Fiat says it’s new concept car, the Centoventi unveiled this week at the Gemeva Motor Show, is its ‘ABC of the Fiat brand. A car designed to show the direction the Italian carmaker is taking for its next Fiat Panda. The name Centoventi is in recognition of the company’s 120th anniversary but if the company wants to thrive in an ever increasing world of electric cars and still be around in another 120 years then the Centoventi or whatever comes next, needs to be not only good but different. So is this concept car the way forward for the Italian brand?
The Centoventi is designed to be customisable and upgradeable with a selection of battery packs, with a standard base model of one battery providing 100 kilometres (62 mi) of range. Owners can buy or rent up to three extra underfloor batteries, plus an additional one that slides under the driver’s seat, to extend the range to up to a maximum of 500 kilometres (311 mi). The underfloor batteries can be added by a garage in under five minutes. The charging port is positioned in front of the windscreen and incorporates a cable reel for the cable.
Fiat claims the modular battery design will allow this to be “the least expensive BEV on the market”, but no details on any production date have been mentioned, suggesting this is very much a concept. That said we know the electric Fiat 500 is due to arrive next year so any Panda replacement, if that’s what the Centoventi is, would probably arrive within the same time, give or take a few months.
The Centoventi is certainly a compact four-seater car at only 680 mm (144.9 in) long, 1,527 mm (60.1 in) high and 1,846 mm (72.7 in) wide, it sits on a wheelbase of 2,430 mm (95.7 in). So following the lead set by the Panda, driving it around town should be a breeze.
The interior is designed for owners to personalise with a patented interlocking mounting system, allowing new customers to make the Centoventi a very personal car, quite how much of this will carry over into a production version remains to be seen, making a car too personal to the new customer can kill residual values on the used car market. However as more and more people purchase their vehicles on lease or PCP maybe residual value isn’t of concern.
Certainly one thing is clear and that is the Centoventi is a very clever concept car and seems to have captured the appeal much like people have a love for the Fiat Panda. What Fiat needs to do is make sure when it does arrive to the market under whatever name, that it hasn’t veered too far from the concept and become ‘just another city car’.