“For our future product plan, we need the right balance between the two dimensions: the Fiat 500 family and family transportation. There will be no big cars, no premium cars, no sporty cars because they have no legitimacy,” said François. “We will be present in the C-segment [Ford Focus class] but not much more. All models will sit within 3.5m and 4.5m. This is where Fiat will play. We need more EVs. And we need more 500 models that look legitimate enough to take higher pricing.”
Autocar now understands that the new electric 500 will make use of a space-maximising ‘suicide’ door arrangement, as our image (above) suggests. As on the BMW i3, a pair of small rear hinged rear doors are expected to be used to improve access and allow the model to compete with premium superminis such as the five-door Mini. The move also reflects a significant decline in the sales of three-door cars in recent years.
In addition, Fiat will replace the 500X SUV but not the slow-selling 500L MPV. Instead, the 500 Giardiniera estate announced at Fiat’s 2018 investor conference will appear as a bigger, five-door C-segment model with plenty of 500 character and a stylishly opulent interior.
The fresh range of family-oriented models will be led by the new Panda, which is likely to be based on the highly acclaimed Centoventi concept. François said its “looks are very faithful to the next-generation Panda”. The new Panda should appear in 2021, and two years after that, an electric version will be launched with modular, add-on battery packs to keep its price low.
The Tipo will also be replaced, probably by an SUV, given François’s desire for more such models. It may well be based on the Jeep Renegade platform, which will be shared with the Alfa Romeo Tonale and provide a plug-in hybrid option. The new Fiat SUV will be designed in the mould of the Centoventi and the base version will be sold at a keen price with plenty of scope to add options.