Though Stellantis is yet to confirm an Abarth 500e (or whatever name the brand chooses), the company has said that in 2024, Abarth will switch to electric powertrains. It is unimaginable that Stellantis will separate Abarth from the 500 in the EV era, even for a day.
At the Stellantis EV Day 2021 (held in July 2021), Olivier Francois, CEO, Fiat, confirmed an electrified Abarth from 2024. Stellantis also issued statements for each of its 14 brands expressing the electrification approach. For an electrified Abarth brand, the statement reads, “Heating Up People, But Not The Planet.”
And the same year, 2024, Abarth too will switch to full BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle).Olivier Francois, CEO of Fiat & Abarth, on July 8, 2021
Abarth 500e Design & Platform
Abarth differentiated its version of the gasoline-powered 500 from the Fiat model through prominent changes on the outside. These included bumpers with air dams at the front and a splitter at the rear with dual exhausts, side skirts, and larger, low-profile alloy wheels. The Abarth Scorpion logo replaced the Fiat logo all around, and the styling department threw in racing stripes or a dual-tone colour for good measure to keep the Abarth distinct.
With the Abarth 500 electric, designers should take a similar approach barring the exhausts, of course. The task of retaining the 500’s identity as it transforms from an ICE to an EV-only model has already been done, which should take the weight off the shoulders of Abarth designers.
Abarth 500e Powertrain & Performance
The first generation Abarth 500e should build on the current mechanical configuration (42 kWh battery), sport around 200 hp output (the ICE Abarth 595 sees 177 hp), with the capability of a 6-second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph); the 595 currently does it in 6.9 seconds. As the powertrain would be tuned for a quick burst of acceleration and reaching its top speed, the range may not be far from the 199 miles (320 km) managed by the standard 500e in the WLTP test, even if the battery is updated.
Stellantis mentioned that its EDM (Electric Drive Module, which consists of the gearbox if required, motor and inverter) is compact and is easily scalable. Additionally, the EDMs can be configured for front, rear, or all-wheel drive capability. This could potentially help Stellantis experiment with rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive layouts for the Abarth 500e, something which it could have never done on a scale with the ICE model, which was a front-wheel drive only.
Where the 500e features a Lithium-Ion battery, Stellantis mentioned it is planning two battery chemistries by 2024 with a high energy density option earmarked for its performance vehicles and trucks. By 2026, Stellantis will offer solid-state batteries too. Similarly, with the electric platform for small models (STLA Small) arriving in 2026, Abarth’s role is set to continue well into the future as a performance brand. The original Abarth 695 from 1964 was a rear-wheel drive hatch based on the rear-wheel drive 500; the flexible EV powertrain and new battery tech could help Abarth embrace this history while being future-forward.
No fake exhaust note
Every Abarth needs to generate excitement with sound, but without a combustion engine, it is complicated. According to a report from British magazine Auto Express, Francois and his engineers are yet to decide if they should synthesize an exhaust note or accentuate the sound of motor whine in the performance EV. Francois himself is more interested in keeping things authentic and embracing the subtle exhilaration with the electric-motor whine. He told Auto Express that he is leaning toward developing a “badass” Formula E sound.
Francois also told the British publication that all Fiat models will become available in an electric variant by 2025.
Abarth 500e Price & Rivals
The standard 500e is not cheap, with prices starting at 27,000 GBP (USD 36,600). The performance Abarth electric 500 should see prices of 35,000-40,000 GBP (47,445-54,223 USD). The closest rival to the electric Abarth will be the electric Mini JCW which should be out mid-decade, while sport versions of the Skoda city car, VW ID.2, and the Cupra Urban Rebel, and the Alpine R5 could be cheaper alternatives.
Featured Image – Rendering of the Abarth 500e courtesy of Kleber Silva/Behance.net