Fiat’s New Chic Electric



Italian car maker Fiat has released an all-electric version of the iconic Fiat 500. Plus: Can you actually buy a Fiat in Singapore?


SINGAPORE

In many parts of Europe the Fiat 500 is a properly chic subcompact car, but you won’t be able to buy a new one here. Well, not anymore at least.

This is because there have been no new Fiat passenger cars available in Singapore since 2016, when the last Fiat agent in Singapore, TTS Eurocars relinquished its ownership of the brand here due to poor sales. 

Still, there is a lot to sit up and take notice about the new electric Fiat 500. 42KWh lithium-ion batteries power an 87kW electric motor, which is equivalent to 117 horsepower. The car has a claimed range of 320km, an electrically limited top speed of 150km/h and a 0 to 100km/h acceleration time of 9.0 seconds. 

When plugged into a public charging outlet, the 85kW fast charging system puts 50km of travel range into the car with a five minute quick charge, and 35 minutes of continuous charging will top up 80 percent of the battery capacity. 

An easyWallbox home charging system that can be connected directly to a normal home outlet delivers 3kW of charging power without the need for professional installation. There is the option to upgrade to a 7.4kW adapter, which gives the car a full charge at home in just over six hours. 

The New 500 has three driving modes: Normal, Range, and the interestingly named Sherpa mode.

Sherpa mode optimises the available resources to reduce fuel consumption to the absolute minimum. This mode limits top speed to 80km/h, accelerator response is managed in order to reduce energy consumption; and the climate control system is deactivated, though the driver has the option to turn it back on when necessary. 

Fiat claims that ‘Normal’ mode is as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a regular internal combustion engine, while ‘Range’ mode activates the ‘one-pedal-drive’ function, which was first put into volume production by BMW with its i3 compact car.  

By selecting this driving mode, the car can be driven with the accelerator pedal alone. Releasing the accelerator activates an upgraded engine braking response. While the brake pedal must be used to completely stop the car, Fiat claims that you can simply modulate the accelerator pedal to manage the speed of the car in most urban driving conditions. 

An array of standard equipment like Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, Intelligent Speed Assist and Lane Centering allow the electric Fiat 500 to be classed as a Level 2 autonomous driving vehicle. This rating means that while the driver is still in control of the vehicle (unlike Level 3 to 5 automation where the vehicle can drive itself), the car can automate a limited set of tasks such as keeping in a lane and adaptively keep pace with another vehicle ahead of it.


 What happened to Fiat cars in Singapore?

In Singapore, the only new Fiat vehicles you can buy now are the Doblo and Fiorino vans sold by Fiat commercial vehicle agent Motorviva. As mentioned at the beginning of this story, TTS Eurocars was the last Fiat passenger vehicle agent in Singapore and that lasted from 2005 to mid-2016. Prior to this, Fiat was sold in Singapore by Massa Motor, which held the brand distributorship from 1996 to 2000. 

After a five-year absence, the Fiat brand was reintroduced to the roads of Singapore by TTS Eurocars. While cars like the Fiat Bravo and 500 sold in respectable numbers here when they were launched in 2007, Fiat’s later lineup proved to be unpopular for the Singaporean market and take up rates slowed dramatically.

At its peak, TTS Eurocars was selling more than 600 Fiats annually. The generally accepted figure to reach mass market penetration in Singapore is for a dealer to sell at least 500 cars a year.

From 2013 to mid-2016 however, only 22 Fiats were sold in Singapore, paving the way for the brand’s exit here.

TTS Eurocars continues to be in the automotive trade today, but now focus on parallel imported cars from both Japanese and European brands as well as pre-owned cars. 


about the author

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Lionel Kong
An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.