Update: ‘Fiat CEO spills the beans on the Panda successor’ section updated.
Stellantis is working on a successor for the current Fiat Panda, which is currently available in Europe and has been running since 2011 with minor 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.
Fiat CEO spills the beans on the Panda successor
In 2020, Fiat CEO Olivier Francois spoke to Auto Express about his company’s vision for a Panda crossover with zero emissions. “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,” he said.
At the end of September 2021, Auto Express published a report saying that Francois had confirmed the launch of an all-new Panda. The British magazine quoted the Fiat CEO saying the company has “found a way to make the new Panda.” It will launch new B-segment models starting in 2023, although Francois didn’t say whether the new Panda will be the first of the new small car offensive. He did reveal that the Turin-headquartered carmaker plans to launch a model every year from 2023.
More recently, Francois discussed about the future of the Fiat Panda with the British magazine again. He didn’t give a straight answer, but confirmed that the next-gen Panda or the Panda successor would be a new pillar under the Fiat brand. The name Fiat decides for the Panda’s replacement could become a new family of multiple models like the 500.
Francois suggested that the cars that fall under the new family could feature a Fiat badge (the 500 family models wear a 500 badge). The Italian CEO has the opportunity to come up with a new name, but is more interested in using “some fabled name of the past.” He indicated that reviving the not-so-old Punto brand is one possibility.
To summarize, the future Fiat portfolio could consist of two model series, the 500 and the yet-to-be-named family. Auto Express’ speculation is that the latter may have two products, a boxy supermini and a small SUV, with the supermini serving as the modern Panda replacement.
Next-gen Panda expected features
The next-gen Fiat Panda/Fiat Panda successor 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 then in February 2024, a mild-hybrid variant, it said. If the Italian carmaker wants an affordable electric city model 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 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.
One last update for the current Panda?
Passione Auto Italiane’s Matteo Volpe, citing a company source, has said in a YouTube vlog that Fiat is not done yet with the current-gen Panda, and that it will get a round of changes this 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.
Spoticar designs new Fiat Panda
Spoticar, Stellantis’ used car network, created an advertising campaign for used Fiat cars. In a picture of used Fiat models, we found a mysterious render. Perhaps, this is a speculative graphic meant for illustration and not an actual preview of the 2022 Panda. The car features a new Fiat logo with block lettering, a curvy new lower grille, and the Fiat Centoventi concept’s wheels.
Electrification targets at Stellantis
By 2025, Stellantis, the parent company of Fiat, wants to have 98% of models to be available with a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain and/or a pure electric powertrain. The company is releasing a second-gen eCMP platform, which would underpin compact hatchbacks and crossovers, this year. In 2026, it will swap 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.
Fiat confirms EV versions for all cars
Between 2025 and 2030, Fiat as a brand aims to go fully electric, Francois confirmed on the 2021 World Environment Day. 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.
Later, at the Stellantis EV Day 2021 on 8 July 2021, Francois suggested that Fiat has planned an EV offensive 2023 onwards. 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)
During his recent interaction with Auto Express, Francois suggested that 2027 could be the year when Fiat goes fully electric. Do note that going electric could mean one of two things – switching to EVs completely, or maintaining the existing ICE models in parallel.
Next-gen Fiat Panda FAQs
What is the next-gen Fiat Panda release date?
The next-gen Fiat Panda, inspired by the Centoventi concept, could be launched in 2023, with the new name.
Which cars would the Fiat Panda electric rival?
What will be the price of the 2023 Fiat Panda electric?
The next-gen Fiat Panda electric is expected to cost under EUR 25,000.
Featured image: Fiat