I watched as a not-yet-on-sale Fiat 500e sauntered down the Auburn Hills, Michigan road, filled to the brim with two smiling Stellantis executives. The brightly colored city car looked out-of-place amongst the sea of black and silver trucks and large crossovers that occupied the parking lot of the bistro where I agreed to meet the new head of Fiat North America – Aamir Ahmed, and Stellantis communications representative Nick Cappa. Stellantis offered an exclusive look for InsideEVs to paw through the 500e before it officially goes on sale. As our resident Fiat 500 Abarth owner and Fiat aficionado (maybe apologist is more accurate), I volunteered. 

2024 Fiat 500e Front Close Up

I’ve seen thinly veiled concept versions of the car at the Detroit auto show decked out in designer trim, but this might be the first time anyone in the press has got a look at exactly what U.S. drivers can expect when the car reaches dealer lots later this year. Ahmed and Cappa brought along a final production model of the Fiat 500e, not some prototype complete with a big red vehicle kill switch, and odd-colored, ill-fitting plastics. Like all Fiat 500e models that will go on sale initially, it was a Product (RED) edition, complete with the (RED) stitching on the seats inside. The two assured me that this particular unit would end up on sale when they were done with it. This was Ahmed’s personal company car. 

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Fiat has big plans for the 500e and North America as a whole

Fiat currently only has one car in the showroom: the gas-powered 500X. The 500e marks the start of a new push. Although the 500e is low on range and power for its price, it could appeal to buyers in search of a fashionable EV that is good for short journeys. 

On a personal level, Ahmed says he owns an Abarth that is remarkably similar to mine, down to the year. For a minute, we nerded out about the Abarth, reminiscing about its upright driving position and joyfully noisy exhaust note. He let it slip that he was one of the ones who did development work on the Beats by Dre sound system found in the 500, including my example. From that tangent, I felt like he genuinely enjoyed the Fiat 500 and—most importantly—understands how important the car is to the brand’s identity. “Honestly, I really want to know what Abarth owners think about the new 500e over regular 500 drivers,” said Ahmed. “It’s just so much better of a car this time around,” he continued. 

2024 Fiat 500e Seats

Of course, the new 500e isn’t a new car. It has been on sale in much of Europe since at least late 2020. But, it took time for Stellantis to make a case for the pint-sized vehicle in the U.S., and get the appropriate federalization changes in its crash structure, lighting, and more to certify it for sale in the US and Canada. But underneath, it is its own deal, sharing little to nothing with the old Fiat 500 or 500e. Still, when Fiat went to create the new 500e model, it kept the proportions roughly the same as they always had been, but revised the dimensions for more comfort. For example, the new 500e is about two inches wider and a couple of inches longer than the old 500/500e.

2024 Fiat 500e Dashboard

Two inches may not sound like a lot, but it goes a long way to increasing comfort. Compared to my Abarth, the new 500 has much more shoulder room. I no longer feel jammed up against the sides of the car. When coupled with the wider seats and less intrusive dashboard design (no hitting your knees on a shifter console, folks), the new 500e feels like it’s in a completely new league of comfort. Ahmed also said the ride should be more sophisticated this time around, but given this was just a static impression in a parking lot next to a Dunkin’ Donuts, I’ll have to take his word for it until I officially get behind the wheel sometime in the next few weeks. 

“You know, these things don’t really have the greatest proportions for stability, but the extra wheelbase and low-mounted battery go a long way,” said Ahmed, referring to the 500e’s tall, narrow, and short wheelbase shape that inherently compromises its ride. The whole vehicle is designed to be more comfortable and stable than the old 500 and 500e. 

2024 Fiat 500e Steering Wheel

“When the old [gas-powered Fiat 500] was facelifted and we gave the car U-Connect for the first time, I just didn’t understand why the U.S. model got the 5-inch screen when in Europe they got a 7-inch unit. We’re not making any compromises this time around,” said Ahmed. At least from what I can tell from a quick parking lot impression, the car is in a new league of quality and comfort. The brittle, hollow plastics of the old 500 aren’t here, and neither are the dinky U-connect screens. From what I can see, the 500e gets the same 10.25” screen found in the Alfa Romeo Tonale and Dodge Hornet. The smaller screen (or completely screenless) designs found in overseas models won’t make their way here, at least, not initially. 

2024 Fiat 500e Rear1

What’s next for the product-starved brand?

The 500e might be the cornerstone of Fiat’s new era in the U.S., but Ahmed takes a bit of issue with calling it a rebirth. “Well, it’s not a relaunch. I’m just gonna do Fiat,” said Ahmed. For him, doing Fiat means that the 500e is only just the start of an expanded Fiat presence and bigger electrification push.

2024 Fiat 500e Front 1

The 500e will be the first new Fiat in a very long time, since the gas-powered 500, 500L and 124 Spider were discontinued by the end of 2020. Since then, the 500X has been the lone vehicle in Fiat showrooms, but Ahmed admitted that the 500X will end up getting the axe not long after the Fiat 500e officially goes on sale. After that, it’ll be 500e only for the immediate future.

Abarth 600e

Yet, it could be inferred that the 500e won’t stay alone for too long. When I asked if Fiat planned to import the Fiat 600 or 600 Abarth to the US, he stopped short of confirming. “Fiat is more popular outside of its home market (Italy) than inside it, not every brand is like that. It does well in Latin America, and other spaces, which means we’ve got a lot of products from Europe and elsewhere we could potentially integrate into our lineup,” he said.  

Gallery: 2024 Fiat 500e (Preview)

For now, Fiat is focused on getting the 500e on sale and in customer’s driveways. From there, Fiat will figure out what model will add next, but Ahmed did say that Fiat will continue to have the spirit of the Fiat 500. 

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