Fiat 500e may be re-engineered to run on petrol – report

The Italian automaker is considering a plan to adapt the electric-only Fiat 500e to accept an internal combustion engine.

Unlike other recently introduced Stellantis vehicles, such as the new Dodge Charger, which ride on an “electric first architecture”, but were designed with internal combustion engine support in mind, the 500e was envisaged as an electric-only model by Fiat Chrysler.

Sources have told Automotive News Europe Fiat is considering re-engineering the 500e to work with a mild hybrid petrol drivetrain, likely the 52kW 1.0-litre three-cylinder Firefly engine already available in the older 500 and Panda.

Two main factors have forced Fiat to contemplate this.

Firstly, the current petrol-powered Fiat 500, which made its debut way back in 2007, won’t be compliant with the European Union’s safety and cybersecurity rules, which come into force from July this year.

The company could’ve chosen to update the 500, but decided to invest in making the Panda compliant instead. In Europe the Panda outsold the petrol 500 by 125,834 to 104,590 in 2023.

Around 80 per cent of Panda sales took place in Italy, where its five-seat capacity, tiny 3.6m-long footprint, and low price make it a very attractive proposition.

Secondly, sales of the 500e flatlined in 2023. Launched in 2020, sales of the 500e hit roughly 77,500 in 2022. After predicting it would shift 90,000 in 2023, the company only sold 77,260 diminutive electric hatchbacks last year.

Suppliers told the industry publication a petrol-powered 500e could boost production at the Mirafiori plant, on the outskirts of Turin, by 100,000 units a year.

Stellantis, as the only volume manufacturer in Italy, has been under heavy government pressure to maintain or grow its production presence in the country.

Even if Fiat decides to go ahead and begin work shoehorning 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine into the 500e, the mild hybrid 500e won’t be available for sale until late 2025 or early 2026.

This will leave a gap in Fiat lineup for about a year. To compensate Fiat has extended the petrol 500’s production run at its Tychy factory in Poland until the end of June in order to build up stocks. After that the production line will be moved to Algeria, where the car will be built for markets in Africa and the Middle East.

In Italy the 500 starts from €17,700 ($29,400), while the 500e has a usual list price of €29,950 ($49,700), although it is currently on sale for €24,600 ($40,800) until the end of the month.

The more practical Panda undercuts both models, with a base price of €15,500 ($25,700).

MORE: Everything Fiat 500e

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