Electric Fiat Panda previewed as one of five shock new concepts

Electric Fiat Panda previewed as one of five shock new concepts



The new Panda will be obviously inspired by its 1980s namesake

Fleet of five 1980s-inspired concept cars includes City Car, which hints at electric Panda ahead of June unveiling

Fiat has previewed the new electric Panda as one of five radically styled concepts that look ahead to a range of new affordable cars due on sale worldwide by the end of the decade.  

Fiat's new concepts have been revealed on the eve of the Geneva motor show, from which the Italian brand will be absent, along with each of its Stellantis sibling brands. Notably, the headline unveiling at Geneva will be the production version of the Renault 5 - a similarly conceived retro electric supermini that will be a close rival to Fiat's new Panda.

In a new official video released by Fiat, CEO Olivier François takes to the streets of small Italian town 'Ginevra' in a current-generation Panda, as he presents his company's alternative take on the international motor show.

"Today I want to take you all with me to one of the biggest appointments of the year: the Geneva auto show. In Italian: 'Ginevra'. 

"It's a very big deal for us car makers. Loads of people will be there: French, Chinese, Japanese, and they all will spend big money displaying the future of their business, because it's a press event so everyone wants to impress. It makes sense.

"But for today, even if you are not a journalist, just come on board - there's plenty of room in my little Panda."

The first of Fiat's new-era models – which are all described as "children of the Panda" – will be revealed in July as part of the brand's 125th anniversary celebrations, followed by one new car every year until 2027.

They will share a common architecture, which can accommodate pure-combustion, hybrid and pure-electric powertrains. This platform is expected to be the cost-effective Smart Car platform used by the latest C3 from Stellantis sibling brand Citroën, which was originally designed for the Indian and Latin American markets but has been adapted for European sale. 

The Panda, expected to be the car Fiat will show in June, has been previewed by a retro-futuristic concept dubbed the City Car, which takes obvious inspiration from the 1980s Panda 4x4. 

Confirming that it has a larger footprint than the current car, Fiat refers to the City Car concept as "a sort of 'Mega-Panda'", but it is still expected to be among the smaller full-sized cars available in Europe. 

The new Panda is expected to morph into an ultra-compact crossover, like the Citroën to which it is related, riding higher and with a greater focus on cabin space than its predecessor.

The concept's upright stature, chunky proportions and contrasting lower bodywork suggest the Panda will lean into the rugged, utilitarian cues that have defined its namesake since it launched, three generations ago, in 1980.

Fiat explained that raising the Panda up off the ground for its next generation will broaden its appeal: "The high driving position and robust design make this city car the perfect ally for customers all over the world, especially in crowded urban environments. But, at the same time, it offers roominess and versatility for family weekend trips and holidays."

Fiat does not go so far as to hint at the new Panda's technical specifications, but like the C3 it is set to be offered with a choice of combustion and electric powertrains as Fiat strives to ensure its products remain accessible to as wide a demographic as possible, and to cater to differing needs in different markets. 

Citroën has not yet fully detailed the C3's combustion offering, but the EV produces 111bhp and is available with two batteries giving a range of either 124 or 199 miles. 

Crucially, the electric C3 is expected to be one of the cheapest full-sized electric cars on sale, with a start price of less than €20,000, and the electric Panda is expected to roughly match that. The petrol version could cost as little as £15,000. 

The City Car's design departs radically from the Centoventi concept Fiat unveiled in 2019 as a preview of the Panda's future. Not only does it sit further from the ground, but it adopts a raft of 1980s-inspired design cues including a pixel-style front light bar, chunky flared wheel arches and even a new interpretation of Fiat's classic slatted badge. 

Fiat's historic factory in Lingotto, Turin – no longer in use – is said to have been a driving influence on the concept's design, with designers drawing on the building's "structural lightness, space optimisation and brightness" as they created the interior. Notably, the factory's famous roof test track is referenced in the oval steering wheel and dashboard design. 

The cabin majors on sustainability, with materials including bamboo and recycled plastics used for the main structures - features which will come to be common to all Fiat products in the new era. 

Fiat also hints at one unique feature that could appear on the production version: a self-winding charging cable that retracts into the bodywork when not in use.  

The City Car's retro cues and chunky form are carried over to each of the other concept cars Fiat has unveiled, suggesting a ground-up rethink for its electrified line-up following the launch of the electric 500 supermini and 600 crossover. 

The Pick-Up concept, for example, previews a striking new truck model that will replace the Strada - Brazil's best-selling vehicle. 

Intriguingly, Fiat says it is "certain that this type of vehicle can replicate its success at a global level, even in Europe", all but confirming plans to bring its next small pick-up truck here. 

Said to "put the fun into functionality", the Pick-Up is clearly more overtly aimed at the lifestyle market than the commercial vehicle sector, and indeed Fiat says it blends "the concept of a pick-up with the functionality of an LCV and the comfort of an SUV in a size that is suitable to urban environments all over the world." 

There is also the Fastback concept, a rakish compact crossover "with a sporty flair" that aims to prove "Fiat can improve its sustainable commitment without giving up on performance". The brand notes that it would be a successor to the Fastback and Tipo model lines, but unlike those cars, could come to Europe. 

The more straight-backed SUV concept is presented as a "Giga-Panda" which would no doubt be pitched against the likes of the Dacia Duster when it makes production. It is, Fiat says, "another confirmation of the special emphasis the brand is putting on the needs of family transport".

The barrage of concepts rounds off with the Camper - "the ultimate do-it-all vehicle". Blending elements of 4x4 off-roaders, MPVs and vans, it is said to pay homage to the "fun-ctionality of the Panda from the 80s, recalling the versatility of a car that was made for the city with the feature of an SUV and the soul of a trusty companion".  

Fiat CEO Olivier Francois said: “Fiat is a global brand with 1.3 million cars sold last year and solid leadership in many parts of the world. We are in a global game and our next step will be to transition from local products to a global offer that can benefit all of our customers everywhere in the world. 

"We are excited to share this glimpse into our future; a very near future actually, since the first car will be presented in 4 months during the brand’s 125th anniversary celebration. That car will then be followed by 1 new model every year.” 

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