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Fiat's Big Announcement Should Make Mini Nervous

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A new EV war could soon break out.

It was supposed to be the car to help put Fiat back on the map in the US. And while it gained popularity for a few years, the Fiat 500 is simply no longer competitive. Americans have returned to buying trucks and SUVs at the expensive of superminis such as the 500 and other subcompact economy cars like the Ford Fiesta.

And then there was the Fiat 500e, the all-electric variant. Built solely to help reduce FCA’s overall fuel emissions figures, the 500e is also no longer competitive against newer EV rivals, such as the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf. In fact, former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne complained that the automaker lost $20,000 for every 500e it sold. However, Fiat rightly recognized the brand value in the 500 nameplate. Rather than dropping the model entirely, wouldn’t it be best to redesign and redefine it? Absolutely.

As we previously reported, the next generation Fiat 500 is going upmarket both technologically and in luxury. Last March at Geneva, Fiat debuted the Centoventi concept, pictured here. Although Fiat has yet to confirm if this is a preview of the next 500, we believe it is and the fact that the concept is an EV is all the more telling. Fiat has also just announced, according to Reuters, a massive investment of $788 million for the new 500 EV production. This money is being spent specifically on a new production line for the vehicle at Fiat’s historic Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy. Production of the new model is set to kick off in the second quarter of 2020 with the aim of manufacturing 80,000 units a year.

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Coincidentally, Mini recently revealed its first-ever all-electric model, the 2020 Mini SE while announcing plans for a production version of the Rocketman concept, which will also be an EV aimed at the Chinese market. Given both Fiat and Mini’s announcements, an all-out supermini EV war could soon break out.

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