Personal mobility vital post-Covid, says Fiat
Fiat is predicting “overwhelming” changes for the car industry following the Covid-19 pandemic, with an accelerated transition towards individual mobility solutions, flexible ownership models and electrification.
Speaking at the launch of the new electric Fiat 500, brand president Olivier Francois stressed that the newcomer was aiming for profitable volume growth with an “urban Tesla” approach to premium electric driving. It’s also just the start; discussions are under way to bring the 3+1 variant to the UK, which has a small rear door on the passenger side for left-hand-drive markets, while a larger EV is also in the pipeline.
However, he added, the technology on-cost for battery-electric vehicles means flexible access options will be vital. The 500 will be offered with a suite of rental, car sharing, and pay-as-you-go access schemes through FCA Bank and Leasys, including the Dream Garage scheme which provides short-term access to other FCA products – the UK will be one of 10 markets where this will be offered.
Leasys is also extending its network of Mobility Stores from 400 in Italy by the end of this year to 1,500 across Europe 12 months later. These will provide free charging for battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle drivers, and access to a shared fleet of 500s. The line-up includes a pared-down trim level designed for car sharing and experiences in the company’s home market have highlighted growing demand for affordable personal transport, he said.
“In Italy, we very successfully launched the Panda mild hybrid with the idea that it’s a safe bubble, and you can have it for €3 or €4 per day, which is more or less a cost of public transportation. I think that the green, safe bubble – affordable, while suited for cities – is really what people are going to look for [post-Covid], and that places very well with 500 EV especially and with the future products,” he said.
But, Francois added, the pandemic will also accelerate adoption of electrification and flexible ownership/usage models: “The changes for the car industry are going to be overwhelming. The average customer is becoming, maybe thanks to Covid, more digitally savvy and this is going to influence a lot the future of automotive. This, together with [increased] connectivity, is going to finally unleash all of the possibilities we have to offer cars that [provide] alternatives to ownership when it comes to mobility.”