleman, FCA details: “We continue to offer four models in North America: the 500, 500X, 500L and the 124 Spider. As outlined in the five-year-plan on June 1, 2018, Fiat (together with Chrysler and Dodge) will get 25 percent of investment spend and will represent 20 percent of net revenues.”
The Panda never sold in the U.S., but given FCA’s apparent desire to move on from the grist of the 500e, the Centoventi could be the way to create a stylish small car that’s simple but eye-catching—one that might actually make money.