Abarth is an Italian company that builds race cars and tunes road cars for better performance. Founded in 1949 by Carlo Abarth, the company has a long history of building, tuning, and racing sports cars. In 1971, Fiat bought Abarth and made it the official racing department. The company would find a lot of success in rally racing and touring car racing, winning multiple championships.
Today, we know Abarth for its tuned versions of Fiat’s 500 hatchback and the 124 Spider. Although Fiat only has one vehicle on sale in the U.S. in 2022, parent company Stellantis has plans to bring back the brand with performance versions carrying the Abarth badge. The first model coming will re-introduce Abarth as an electric performance subdivision of Fiat. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming Abarth 500 EV.
Abarth’s first performance EV
Abarth has been tuning Fiat’s cars for over 70 years. The brand will now follow along with parent company Stellantis’ plans to go all-electric. The last Abarth model, the 124 Spider, launched in 2017, so it has been a minute since we’ve seen the company produce a hot version of Fiat’s cars.
Autocar recently spoke with Abarth’s brand boss, Oliver Francois, and confirmed that the company’s newest creation will be based on the electric Fiat 500 hatchback. The current version of the electric 500 was never sold in the U.S. In its most powerful configuration, the electric 500 has a 117 horsepower electric motor powered by a 42-kilowatt battery.
The Abarth version will almost certainly have more power. If history is any indication, then the Abarth 500 EV will also feature extensive chassis and aerodynamic changes. This will focus on better handling and corner-carving capability.
The challenges of building a performance version of the all-electric Fiat 500
Speaking to Autocar, Oliver Francois had this to say about the upcoming Abarth 500 EV, “A year and a half ago, I said it can’t be that hard [to make an Abarth version of the electric 500]. Electric cars are so fun to drive already. The good news is that we are actively working on it, and once it’s confirmed, it will be relatively quick.
“The bad news is that it’s more complicated to deliver than I thought. If you want to do a real Abarth, it’s not the same electric powertrain. Once it has the power and torque you want, it’s no longer the same drivetrain, nor the same transmission or brakes. The whole thing has to be adapted.”
Abarth’s plans are ambitious for the performance version of the 500e. The new car will need a new drivetrain, a modified chassis, and enough performance and range to make potential buyers excited.
What can we expect from the Abarth 500 EV, and will it come to the U.S.?
The existing electric 500 is not what we might consider a performance car. It has a 0 to 60 mph time of 9.0 seconds, a top speed of 93 mph, and a range of 199 miles. Those specs are unlikely to get EV buyers excited here in the U.S. Performance and long-range dominate the conversation in America, so Fiat will need to improve these specs.
Fiat and Abarth have not announced any official details or performance numbers for the new car, but Autocar believes that they are aiming for a 0 to 60 mph sprint under 7.0 seconds and a top speed of over 100 mph. Range will likely be under 200 miles, which might scare U.S. customers. That is due to the small size of the 500 chassis, and how many batteries you can actually fit within it.
Abarth also announced that there will be other performance models coming, with the aim of offering somewhere between one and three for sale at any one time. There is no official word if the Abarth 500 EV will be coming to the U.S. or its pricing. The new Abarth could play a role in Stellantis’ move to go all-electric here in America. It could also serve as a way to re-introduce the brand to American buyers and set the stage for a larger Fiat presence in the American market.
Only time will tell if the U.S. will get a new Abarth performance car. Expect the official announcement of the Abarth 500 EV to come very soon.