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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Fiat 500 Hybrid Details Released!

Fiat 500 and Panda Hybrid

The Fiat brand in Europe has released details on its new hybrid-powered Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda. The two models are the top-selling cars in the City Car segment in Europe and are the first FCA models in this category to adopt hybrid technology. The Fiat 500 and the Panda are the symbol of urban mobility in Europe, with about 400,000 units sold throughout the year.

Fiat 500 Hybrid

These new Hybrids usher in a new era of sustainable mobility for the brand and are being introduced just ahead of the all-electric 500 that will be introduced in the next few months.

Fiat 500 Hybrid Emblem

The new models will debut the new gasoline Mild Hybrid system that combines the latest 3-cylinder FireFly 1 liter 70 HP engine family with a 12-volt BSG (Belt-integrated Starter Generator) electric motor and a lithium battery.

Fiat Panda Hybrid

The company says compared to the gasoline-powered 1.2L 69 HP engine used on 500 and Panda models, the Mild Hybrid version improves fuel efficiency, reduces CO2 emissions on average by 20%, and up to 30% for the Panda Cross. This is achieved without losing any performance. The BSG system also allows for quiet, vibration-free restarting of the internal combustion engine in Stop&Start mode, further enhancing driving comfort.

The new hybrid-powered Fiat 500 and Panda meet Euro 6D Final-compliant emission standards. This compliance is considered vital in the European city-car segment as some cities there restrict access and movement of vehicles with internal combustion engines. Additionally, tax breaks and other perks like discounted parking are available for cars that meet these standards.

Fiat 500 Hybrid Launch Edition Seats

The Fiat 500 and Panda Hybrid will be recognizable by the "Hybrid" logo on the tailgate and an exclusive "H" shaped badge on the B pillar. A "Launch Edition" of the Hybrid 500 and Panda will be available and features for the first time in the automotive industry, an interior upholstery made with "SEAQUAL® YARN". An ecological and "green" material made from recycled plastic, of which 10% of marine origin and 90% of terrestrial origin. Plastic collected at sea is turned into flakes of polyethylene terephthalate and then mixed with other ecological, natural, recycled or recovered fibers and made into yarn.

Fiat 500 SEAQUAL interior

The Fiat 500 and the Panda Hybrid Launch Edition can be ordered now at Fiat dealerships across Europe. The 500 Hybrid will hit dealerships starting in February and the Panda Hybrid in March.

Fiat 500 Hybrid Trunk Logo

The upcoming all-electric Fiat 500 is rumored to be unveiled in March at the Geneva Motor Show, and expect a big launch on this July 4th, the 52nd anniversary of the launch of the iconic 1957 Nuova Fiat 500.

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Whether we will see the new all-electric Fiat 500 here in this country has not been confirmed, but we can always hope. However, Fiat USA has displayed an all-electric concept car called the Centoventi in the US this month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2020), which is a promising sign for the future.

Below is a full description of the Fiat 500 and Panda Hybrid system, courtesy of the FCA Press release.

Fiat FireFly Hybrid Engine

How the FCA Mild Hybrid Technology Works

The new gasoline Mild Hybrid engine, which builds on the heritage of the famous Fire engine, more than 30 million of them were produced, implements a 1-liter, 3-cylinder engine configuration with a peak power output of 70 hp (51 kW) at 6,000 rpm and peak torque of 92 Nm at 3,500 rpm.

The cylinder head has two valves per cylinder and a single camshaft with continuous variable valve timing (the timing is chain-driven). The structure includes a compact combustion chamber, high-tumble intake ducts, and external EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation), providing a remarkably high compression ratio (12:1), which translates into better thermal efficiency.

Fiat FireFly Cylinder Head

The crankcase, developed in collaboration with Teksid, is made of high-pressure die-cast aluminum alloy with cast-iron cylinder liners to reduce startup times and contain the weight of the engine to just 77 kg. Additionally, friction is reduced using a crank mechanism with a bore/stroke ratio of 1.24 and a connecting rod/crank device with a 10 mm offset to maximize efficiency.

Fiat FireFly Hybrid BSG System

The BSG system is mounted directly on the engine and is operated by the belt that also drives the auxiliaries. The system recovers energy during braking and deceleration, stores it in a lithium battery with a capacity of 11 Ah, and uses it, at a peak power of 3,6 kW, to restart the engine in Stop&Start mode and to assist it during acceleration.

This technology allows the internal combustion engine to switch off, even at speeds below 30 km/h, simply by shifting into neutral (the dashboard, which displays information on the hybrid system, prompts the driver when to do so). In coasting mode, the lithium battery powers all services, ensuring the driver has full control of the vehicle.

Fiat Hybrid Powertrain

The Mild Hybrid propulsion unit in the latest Panda and 500 Hybrid Launch Edition is combined with a 6-gear C514 manual transmission evolution (transverse gearbox, front-wheel drive), with contents aimed at enhancing maneuverability and improving efficiency, including new low-friction bearings and gaskets, the use of a specific high-efficiency lubricant and a never seen before 6th gear ratio that improves fuel economy in out-of-town driving.

The comfort-related aspect has also been taken into consideration by optimizing the gearbox system support. Lastly, the new system involves lowering the entire power unit 45 mm so the car behaves better on the road thanks to the lower center of gravity.

Fiat Hybrid BSG Powertrain

The new FireFly family was developed by FCA to offer a range of downsized gasoline engines, featuring good fuel efficiency and benchmark performance in a wide range of applications. The basic structure of the new engines guarantees efficiency, modularity, and a considerable degree of standardization in terms of components and manufacturing process, flexibility and potential for future developments.

Fiat 500 and Panda

Fiat 500 and Panda
The new Hybrid Launch Edition once again positions the two Fiat icons as the stars of the show, thanks to continuous technological innovations and a timeless style. At the same time, they also complement each other: in the city car segment according to Fiat, the 500 represents the more "aspirational" side and the Panda the more "functional".

Fiat 500 Hybrid Launch Edition

The Fiat 500 is one of the most representative examples of Italian ingenuity, winning over customers for many generations. Launched in 1957 and recreated in 2007, the iconic Fiat 500 got Europe onto the roads in the 1960s, then completely revolutionized the city car category in the first decade of the 21st century, offering an extraordinary never seen before blend of style and technological innovation in this segment. And now, thanks to the 500 Hybrid Launch Edition, it will continue to play a leading role in urban mobility where last year, in its eleventh, it recorded the best number ever, with about 194,000 registered units.

Fiat 500c Hybrid Launch Edition

One of the ingredients in this success is the special series: over 30 of which have been issued which have allowed the exploration of territories uncharted by a city car. It is now time for the 500 Hybrid Launch Edition to continue the technological journey towards the future of urban mobility in the third millennium.

Fiat Panda Hybrid Launch Edition

Equally fascinating is the history of the Fiat Panda. For more than 40 years, the Panda has unmistakably represented the daily relationship with the automobile: more immediate, more carefree. The secrets of its popularity include its compact exterior dimensions, the large interior space that can be configured to any transport need, the wide range of engines and the numerous color combinations.

In total, more than 7.5 million customers have been won over by the simplicity and attractiveness of the model, a true compendium of the characteristics of the Fiat brand.

Fiat Panda Original

In addition, the Panda has always been the torchbearer of innovation for the entire segment. For example, it was the first four-wheel drive city car (1983), the first in its segment to win the prestigious "Car of the Year" (2004), and in the same year, the first city car to reach the Everest Base Camp, located at an altitude of 5,200 meters.

1990 Fiat Panda Elettra
The 1990 Fiat Panda Elettra - considered by many to be the first available to the public mass produced electric car by a major manufacturer.

The long set of records continued in 2006, when the Fiat Panda was the first large-scale methane-powered city-car put into production. Back in 2013, it was the first in its class to introduce automatic emergency braking. And today comes the Panda Hybrid Launch Edition, ready to revolutionize urban mobility by meeting the new needs of the "Panda people," a global community that looks to the future with an ever-increasing respect for the environment.

Source and images: FCA NV

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Fiat 2019 North American Sales Totals

2019 Fiat 500

The Fiat brand sold a total of 17,283 vehicles in North America in 2019, a 34% decline compared to the 26,104 units sold in 2018.

Fiat USA Sales: 9200
Fiat Brand Sales in Canada: 384
Fiat Brand Sales in Mexico: 7,699
Total: 17,283

The top-selling Fiat model was the 500 hatch and Cabrio series, followed by the 124 Spider and the 500X crossover and 500L MPV.

Fiat 500 Abarth

Fiat 2019 Sales Totals in US
The Fiat brand sold 9,200 cars in the US during 2019, 41 percent less compared to 15,551 sold in 2019.

Fiat USA Sales Totals 2019 / 2018 Comparison
Model2019 Sales2018 Sales% Change





Fiat 2019 Sales in Canada
Fiat Canadian sales dropped 41 percent to 384 units from 2018's total of 647 cars. Curiously, the best selling Fiat model in Canada is the Fiat 124 Spider. Go figure!

Fiat 2019 / 2018 Sales in Canada Comparison
Model2019 Sales2018 Sales% Change





Fiat Mexico 2019 Sales Totals
Fiat brand sales in Mexico totaled 7,669, a 23 percent decrease over 9,938 units sold the previous year. It should be noted that Fiat Mexico sells a variety of models besides the 500 Abarth and 500L. There were a total of 101 Fiat 500s and 50 500Ls sold in Mexico last year.  Sales of the 500X and Spider were discontinued back in 2018.

2019 Fiat 500 Cabrio

Fiat 500 Sales for 2019
The continued scarcity of Fiat's traditionally best selling model, the 500 hatch and Cabrio over the past two years have had a significant impact on sales. The model breakdown in the US shows that there was a total of 3,267 Fiat 500 hatchback, Cabrios, and Abarth sold in 2019. This is down 39% compared to 2018's 5,370 cars.  By comparison, sales in 2017, when these models were readily available, reached 12,685.

Contributing factors are seen as the 500's production being stopped most of the 2018 model year for retooling and then the subsequent build-out of the last batch of 2019 cars. Frequent issues expressed on the Fiat 500 USA Forum by potential buyers were a lack of availability of cars, the discontinuation of the many bright and cheerful colors, and the scarcity of manual transmissions for certain models. These sentiments were also echoed by the dealers we talked to.

The question on whether sales would pick up if the supply issues were fixed will sadly never be answered as Fiat USA has discontinued sales of the 500 in North America after the 2019 model year.

Looking at the other countries, in Canada, there were 117 Fiat 500s sold in 2019 compared to 270 in 2018. Fiat 500 sales in Mexico last year amounted to 101 versus 440 in 2018.

Fiat 500L

Fiat 500L Sales for 2019
Fiat 500L MPV sales in the US for 2019 totaled 771, compared to 2018's figure of 1,413 cars. The 500L was updated and received a mild restyling for 2018, which helped bump sales that year.

Sales of the 500L in Canada and Mexico were down very slightly last year. Fiat sold 12 500L MPVs in Canada in 2019 versus 13 sold in 2018. In Mexico, 50 500L's were sold last year versus 52 in 2018.

Curiously, the versatile 500L has been a consistent top seller in Europe since its launch in 2012, yet never really caught on here in America. The 500L has the interior room of a full-sized car within its subcompact outer dimensions and unmatched practicality.

Here are some of the class-leading features the Fiat 500L offers:

  • Best-in-class standard power and torque
  • Best-in-class cargo room
  • More seating and storage configurations than anyone in its class
  • Best-in-class storage system
  • Best-in-class front headroom

2019 Fiat 500X

Fiat 500X Sales for 2019
Fiat 500X sales in the US totaled 2,518 last year, a 52% decline compared to 5,223 for 2018.

Again, a lack of availability is the often stated issue potential customers have expressed to me in conversations.  Here's a snippet of one from someone in California from a few weeks ago:

"I don’t understand how Fiat can sell cars with no stock...Last I counted were about 18 cars among five dealerships in the Bay Area. One 2019 500X."

This sales performance is a bit surprising as the 500X received a refreshed design and a new engine for 2019 and has been garnering positive press reviews.  The 500X is built on the same platform as the big selling Jeep Renegade (76K units last year) but is tuned to deliver sophisticated European driving dynamics compared to more traditional Jeep SUV ride and handling. Of course, it is difficult to sell cars if they are not available, and that seems to be the biggest issue here.

In Canada, Fiat sold only 50 500X crossovers, compared to the 79 total sold in 2018 - a 37 percent drop. Mexican sales of the 500X ended in 2018.

Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Fiat 124 Spider Sales for 2019
Sales of the 124 Spider in the US totaled 2,644 units last year, compared to 3,516 in 2018, a 25% decline.

The charismatic 124 Spider is the most affordable roadster available in the US, is more refined, and has an easily tuned turbocharged motor for substantially added performance compared to its sister car, the Mazda MX5, yet sales are one-third that of the Mazda's.  That begs the question, why?

In Canada, the 124 Spider is the best selling model out of the entire Fiat brand. There were 205 Spiders sold in Canada in 2019, compared to 284  sold the year before. Sales of the Spider were discontinued in Mexico in 2018.

Fiat Centoventi at CES 2020

What's Next?
Looking to the future, there is a renewed push to market the 500X with the announcement of a Sport model coming this year, plus Fiat will be showing off its Centoventi concept car here in America this week.  The Centoventi gives a hint of the future of the Fiat brand and gives some hope that we will see these future products here in North America.

Fiat  SpA

2019 Fiat News Recap

The big news for 2019 was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot S.A. formally agreed to merge. The two companies will combine in a 50/50 partnership headquartered in Holland and will become the 4th largest car manufacturer by volume, ahead of GM, Hyundai, Ford, and Honda.

Read more:

Fiat 500 at the Fiat Club FreakOut

Fiat announced in September that 2019 would be the last year of the 500 hatch and Cabrio models here in the US. The next-generation 500 is expected to debut in March at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show. So far, there has been silence on whether we will see that model on this side of the Atlantic. The new model will feature an all-electric powertrain.

Fiat 500X Sport

Fiat announced they will be bringing the 500X Sport model over from Europe for 2020. The 500X Sport is an exclusive trim package with added features not available on other 500X models.

Fiat 124 Abarth Scorpion Sting
2020 Fiat 124 Abarth Spider with Scorpion Sting Appearance Group

Fiat added new appearance packages for their 124 Spider series. The Abarth Spider Scorpion Sting Appearance Group and 124 Spider Urbana Edition give the exciting sportscar added flair.

Fiat Centoventi Concept

Fiat was founded in 1899 and is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. Fiat unveiled a concept car called the Centoventi (one hundred twenty in Italian) to commemorate the occasion. The Centoventi hints at future Fiat models and ushers in the next generation of EVs and gives a look at how cars will be sold.

Read more about Fiat Year-End Sales Totals:

Fiat Brand Sales in the United States, Fourth Quarter 2019
ModelCurrent YearLast YearVol ChangeCurrent YTDLast Year YTDVol Change








Sources: FCA US LLC.
Images: FCA and author