New ‘soulful’ Fiat 500 design explained at Autostyle Digital Editon webinar

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 Episode 6 of the Autostyle Car Design Digital Edition Workshop presentations visited Centro Stile in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat design. Two leading members of the design team Danilo Tosetti and Michele Longo brought viewers on an on-line webinar journey of the new Fiat 500 electric from conceptual thinking to production. And before the broadcast ended, a surprise video was relayed featuring the all new 3+1 version.

The new 500e, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles first true, modern day, zero-emission, mass-produced car has “Made in Italy” all over it. Already, this third generation of the iconic city-car has been honoured with the prestigious Red Dot Award 2020 in the ‘Design Concept’ category. It won the award for ‘Its excellent, unique design and its ability to stand out from its competitors’.

According to Danilo, ever since the first model was unveiled in 1958, the Fiat 500 has always kept pace with time. It changes when social needs change. From the very outset, ‘the new 500 project has filled all of Fiat with its positivity, bringing energy and creativity with it’.

‘The result is an all-new, all-electric, high-tech and connected car, but always 500: stunning, charismatic and to become an object of desire for zero-emissions mobility in a pure Dolcevita style’.

“Our aim with the new 500 was to create an electric car with a soul, featuring the Italian approach to style and feeling,” said Danilo, who was one of the main creative contributors in the new Fiat’s exterior design. In explaining the styling detail Danilo outlined the design process and he highlighted the importance of proportionality. He said it was imperative that the unique silhouette of the original car would remain in sculpturing the new model. This has been achieved, although the comparative dimensions differ. The new 500 is longer, wider, has a longer wheelbase, sports larger wheels and with shorter overhangs.

“ The silhouette also follows the play of references between the past and the future, with all three generations of the 500 defined by the same central line and the characteristic of their proportions. It is a silhouette that stands out and that was destined to be carried over to the 2020 model.”

While the face of the latest 500 is instantly recognisable, one thing stands out in that the traditional Fiat badge on the grille area is replaced by the 500 emblem, so that it seems, is becoming a brand in itself. To the rear, which retains the 36 degree sloping angle as per the original model, the boot lid hosts the new Fiat badging and an integrated ‘e’ into the 500 logo.

New 500 returns to Turin for production at the legendary Mirafiori plant and built on a new modular platform from the Fiat Chrysler family.

Michele Longo, who looked after the car’s interior has somehow managed to maintain the retro look inside while meeting the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s drivers and passengers. The main centre panel carries the same colour schemes as the car’s exterior in some trim levels, while the smartphone cradle turns the car into a mobile connector with the outside world of communication and entertainment. The 7” digital TFT colour screen placed in front of the driver replaces the conventional instrument panel. Special recyclable materials have been developed to further enhance the interior’s open, spacious and colourful ambience.

Danilo, Michele and their colleagues achieved their goals, by focusing on the ‘soul’ of the car, making a broad product statement of the ‘Spirit of Italy’, and by doing so culminates 63 years of history, heritage and success. Fiat, the inventors of the city car with the 500 is about to be reborn with this new car. And there is more to come, with the curious, yet dynamic 500 3-1 concept, that is about to enter production.

Mentioning success, just this week, the new 500 has received yet another accolade in winning the “Best Design 2020” award, bestowed by the readers of the German magazine “Auto Motor und Sport”. Jarlath Sweeney