The electric Fiat 500 is still only a project. There are no electrified versions - it's batteries or nothing. But in the not-too-distant future, things could change, and not just a little. According to rumours gathered by Automotive News, Stellantis is considering offering a mild hybrid engine for the 500e, which would enable it to improve its lot and increase production at the Mirafiori plant.

According to the newspaper, the decision has not yet been made, but Fiat has contacted suppliers to assess the feasibility of swapping the powertrain.

Fiat 500e: from electric to mild hybrid: reasons for the choice

The possible adoption of the mild hybrid engine by the Fiat 500e seems strange, but if we look at the sales and production figures, it would make perfect sense. Let's start with the figures: last year, the Fiat 500 hybrid sold over 100,000 units in Europe, while the 500e stopped at around 62,000.

Electricity is still not catching on in Europe and giving the electric Fiat 500 another chance could prove beneficial in terms of sales, as well as giving Mirafiori a boost.

Here's the second reason why it would make sense to (also) convert the 500e into a mild hybrid. The Turin plant has long been at the centre of political debate and produced 77,260 cars in 2023, less than the 90,000 Fiat had forecast. Unions fear that production will fall to 40,000 in 2024, with negative consequences for workers. The introduction of an engine appreciated by the market could increase this number to 175,000 per year (according to Automotive News), with numerous advantages.

<p>Fiat 500 Hybrid</p>

Fiat 500 Hybrid

<p>Fiat 500e</p>

Fiat 500e

Another reason to support this thesis is the imminent abandonment of the European market by the 500 mild hybrid. The little Fiat car is unlikely to be renewed, as was the case with the Fiat Panda (anticipated by the Pandina), and from 4 July 2024 it will no longer comply with the European regulation on mandatory technologies. It will remain on other markets, with production at the Tafraoui-Orano plant in Algeria. From the end of June, the Tychy plant in Poland will lose a historic model, but it is already working on the Jeep Avenger and the Fiat 600, while awaiting the arrival of the Alfa Romeo Milano.

With the adoption of the new engine, prices would fall considerably. The electric Fiat 500 costs around €30,000, the mild hybrid (4 cm shorter and less technological) €18,000. Switching to the electrified engine could reduce the list price of the 500e by a few thousand euros, to just over €20,000. More expensive than the current model, certainly, but with contents in line with those of the competition and more space on board.

<p>Fiat 500 Hybrid, gli interni</p>

Fiat 500 Hybrid, the interior

<p>Fiat 500e, gli interni</p>

Fiat 500e, the interior

The question is, would it be possible to transfer the mild hybrid engine to the electric Fiat 500? The answer came in 2020 directly from Olivier François (number one at Fiat) during the presentation of the 500e: "Technically, the platform allows it, but for the moment we want to concentrate on electric power. The initial plan therefore already left the door open to the possibility of non-electric powertrains, in the hope that this would be enough to ensure the model's success. In fact, the powertrain of the 500e was designed before Stellantis was born, and is therefore not the CMP, but a derivative (with many significant modifications) of that of the classic 500.

It remains to be seen which mild-hybrid engine will fit under the bonnet. If we exclude the 1.5-litre of the Jeep Renegade, Compass and Alfa Romeo Tonale (too big for a car 3.63 metres long), we are left with either the 70 PS 1.0-litre of the current 500 hybrid, or the 100 PS 1.2-litre of the various Jeep Avengers, Fiat 600s and the new Lancia Ypsilon.

According to Automotive News, if the project is given the green light, it will take between 18 and 24 months to make the necessary changes to the car and the production line.