The demand for electric vehicles is definitely on the rise.
Automakers are saying this by flooding their green car production operations with billions of dollars in investment. The recent spike in gasoline prices at the pump has convinced skeptics to examine the potential of cleaner vehicles.
But despite all these positive signals, cost remains a major barrier to mass adoption of electric vehicles, even though electric vehicle fans like to say that, over its lifetime, a green vehicle is cheaper than a a gasoline vehicle.
But most consumers arbitrate at the time of purchase and focus on price. Take the case of gasoline vehicles with an electric version. The classic Hyundai Kona has a base price of $22,595, while the electric Hyundai Kona costs $49,900. It’s the same at Ford where the F-150 pickup truck has a base price of $40,960 compared to $54,769 for the F-150 Lightning, its green version.
These significant price differences very often dissuade many consumers from going electric. The challenge for car manufacturers is therefore to offer an electric vehicle at an affordable price, which is not easy, because the various raw materials needed to produce the battery are expensive.
The Italian brand Fiat, which belongs to Stellantis (STLA) – Get a free report, formerly Fiat Chrysler, intends to take the opportunity to give itself a new chance on the American market. Fiat has just announced that it will be bringing the iconic 500 city car back to the United States, but in electric form.
The announcement is a real turnaround, as Fiat had withdrawn the 500 from North America in 2020, due to very disappointing sales just nine years after its return. Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Chrysler CEO who died in 2018, is known to have repeatedly complained that the group was losing up to $14,000 every time it sold a Fiat 500 to a North American consumer.
“We thought we were going to show up and just because people like ice cream and pasta, people would buy it,” he said at the 2021 Detroit auto show. It’s nonsense.”
But 10 years later, Stellantis seems to think there is an opportunity to launch the new generation of the Fiat 500e, the electric version of the famous city car, in North America.
Spearheading the brand’s electrification strategy, the new 500e will hit the US market in early 2024, marking a North American expansion in Fiat’s global journey outside of Europe, the company said in a statement. release at the 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Towards a $22,000 electric car
Stellantis gave no further details other than to say the vehicle will hit showrooms in North America in 2024. But the Fiat 500e is already on sale in Europe where it is one of the models of the most popular electric vehicles. Its price really helps to attract consumers. It sells for around 21,000 euros ($21,500), after incentives.
It is possible that it will have an equivalent, if not lower, price in North America, according to Olivier François, CEO of Fiat and Global Stellantis CMO.
“Today, more than ever, we are facing a global revolution, which means that customers are looking for more than just a car and we intend to meet their changing needs,” said Francois. “The new 500e is more than a car, it’s a social project to fuel America’s appetite for change towards sustainable mobility.”
The Fiat 500e that will be sold in the United States will be imported from Italy, offering 162 lb-ft of torque. The company didn’t provide details on the rest of the US specs. They may be similar to what is offered in European markets: two batteries and a 117 horsepower motor. Autonomy, on the other hand, is likely to differ. In Europe, the Fiat 500e can travel 199 miles on a single charge. But it’s more than likely to be a lot less in the US, 150 miles.
The Fiat 500e’s main competitors are the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which retails for a base price of $25,600, and the Nissan Leaf, which retails for a base price of $28,040.
The car will be unveiled next year at the 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show and will be available in the first quarter of 2024.
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