Fiat's Centoventi Concept previews an electric Panda city car
10 March 2019 - Autoblog
Fiat aims for the cheapest battery electric vehicle on the market
The Fiat Panda is about to be born again. Fiat has presented the Centoventi EV concept at the Geneva Motor Show, and it bears the look of a future Panda redesign.
Going with "ABC," as Fiat says, "Affordable but Cool," the Centoventi stands for Fiat's 120th anniversary. It kicks Fiat's long-awaited EV transformation into motion, building on the time-honored basic mobility aesthetics that have served Fiat so well in earlier years.
The design of the Centoventi is similar to the utilitarian, super-basic look that the 1980 Panda rode on when it was revealed, blending that into the small five-door hatchback dimensions of more recent Pandas. There are numerous styling cues dating back to the original "141" Panda — the enormous, unpainted, city-suitable boxed arches are covered in a similar subtle ribbing as the 1980 Panda's lower body. The bumper lights are squares similar to the Panda's headlights, and the Italian flag stripe on the front is offset just like the grille on the Panda. The dashboard is another throwback to 1980: the classic, super-simple Panda instrument cluster has been rethought for 2020 with full digitalization and smartphone connectivity, but it still retains the same shape. And there are open-roof options, just like with the classic Panda.
The Centoventi has suicide doors with no B pillar. We would expect the eventual production version to do away with this for crashworthiness reasons, but in the interests of showing off the modular, sneaker-like interior, it probably serves the concept well. Only Fiat can compare the car's interior to a Crocs shoe and successfully pull it off. And the customizable sneaker attitude encompasses the entire car: The idea is that the car is just a "blank canvas," produced in just one version and color, and the customer can choose the colors and style of the roof, the bumpers, the hubcaps and additional wraps, fitted by the dealer. The roof options comprise a polycarbonate top, an opening canvas one, a roof with an integrated cargo box or one with a solar panel setup generating power to cool the car's cabin.
The battery packs continue with the modular theme. The basic battery of the EV is good for 62 miles, but those can be multiplied, with a servicing garage adding more batteries for a maximum range of 310 miles. One add-on battery fits under a seat, and it can be charged at home, in the style of an electric bike.
Fiat aims for the Centoventi's production version to be the cheapest battery electric vehicle on the market. This is traditionally a segment where Fiat has done well, so if the future Panda is completely electrified, it might reflect positively in sales. Let's not forget that the current, 2011-on Panda keeps topping the Italian home market sales charts.