The New Fiat 500e Could Make City EVs Work for America

By 7 Min Read

Affordable electric city cars haven’t caught on in the US. It’s a shame, because if you live in a large city like Miami where traffic is unrelenting, public transportation is piss-poor, and most things are just out of a reasonable walking distance, having a tiny EV for around-town use makes a lot of sense.

If any brand can make the city EV work in the US—especially in a city like Miami—it’s Fiat. And I know, the first-generation 500e wasn’t exactly a hot seller. But this new one feels like a fully fleshed-out product, not a compliance car with a barely usable amount of range.

Quick Specs 2024 Fiat 500e Inspi(Red)
Battery 42.0-Kilowatt-Hour Lithium-Ion
Motor Single Front-Mounted
Output 117 Horsepower / 162 Pound-Feet
Range 149 Miles
Weight 2,952 Pounds
Price $34,095

This 500e will drive up to 149 miles on a single charge, which is pretty good given its 42.0-kilowatt-hour battery pack (39.0-kWh usable) and single front-mounted electric motor. There’s a modest 117 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque on tap, which is enough for a 0-30 mph sprint of 3.1 seconds—all the speed you’ll need around town. Getting to 60 mph takes a much slower 8.5 seconds.

But the 500e certainly isn’t underpowered. It has enough torque for hurrying off stoplights and overtaking easily at city speeds. There is a one-pedal “Range” mode, but the amount of regen isn’t adjustable. It’s either on or off. And a second, oddly named “Sherpa” mode shuts off things like the A/C in case the range is really low. But Fiat admits that Sherpa mode is almost exclusively for range emergencies

Being one of the lightest EVs on sale today certainly helps with acceleration. The 500e only weighs 2,952 pounds, just a few hundred pounds more than the BMW i3 (2,630 pounds) that debuted way back in 2013. Compare that to the latest Tesla Model 3 (3,862 pounds) and the Hyundai Ioniq 6 (3,935 pounds), and the Fiat is a lightweight.

2024 Fiat 500e First Drive Review

Pros: Cute As Heck, Zippy Around Town, More Affordable Than Its Predecessor

The new 500e is relatively tiny, too. It’s only 2.4 inches longer than the previous model, which means it’s about half as long as a Ford F-150 and just three-quarters the width. Its diminutive size makes it easy (and kinda fun) to rip around town. The tight two-lane roads of downtown Miami are no match for the 500e’s darting and weaving abilities. It’s genuinely spunky; the steering is quick and responsive, and the compact wheelbase gives it that kart-like character you expect of something this small.

And it looks cute doing it. The previous 500e was cute too, but this one has the sort of premium, Avant-garde styling Italian manufacturers are known for. It’s like a handbag on wheels. Rounded LED headlights and a happy face “grille” give the 500e its bubbly personality. And instead of a traditional Fiat badge on the front end, it has a chic 500 logo instead.

In general, the 500e feels much nicer from behind the wheel than its predecessor ever was. The former 500e had an uncomfortable perched driving position, but this new model’s steering wheel and cloth thrones offer better support and adjustability. It’s like you’re actually sitting in the chairs rather than on top of them—a novel concept.

2024 Fiat 500e First Drive Review
2024 Fiat 500e First Drive Review

It’s a shame, though, that the cabin isn’t nearly as premium as the exterior looks. The base Inspi(Red) model offered first in the US has cheap cloth seats and hard plastics everywhere. Even the headliner feels extremely cheap. More premium trims with faux leather and nicer finishes will arrive in the US at a later date.

A 10.3-inch touchscreen with the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system comes standard, as does a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster. Things like automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and traffic sign recognition all come standard, too.

2024 Fiat 500e First Drive Review

Cons: Limited Range (For Most Americans), Cheap Interior

In terms of charging, the 500e will get you from 10 to 80 percent in 35 minutes on an 85-kilowatt DC fast charger. Those aren’t exactly blistering speeds, but enough to refill the 149 miles of range in time to get you back on the road quickly. It should be noted that the 500e currently has a CCS charging port, but like all future Stellantis models, it will switch to NACS come 2025. And that’s enough range, Fiat figures, for you to be happy with the 500e as your second car.

The CEO of Fiat Automobiles, Olivier Francois, even admits the 500e isn’t a one-car solution. “[Our ambition] is not to replace your sedan or SUV, our ambition is to inspire,” he says. “It’s the ultimate fashion expression for your driveway. So this will not be the mass EV for everyone everywhere, no.”

2024 Fiat 500e First Drive Review

Considering the new 500e is actually cheaper than the one it replaces, Fiat’s thinking makes sense. The 2024 model starts at $34,095 with the $1,595 destination fee included, compared to the previous car, which cost $34,705. It’s even more enticing as a lease when you remember the 500e is eligible for up to $7,500 worth of tax credits—so that $34,000 starting price would be closer to $26,000.

The 2024 Fiat 500e still probably won’t appeal to a mass audience, mainly here in the US with just 149 miles of range. But as a second or third car, the electric 500 makes a lot of sense. Especially if you can snag one for cheap.

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