Last year, Fiat said its cute, dinky 500e electric hatchback would go on sale here at the beginning of 2024. We’re not far from the calendar’s big turn. Fiat’s U.S. site opens with a banner telling us, “Get ready to revel in the details,” December 5 being the day to unlock 500e specs and to “Take a closer look at all-electric Italian engineering.” While we wait, Cars Direct did its usual, finding an early order guide with an MSRP for the 500e: $32,500, excluding destination. If that’s the number that ends up on window stickers, the electric two-door would fall between the two trims of the single ICE four-door Fiat currently sells here, the $30,245 500X Pop Techy Traveler and the $33,275 500X Sport Sporty Socialite. All prices exclude the destination charge unless noted.
This MSRP also puts the 500e under all but four EVs on the market at the moment, the $28,140 Nissan Leaf, the $26,500 Chevrolet Bolt, and the $27,850 Bolt EUV, and the $30,900 Mini Cooper SE. In fact, $32,500 is less than the price of the bygone 500e; when it left the market in 2019, it cost $33,210. That’s an ostensible difference of $710, however — and this might be the most frightening sentence we write all day — the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator tells us that $33,210 in May 2019 is equivalent to $39,898.76 in October of this year.
We only have European specs to go on until December 5. In Italy, the 500e runs on a 42-kWh battery powering a single motor on the front axle capable of 117 horsepower but restricted to a maximum power rating of 94. Range on the WLTP cycle is 199 miles. Our EPA-rated range will be lower, although it should handily beat the 84-mile estimated range of the old car. Cars Direct said the order guide indicated units for our market would get cloth bucket seats with red accents and a 10.25-inch Uconnect screen with navigation standard, and ride on 17-inch aluminum wheels wearing 205/45R17 all-season tires.
The main question will be whether the 500e can be successful sales-wise a fashion item on its second go-round, having failed to be on its first. Admittedly, the old car was only sold in a tiny number of states, which could be the case again. As for competition, the Mini Cooper EV’s price will rise when the new-gen electric Cooper SE comes through. The four-door 2023 Kona Electric starts at $33,550, makes 201 hp and is rated to go 258 miles on a charge. Its price is also likely to rise some when the redesigned version debuts soon. The Chevrolet Bolt twins are headed for the door, but the coming Chevrolet Equinox EV is expected to start at $34,995 including destination and offer a 300-mile range. The Chevy also qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit, a benefit we’re not sure the 500e will claim. And then there’s the elephant at the charging station, the $38,990 Tesla Model 3, another tax credit candidate.
Full disclosure, we’ve already gone on record calling the 500e “pretty great” and saying Fiat should bring the model here, and in our First Drive, we wrote, “there’s a subset of the population that will welcome the 500e as the perfect car.” We hope it succeeds. Stay tuned for December 5 when Fiat fills in some blanks and gives us an idea of how big that subset might be.