Abarth 500 Electric could be the ultimate performance city hopper [Update]

  • Abarth's first battery-powered car should focus purely on driving fun
  • May feature a Formula E sound; fake exhaust note ruled out
  • Not expected to come to the U.S. where the Fiat brand is facing challenges
  • Debuts on November 22, 2022 at 2 PM CET

Update: ‘Abarth 500 Electric Design’ section updated.

It is unimaginable that Stellantis will separate Abarth from the 500 in the EV era, even for a day. As expected, road-testing of the Abarth 500 Electric variant is underway, with the reveal not very far. Here’s what we expect from the Abarth electric car.

Variant confirmation

At the Stellantis EV Day 2021 (held in July 2021), Olivier Francois, CEO, Fiat, confirmed that it will sell only electrified Abarths 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 500 Electric Design

Abarth differentiated its version of the gasoline-powered 500 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 color for good measure to keep the Abarth distinct.

An allegedly leaked image floating on the web partially reveals the design of the Abarth 500 electric. As expected, the EV doesn’t look as aggressive as the gas-powered model. The upper fascia looks cleaner than that of the Fiat 500 electric, with a block-lettered Abarth logo in place of the chrome wings and dedicated 500 logo. In the lower area, the Acid Yellow Abarth EV sports an exclusive functional grille in honeycomb openings, faux side air inlets, and a contrasting splitter which adds aggression while preserving the donor’s aerodynamic design.

Abarth electric car based on the 500e (Abarth 500 Electric)
With the Abarth 500 electric, designers appear to be taking a more conservative approach, leaving it to the powertrain and chassis engineers to do the talking! Image: TopElectricSUV’s render of the Abarth 500 Electric

On the sides, the Abarth 500 Electric sports matt black mirrors. We expect special decals and exclusive wheels, as illustrated. At the rear, spy pictures have shown that it with a modified bumper and what looks like a third brake light on the tailgate where the donor model features the brand logo. The roof spoiler is no different from that of the standard version.

Abarth 500 Electric Powertrain & Performance

The first generation Abarth 500 Electric should use an evolution of the current 500’s chassis, sport around 200 hp output (the ICE Abarth 595 sees 177 hp), with the capability of a 6-7-second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph); the 595 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 upsized. As in any performance derivative, expect Abarth engineers to fit bigger brakes and tweak the transmission for quicker acceleration.

Stellantis mentioned that its EDM (Electric Drive Module, which consists of the gearbox if required, motor and inverter) is compact and easily scalable. Additionally, the EDMs can be configured for front, rear, or all-wheel drive drivetrain layouts. This could potentially help Stellantis experiment with rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive layouts for the Abarth 500 Electric, something which it could have never done on a scale with the ICE model, which was a front-wheel drive only.

The all-electric Abarth model could have a slightly increased track for more grip and higher cornering speeds.

Abarth 500e Cabriolet (Electric Convertible) Rendering
Similar to the 500e, the Abarth Electric should be available in more than one body style, with a convertible being an ideal second option. Image: TopElectricSUV’s Abarth 500 electric cabrio render

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 pickup 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 in the subsequent generation.

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 of the electric motor whine. He told Auto Express that he is leaning toward developing a “badass” Formula E sound.

Acoustic Vehicle Alert System

Abarth is conducting an online survey regarding AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alert System) for its first electric car. With EVs being inherently silent, AVAS is used to alert pedestrians of an incoming EV using synthesized noises. Instead of choosing any sound for AVAS to meet regulations, Abarth has taken a rather creative route. The brand is asking fans across social media platforms, including Instagram, to choose between three sounds, namely Next Track, Cyber Fun, and Rock’n Roar, created by the brand’s sound engineers. Abarth would integrate the most popular AVAS sound into the brand’s coming EV.

Abarth sound survey
Abarth fans can choose between three sounds: Next Track, Cyber Fun, and Rock’n Roar. Image: Abarth

Production & Release Date

Abarth has taken to Instagram to confirm that it will conduct the world premiere of the Abarth New 500 on November 22 at 2 PM CET (1 PM GMT or 8 AM ET).

As Abarth transitions to electric vehicles, the Abarth 595/695 could be discontinued just prior to the market launch of the all-electric variant. The word in the Italian media is that the production of all the existing A-segment (city) cars at Stellantis’ Tychy plant will end in 2023, as per a report from moparinsiders.com. The Polish plant also makes the Abarth 595/695. Like the 500e, the 100% electrified Abarth variant should come from Stellantis’ Mirafiori factory in Italy.

Abarth 500 Electric Price & Rivals

The standard 500e is not cheap, with prices starting at GBP 30,645 (USD 36,061) and going up to GBP 33,645 (USD 39,591). A well-spec’d Abarth electric could be pushing GBP 40,000 (USD 47,069). The closest rival to the electric Abarth will be the first all-electric Mini JCW which should be in the marketplace mid-decade, while sport versions of the Skoda city car, VW ID.2, and the Cupra Urban Rebel, besides the Alpine R5, could be cheaper alternatives.

TopElectricSUV says

The Abarth 500 electric would be a pointless exercise if it isn’t a fun little hatchback, offering performance and excitement when leaving a roundabout. In spite of the fact that it will not be as aggressive looking or sounding as the gas-powered Abarths of today, it will be more than capable of making up for these superficial weaknesses with significantly better performance. Plus, being an EV, it would be considerably cheaper to run than the gas model.

Abarth 500 Electric FAQs

What is the Abarth 500 electric release date?

The Abarth 500 electric will reportedly debut on November 24, 2022, and it will likely go on sale in Europe in early 2023.

What will be the Abarth 500 electric price?

The base Abarth 500 electric could cost close to GBP 40,000 (USD 45,654).

Which models will be Abarth 500 electric rivals?

The Abarth 500 electric could compete with the smart #1 Brabus.

Featured Image: Rendering of the Abarth 500e by TopElectricSUV