The 2019 Geneva Motor Show sees the debut of the Fiat Concept Centoventi, the concept car that perfectly expresses the Italian brand’s idea of electric mass mobility in the near future. It is the expression of a bold, democratic future vision based on 120 years of history and experience in the field – hence the name of the prototype that means “One Hundred and Twenty” in Italian – which, maintaining the tradition, is destined to break away from the past and push beyond. Just as in the Fifties, for example, when the Fiat 500 sparked an industrial and cultural revolution, overcoming traditional categories in looks, design and engineering to become a masterpiece, unlike anything else in the automotive industry history, the first real example of mobility affordable to the mass market.
But can we imagine something just as revolutionary in the future of our modern cities? The answer to this question is Fiat Concept Centoventi, the market’s most affordable electric mobility solution and one of the few also able to provide a really worthwhile range, for tackling long out-of-town trips. To conceive and develop it, the brand has focused its attention on its most pop, affordable, ingenious side, mining the vein that has yielded cars with incredibly modular interiors and striking stylistic personality. Fittingly, the Fiat Concept Centoventi projects the brand into the future, with its innate ability to “democratize” everything appealing and trendsetting: “The ABC of cars. Affordable But Cool”.
Fiat Concept Centoventi is fundamentally a “blank canvas” ready to be painted to suit the customer’s tastes and needs at any time of his life or day, without no customization restrictions linked to the specific time of purchase. In fact, it will be produced in just one livery, which customers will be able to personalize using the “4U” program, with a choice of 4 roofs, 4 bumpers, 4 wheel covers and 4 external wrappings. So, just like modern devices, this vehicle can be updated with the greatest freedom and imagination in its colors, interior configuration, roof configuration, infotainment system and even battery range. And this is one of the concept car’s strong points: owners no longer have to wait for new special editions or facelifts, as they can “change” their cars any day they like. It is made even more revolutionary by the presence, at the launch, of 120 additional accessories that will generate a genuinely new business model, as well as a community of Fiat Concept Centoventi fans.
In other words, Fiat Concept Centoventi is the response to a real design and business challenge, which embodies the functional spirit of the brand and pays tribute to its 120 years of history, at the same time, with a modern take on some trademark style elements that hint to the Panda of the 1980s. Fiat Concept Centoventi is inspired by Italian design and embodies Fiat’s “less is more” concept, which means getting rid of everything unnecessary and complex in a car to provide more space for people, for attention to the environment and the community and for the brand’s DNA in terms of values and looks. By playing these three cards, Fiat ConceptCentoventi revolutionizes the idea of electric mobility, in town and out, successfully overcoming the tougher and tougher challenges – in terms of traffic, regulations and costs of ownership – while simultaneously making the most of the new opportunities offered by electricity.
So Fiat Concept Centoventi can be constructed just as the owner wishes, inaugurating a new business model involving Mopar – the FCA group division that specializes in accessories, parts and services and enables innovative product personalization, – the sales network and increasingly digital customers.
Except for six features (bumpers, polycarbonate roof, livery, Lingotto instrument cluster, batteries and digital tailgate), which can only be installed at dealerships, the other 114 accessories specially designed by Mopar – including the sound system, the dashboard and door storage compartments, the seat cushions, etc. – can also be purchased on-line and fitted by the customer at his own home. What’s more, some simply structured accessories, such as a cup-holder or a document-holder, for example, can actually be printed using a 3D printer, in the owner’s home, at their dealership or at a specialist printing shop. So this is a new business model for automotive accessories, enabling them to be resold or traded on the Web, nurturing a real community of brand fans or connoisseurs of Fiat’s Italian design, just as with collectors’ items. This new business model is focused on e-Commerce, the virtual market that knows no boundaries.
Modular, roomy and well lit are the words that best describe the Fiat Concept Centoventi cockpit, which is totally reconfigurable and can accommodate up to four people. You only have to get on board to realise that it has been designed around people and the way they relate to today’s world. In line with the car’s philosophy, various parts of the interior are created on the “plug and play” principle. The dashboard has small holes into which a multitude of additional components, of any shape and function, can be fitted, thanks to the patented interlocking mounting system, rather like the famous Lego blocks.
The same approach is found on the door panels, which are totally customizable and inspired by refrigerator doors: with flat surfaces and minimal design, they can be fitted with storage pockets, bottle holders and audio speakers as and when required. The seats are innovative, too, with a bare back structure made from eco-sustainable materials, while the cushions and head restraints can easily be replaced to change their colours and materials. The front passenger seat can even be substituted with a storage box or child seat if necessary. The rear seats consist of a retractable bench and a back which rotates to make a “trunk” with extraordinary load capacity.
Through its materials, Fiat Concept Centoventi explores new design horizons, drawing inspiration from trendy everyday items and exploiting innovative technological solutions and unique production processes. One of the many points of reference used are the sneakers, a fashion icon and very high-performance products. They inspired the seats of the Fiat Concept Centoventi, a masterpiece of Italian (or rather Fiat) creativity, achieved with the aid of top industrial partners. The seat, for example, is made from an innovative plastic produced using an exclusive, patented production process involving a new plastic formulated using polyolefin resins.
The end result is a material three times lighter than other mouldable plastics, like foams – and what’s more it is coloured directly in the batch, meaning it has no external coating, looks attractive and is soft to the touch. Furthermore, this innovative plastic is antimicrobic, UV-resistant and completely washable. Not to mention that it can be coloured in an infinite variety of shades, including metallic and pearly colours and bright or saturated pigments.
The “3D knit” technology of the seat backs and head restraints, made from 100% recycled yarns, is just as innovative. This technology has already been successfully used not only in the sports sector, such as for sneakers or other technical-sports garments, but also in interior design for creating innovative, functional, flexible seating. Moreover, the particular process is able to create fabric weaves of varying cross-section, which avoid the generation of waste materials requiring disposal.
In front of the driver is the innovative, one-piece dashboard, which tips its hat to the Panda’s famous, historic “pocket” with an amazing Fiat-patented system of holes for the secure, personalised “anchoring” of a variety of accessories – from a cup holder to a bottle box, and from a glove compartment or anything else the customer may need – to build up a cozy, comfortable environment.
Just as revolutionary, the instrument panel is available in two solutions: the first, perfect for the Millennial generation, makes the smartphone the heart of the system, in combination with the cluster’s main 10″ screen, while the second, more traditional option features a second integrated display, giving a cluster of 20″. In the former case, at no extra cost, drivers can “hook up” their smartphone or tablet to the dashboard to use its navigation, music, messaging, etc. functions.
Anyone seeking a more traditional solution, on the other hand, can opt for the “Lingotto” instrument cluster, a sophisticated, Full Digital 20” device enclosed in a support styled to evoke the historic Fiat plant in Turin. Integrated in the “Lingotto” display’s support are HMI driving assistance and safety functions, such as direction indicator, Blind Sport Alert system, braking system and battery charge status. Not forgetting that the part of the “Lingotto” instrument cluster facing towards the windscreen has an additional display perfect for showing car-sharing messages.
The large tailgate can accommodate an innovative display that enables Fiat Concept Centoventi to supersede the concept of connectivity to become a real social media device, on which messages can be shared with the outdoor world. When the vehicle is on the move, for obvious reasons of safety, the car will only show the Fiat logo, but once it stops, the driver can switch to “messenger” mode. What’s more, the digital tailgate can easily become an “advertising billboard”, which can be rented out to advertisers, to recoup the cost of parking, for example.
The freedom to customize is also clear in the electrical power source that drives Fiat Concept Centoventi. It consists of a set of modular batteries offering the great possible flexibility of use. As standard, the car comes with a factory-mounted battery with a range of 100 km (∼ 62 miles). But if a longer range is needed, up to 3 additional batteries, giving an increase of 100 km each, can be purchased or hired. The extra batteries are installed underneath the floor of the car, by the service network. A sliding rail which supports and connects the batteries makes their installation or removal particularly quick and easy. An additional battery, for mounting under the seat, is also available; it can be disconnected and put on charge directly in the user’s home or garage, just like the battery of a modern e-bike. The total range which can be achieved is 500 kilometres (∼ 310 miles).
As well as for individual use, Fiat Concept Centoventi is born ready to become the future star of company fleets, as well as for sharing with other users. No surprise, since Fiat Concept Centoventi excels in all aspects of urban mobility. It is the least expensive BEV on the market, partly thanks to the modular set of batteries, as well as being the easiest to clean, repair and service, with lower risk of damage and even lower total cost of ownership.