lessons from the unexpected success of the Fiat 500e

Big success for the Fiat 500e! The new generation of the famous Italian city car has been on the podium of the best-selling electric cars in Europe since the beginning of the year… With 38,000 registrations in the first seven months of the year, it is behind the Model Y and Tesla Model 3. Better, it rises to first place in Germany, one of the most difficult markets in Europe and Volkswagen reserve, but also in Italy. Even combining the sales of the ID.3 and ID.4 over eight months in Europe, the German brand cannot match the performance of the small Italian.

Triple production?

At Fiat, production cannot keep up with demand. On a visit to the Mirafiori plant in Turin last week, Carlos Tavares promised to double or even triple the production of the Fiat 500e, notes the specialized website Automobile Propre. As long as the supply of semiconductors allows it.

“In Mirafiori, we could produce three times more Fiat 500e than we are currently producing. The limit is not due to the production capacity of the Mirafiori plant, nor the batteries, but the scarcity of other components. In 2021, we produced 45,000 units in Mirafiori. We could easily produce twice that and organize ourselves to produce triple that. There is no bottleneck in terms of production capacity”, explained Carlos Tavares, who added that he managed to achieve “leadership”.

This city car, heir to the Fiat 500 launched in 2007 in a purely retro style in memory of the famous “yoghurt pot” of the 60s, is the Italian group’s first true 100% electric car, but also its first commercial launch after several years without new products. Its success is due to its renewed and timeless design, but also thanks to an exceptional price positioning that allows it to be the only truly competitive European electric car compared to Chinese electric cars (MG, Aiways, Serres). Until September, it was thus presented at 25,000 euros excluding public subsidies. There was hardly a Dacia Spring to be less expensive, but that is positioned at an entry level and, by the way, produced in China.

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Little autonomy

To display this price, the Fiat 500 e decided to offer a version with a small 23 kWh battery, which gives it a range of 190 km by WLTP standards. Launched in 2021, this version already accounts for 50% of sales. Thus, the Fiat 500e assumes its role as a second car to meet the essentials of daily use (housework, commerce, leisure, etc.). On average, the French drive 40 km a day.

Above all, the Fiat 500e runs counter to the principle of increasing autonomy that car manufacturers have developed in recent years to reassure consumers, but which has led to rising prices. In a context of high inflation, this model is weakened. Tesla continues to raise prices for its Model 3, while the Megane E-Tech costs more than €37,000. The Ford Mustang Mach-E has just crossed the threshold beyond which it is no longer eligible for public subsidies in France. These products are exposed to strong competition from Chinese brands. MG thus sells SUVs for around 30,000 euros or even less. And the Fiat 500e is no exception, as Turin has decided to drastically increase its attractive price since September 1st. Your tariff starts at 30,000 euros, an increase of… 20%! However, it remains the cheapest “western” electric car.

The same parent as the competitor

But not for long, as the Fiat 500e will have to face another competition next year with the arrival of a 100% electric Renault R5 (whose price positioning is not yet known). These two cars share the same paternity as it is Luca de Meo, former boss of the Italian brand, who relaunched the Fiat 500 in the 2000s in retro style, and who decided to do the same by taking over Renault with the emblematic city car of the 1980s. Problem for Fiat, the diamond brand has more than fifteen years of feedback in terms of electromobility and promises a particularly efficient engine. Turin is really counting on the indelible charm that made the thermal 500 so successful, launched in 2007 and still on sale today.

Fiat 500e: electric goes so well