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Fiat finally goes electric by adding hybrid power to its 500 and Panda models

Fiat has at last added hybrid engine choices to its popular citycar models, saying the move slashes CO2 emissions by up to 30%.

The Italian brand’s big-selling Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda ranges are first to be electrified, with the addition of new mild hybrid petrol technology available for order this month.

The move builds on a commitment to produce an all-electric Fiat 500 later in the year.

Further hybrid and electric options will be rolled out this year and next across the Fiat range as part of the company’s electrification strategy.

But it’s the 500 and Panda that are first out of the starting blocks with mild hybrid powerplants on sale now for delivery next month for the 500 and in March for the Panda.

They are the first citycars in the giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group to be fitted with new petrol mild hybrid technology.

Fiat says the new versions are giving customers “the first steps towards more sustainable urban driving”.

The 500 and Panda will be available with a new petrol mild hybrid engine that combines the latest 3-cylinder FireFly 1.0-litre engine family with a 12-volt BSG electric motor and a lithium battery that delivers 70hp (51kW). Stop&Start technology is included.

Fiat says that compared to the outgoing 1.2-litre 69hp petrol engine, the mild hybrid version improves fuel efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions on the road “by up to 30 per cent without impeding performance”.

The new 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine has a peak power output of 70hp (51kW) at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 92Nm at 3,500rpm.

The powerplant includes a compact combustion chamber, high-tumble intake ducts and external Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), providing better thermal efficiency.

The cars contain a special die-cast aluminium crankcase, developed in collaboration with Teksid, to reduce start-up times and contain the weight of the engine to just 77kg.

The system also recovers energy during braking and deceleration, storing it in a lithium battery with a capacity of 11Ah, and uses it to restart the engine in Stop&Start mode and to assist during acceleration.

Both cars feature 6-gear manual transmission aimed at improving fuel economy in out-of-town driving, thanks to new low-friction bearings and gaskets and the use of a specific high-efficiency lubricant.

Special ‘Launch Editions’ have been created for both cars. They can be recognised by a ‘Hybrid’ logo on the rear and an exclusive ‘H’ logo, formed by two dew drops, on the centre panel. There’s an exclusive ‘Dew Green’ exterior, too.

The cars also boast new industry-first seating in the form of Seaqual Yarn, a new weaved material derived from recycled plastic.

The 500 and the Panda are Fiat’s biggest sellers, with around 400,000 units sold in the past year.

The two-door 500 was launched in 2007, based on a legendary earlier 500 first made in 1957. The Panda is in its third generation, having been introduced in 1980.

Fiat Chrysler is on the verge of merging with France’s giant PSA Group, maker of Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Vauxhall and other brands.

Belfast Telegraph