Stellantis is working on a successor for the Fiat Panda, which is currently available in Europe and has been running since 2011 with cosmetic changes.
The Panda belongs to the A-segment, one that is fighting for survival in Europe. Due to what manufacturers consider over-regulation in the emission and safety aspects is driving up prices significantly. For the next-gen Panda, full electrification looks inevitable, either as standard or as an option. It can compete strongly with the raft of upcoming entry-level electric vehicles if Stellantis transforms the Panda from a hatchback to an electric crossover.
Electrification of the Fiat Panda could not arrive sooner, as global sales of Fiat (excluding Abarth) in 2019 were at their lowest since 1985. In 2020, though, the city car reported the best Y-o-Y growth in its segment of 3.4%. In Italy, the Panda enjoyed a market share of 47.8%, and in Europe, that count was 17.8%.
New Panda could be Stellantis’ entry-level electric crossover
Fiat has indicated intentions to release an electric crossover. Speaking to Auto Express in 2020, Olivier Francois, CEO, Fiat, indicated that it is the company’s vision to have a zero-emission Panda crossover. “I think we have a bright future in the full electric approach to city cars, through the 500e and through the more non-traditional approach with this minimalist, lower price Centoventi that is very Panda-inspired,” Francois said.
Quattroruote magazine has said that a new Fiat SUV will replace the Fiat 500X in 2023, Passione Auto Italiane reported on 31 August 2021. On 1 September 2021, Passione Auto Italiane cited Francois saying that “in 2023, the Centoventi will be electric for the people,” but it will look “very different.” The first part of the CEO’s statement indicates that the launch of the production version of the Centoventi concept will take place in 2023. So, maybe the same electric SUV will serve as the successor to the third-gen Panda and the 500X.
The next-gen Fiat Panda should have a completely new interior with a stylish dashboard and noticeably fewer physical controls. Expect a fully digital instrument cluster clubbed with a large touchscreen infotainment system that offers 5G connectivity, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, and OTA updates.
Mobile Drive, a new 50/50 joint venture company of Stellantis and Foxconn based in the Netherlands, will develop “breakthrough digital cockpits,” and the Fiat Panda EV could get the basic version. The new tech arm will be responsible for infotainment, telematics, and cloud service platform development. Its software innovations should include 5G communications, AI-based apps, upgraded OTA services, e-commerce opportunities, and smart cockpit integrations.
According to a report from Automotive News Europe, a new small Fiat crossover (codename: Fiat 364) will enter production at the Fiat Tychy plant in April 2023. A pure-electric variant of this model (featuring a BYD battery) will follow in May 2023, and nearly a year later, in February 2024, a mild-hybrid variant, it said. If the Italian carmaker wants an affordable Panda electric on the market quickly, the e-CMP will give it the access and the cost advantage to reach the desired positioning, regardless of its production site. Moreover, compared to the 500 Electric’s platform, it would allow bigger dimensions and thus more space.
Fiat has planned an EV offensive 2023 onwards, Francois suggested at the Stellantis EV Day 2021 on 8 July 2021. He said:
From 2023 and 24, you will see an unprecedented passenger car offensive that will bring electric versions on every nameplate and the same year – 2024 – Abarth, too, will switch to full BEV.Olivier Francois, CEO, Fiat (Stellantis EV Day 2021)
Fiat plans to be an EV-only brand eventually, but it will wait until the cost of EVs falls to the same level as ICE vehicles. “We will do so as soon as we can offer electric at the price of thermic, which, in Europe, should happen by 2025-2030,” Francois said at the Stellantis EV Day 2021. The CEO then talked about the Fiat Centoventi concept.
Obviously, we don’t want to just sit and wait and follow the trend. We want to disrupt and accelerate, and the ingredients for that are in our Centoventi concept presented in Geneva. This is exactly the kind of animal our DNA can generate. It’s a pure people’s electric car, affordable and using the concept of simplicity to cut the fluff and make way for batteries.Olivier Francois, CEO, Fiat (Stellantis EV Day 2021)
On 11 September 2021, Passione Auto Italiane said in another report that the production version of the Fiat Centoventi concept should cost under EUR 20,000.
Fiat Centoventi concept
The Centoventi concept is codenamed CC4 (City Car-4, where the 4 represents the fourth generation of the Panda). At the time of showing the concept, Fiat said it was pushing to make the electric Panda, as it would have to pay heavy regulatory fines for missing upcoming CO2 targets otherwise. The company built the Centoventi concept on the same platform as the 500 Electric (500 Elettrica).
On the Centoventi concept, the extra batteries were installed under the floor of the car (this would be done by the service network on the production car, Fiat said) making installation and removal rather easy. An additional battery under the seat was also seen on the Fiat electric car, which the company said could be disconnected and charged directly at the user’s home. A modular battery system would call for a bespoke platform, which we don’t see as part of the new strategy at Stellantis.
Fiat Panda set to gain visual updates in 2022 – Report
Passione Auto Italiane’s Matteo Volpe, citing a company source, has said in a YouTube vlog that the current Fiat Panda will get a round of changes next year. A new variant Volpe talked about could be launched simply as a Fiat Panda Sport, the way 500X Sport was branded in 2019. The Sport variant may feature exclusive alloy wheels, modified suspension setup, lower ground clearance, exclusive steering system calibration, exclusive wheels wrapped in high-performance tires, and more such changes from the regular crossover. If changes aren’t extensive, at best, expect new exterior and interior enrichment.
Fiat introduced the mild-hybrid system on the Panda in July 2020, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 20 percent, without a performance drop. The Panda would carry this system forward into the refreshed model line.
Electrification targets at Stellantis
By 2025, Stellantis, the parent company of Fiat, wants to have 98% of models to be available with either a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain and/or a pure electric powertrain. Stellantis is releasing a second-gen eCMP platform next year, which would underpin compact hatchbacks and crossovers. In 2026, the company will swap this platform with the all-new STLA Small, a version of the new STLA platform family, developed for A-segment, B-segment, and (low-cost) C-segment electric models.
Between 2025 and 2030, Fiat as a brand aims to go fully electric, Francois confirmed on World Environment Day this year. Francois said that it is the Italian automaker’s “duty” to launch electric cars that cost the same as or lower than internal combustion engine vehicles as soon as it can, in line with the reducing costs of their batteries.
Next-gen Fiat Panda FAQs
What is the Fiat Panda electric release date?
The next-gen Fiat Panda, inspired by the Centoventi concept, could be launched in 2023.
Which cars would the 2023 Fiat Panda electric rival?
What will be the price of the 2023 Fiat Panda electric?
The 2023 Fiat Panda electric is expected to cost under EUR 20,000.
Featured image: Fiat