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From City Car to Pickup, Fiat’s Geneva Concepts Preview July Debut of New Panda “Family”

by | February 26, 2024

Geneva Motor Show-goers will get a first look this week at an array of new Fiat concept vehicles. A next-generation take on the long-running Fiat Panda, they’ll include a mix of products from microcompact city car to pickup. And they’ll use a new “multi-energy platform” capable of running on everything from gas to pure battery power, according to Fiat CEO Olivier Francois. But the concepts are more than fantasy in chrome, with production versions set to begin rolling out this coming summer.

Fiat "Giga-Panda" Concept

All five of the Panda-based concepts share a “multi-energy platform.”

Even before Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merged with France’s PSA Group in 2021 to form the global giant Stellantis one of the big questions was what would happen with the struggling Fiat brand?

It appears that’s getting answered this week at the 2024 Geneva Motor Show. Fiat is making one of the biggest announcements to come during the event’s media preview with the debut of an assortment of new concept vehicles. Production models will begin rolling out later this year.

“All,” said brand boss Olivier Francois, are “children of Panda,” the pint-sized city car that has been a mainstay of the Fiat brand since 1980. Collectively, they will cover at least five different body styles, including a city car, an SUV and a pickup, each of which “share(s) the same philosophy: functionality without ever sacrificing fun.”

“Multi-energy platform”

Fiat CEO Olivier Francois

The five concepts focus on “functionality without ever sacrificing fun,” said Fiat CEO Olivier Francois.

Fiat is just rolling out the latest take on its most famous product line, the 500 – Cinquecento, as its known in Italian. Sold only in battery-electric form as the Fiat 500e, it was previously billed as a first step in a transition to an all-electric brand. Fiat previously announced plans to become an all-battery brand in Europe by 2030, with EVs accounting for half of its U.S. sales by decade’s end.

The concepts debuting in Geneva suggest Fiat may be rethinking that strategy. During a video presentation ahead of the Swiss show’s media preview, Francois noted that all are “based on a multi-energy platform – which means (they) will be available globally and with all types of fuel,” including gas, hybrid and all-electric.

The new models will also make extensive use of sustainable materials, from recycled plastics to interior fabrics made from bamboo.

More Concept Car News

Five – or more – production models

While the Panda may be best-known in city car form, the underlying platform has underpinned a variety of different over the last four decades. Now, the fourth-generation Panda will include at least five different variants:

Fiat City Car Concept

Fiat City Car Concept

City Car: Think of this as a “Mega-Panda,” the automaker suggested in a preview of the Geneva unveilings. The show car was inspired, Fiat explained, by the brand’s unusual Lingotto building in Turin, with its rooftop test track, “including structural lightness, space optimization and brightness.” One of the more unusual features is a built-in “self-winding cable” for charging up the all-electric version.

Fiat Pickup Concept

Fiat Pickup concept.

Pickup: One of Fiat’s most popular models outside Europe today is the Strada-based pickup. This concept, the automaker explained, “blends the concept of a pick-up with the functionality of an LCV and the comfort of a SUV in a size that is suitable to urban environments all over the world.” Fiat has not yet revealed whether an all-wheel-drive system might be offered.

Fiat Fastback Concept

Fiat Fastback concept.

Fastback: This concept is based on what today is known as the Fiat Fastback in Brazil and the Fiat Tipo in the Middle East and Africa. It’s larger than the City Car show vehicle, and adopts a more sporty design with its aggressively raked roofline. “The Fastback is proof that Fiat could improve its sustainable commitment without giving up on performance,” the automaker said.

Fiat SUV Concept

Fiat SUV Concept.

SUV: If the City Car concept is a “Mega-Panda,” this crossover takes it to an even larger scale. It’s a “Giga-Panda,” Fiat suggested, designed to “meet customers’ ultimate needs in terms of safety, versatility, and design, bringing roominess and robustness to families all over the world.” As with the pickup prototype, there’s no word on whether an all-wheel-drive version might be offered.”

Fiat Camper concept.

Camper: “This concept,” said Fiat, “pays homage to the ‘Fun-ctionality’ of the Panda from the 80s, recalling the versatility of a car that was made for the city with the features of a SUV and the soul of a trusty companion.” The design offers a bed and, among other things, picks up on the pixelated lighting of the other Fiat show cars, including block-light spotlights built into the pop-up roof rack.

Production plans

Fiat Concept - interior

The Fiat concepts all make use of sustainable materials in their interiors.

Unlike so many show cars that are little more than fantasies in chrome, Fiat CEO Olivier stressed that they will have a very real future.

While the concepts are a bit cartoon-like, “They are not a dream,” he said in the video, adding that “They will be coming to market,” albeit in a bit more practical form. One of the five will debut on July 11, 2024 – though Olivier didn’t say which. The rest will roll out in production form by 2027.

Whether they will all offer the same powertrain mix remains to be revealed. Also left unanswered is what markets they will target, though at least some of the production versions are expected to come to North America.


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