The 2019 Geneva International Motor Show sees the debut of the Fiat Concept Centoventi, a concept vehicle 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 the Fiat Concept Centoventi, the market's most affordable electric mobility solution and one of the few also able to provide a really meaningful range, ideal for tackling long out-of-town trips. To conceive and develop it, the brand focused its attention on its most popular, affordable and ingenious side, mining the vein that has yielded cars with incredibly modular interiors and striking stylish personality. Fittingly, the Fiat Concept Centoventi projects the brand into the future, with its innate ability to ‘democratise’ everything appealing and trendsetting: ‘The ABC of cars. Affordable but Cool’.
Fiat Concept Centoventi - a brief outline
The 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/her life or day, without no customisation restrictions linked to the time of purchase. In fact, it will be produced in just one livery, which customers will be able to personalise using the ‘4U’ programme, 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 when it comes to colours, interior and 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 car 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 Centoventi fans.
In other words, the 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, while taking a modern approach to some trademark style elements that hint to the Panda of the 1980’s. The Fiat Concept Centoventi is inspired by Italian design and embodies Fiat's ‘less is more’ ethos, which means getting rid of everything unnecessary and complex in a car to provide more space for people (More You), attention to the environment and the community (More Care) and the brand's DNA in terms of values and looks (More Fiat).
By playing these three cards, the Fiat Concept Centoventi revolutionises 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.
The Fiat Concept Centoventi: an innovative business model
So, the Fiat Concept Centoventi can be constructed just as the owner wishes, inaugurating a new business model involving Mopar® - the FCA group division that specialises in accessories, parts and services and enables innovative product personalisation, 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, dashboard and door storage compartments, seat cushions, etc. - can 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. This is, therefore, 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.
Cockpit with modular layout, on the ‘plug and play’ principle
Modular, roomy and well lit are words that best describe the cockpit of the Fiat Concept Centoventi, 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 world famous Lego blocks.
The same approach is found on the door panels, which are totally customisable 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 comprise a retractable bench and a back which rotates to make a ‘trunk’ with extraordinary load capacity.
Innovative seat and head restraint materials
Through its materials, the 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 sneakers - fashion icons 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. This innovative plastic is also antimicrobic, UV-resistant and completely washable. Plus 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 to create innovative, functional, flexible seating. The process is also able to create fabric weaves of varying cross-section, which avoid the generation of waste materials requiring disposal.
New patented system of holes for the dashboard and new ‘Lingotto’ 20-inch / 508 mm instrument cluster
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 cosy, comfortable environment.
Just as revolutionary, the instrument panel is available in two versions: the first, perfect for the Millennial generation, makes the smartphone the heart of the system, in combination with the cluster's main 10-inch / 254 mm screen, while the second, more traditional option features a second integrated display, giving a cluster of 20-inches / 508 mm.
In the first version, at no extra cost, drivers can hook up their smartphone or tablet to the dashboard to use its navigation, music, messaging and other functions.
Those seeking a more traditional solution can opt for the ‘Lingotto’ instrument cluster, a sophisticated, Full Digital 20-inch / 508 mm device enclosed in a support styled that evokes 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. And the part of the ‘Lingotto’ instrument cluster that faces towards the windscreen has an additional display perfect for showing car-sharing messages.
Just one customisable livery
The Fiat Concept Centoventi shifts the automotive paradigm. A single colour will be available, similar to treated metal plate, to simplify production, but at the same time the car will be extremely customisable.
The new ‘4U’ programme allows customers to choose the combination of four roofs, four bumpers, four wheel covers and four wrapping films which, combined with an extensive catalogue of accessories, will make the Fiat Concept Centoventi both unique and exclusive.
Uniquely, the wrapping can be performed by any dealer at any time, when requested by the customer. The operation is low cost and very fast, courtesy of the remarkably linear and flat exterior surfaces. The effect is similar to a metallic paint job but unlike paint it will not be forever.
Born ‘open’ but ready to be ‘closed’ with style and innovation
The standard Fiat Concept Centoventi comes with an open roof - which is of course closed by a ‘cap’ - and is perfect for driving with the wind in your hair. As with the other details, the roof can also be customised by choosing one of the available roof solutions - two-colour polycarbonate top, canvas soft top, integrated cargo box and even a roof that integrates an innovative solar panel - the 50 watts generated by the solar panel will keep the car cool when it is parked and power the innovative digital display arranged under the tailgate.
The car becomes a social media device thanks to the modern display on the tailgate
The large tailgate can accommodate an innovative display that enables the 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 for example, recoup the cost of parking.
A modern reinterpretation of Fiat’s stylish language
Everything in the Fiat Concept Centoventi says Fiat, particularly in its most charming and functional details, like the retro-futuristic minimalist hinges and locks, the new multifunctional dashboard that recalls the famous pocket, slender seats and coloured wheel covers, which today use the sector's most innovative materials and the front grille where the familiar vertical vents become the battery charge indicator LEDs.
The Fiat identity is not only evident in these details - the car's overall exterior look is also typical of the Italian brand. In a simple, uncluttered style, the new Fiat Concept Centoventi has rugged, compact, almost monolithic proportions, with dimensions that make the most of every space, to the point where the large block of the cockpit ‘rests’ on the one underneath, separated by a straight waistrail which underlines its two-box look and short line of contact with the bonnet. This impression of solidity is also emphasised by the wide door bumpers made from a new expanded foam material that absorbs scratches and knocks without denting thanks to its elasticity. What's more, their 3D texture emphasises the feeling of protection and safety conveyed by the car's exterior.
Modulable electric range of up to 500 km
The freedom to customise is also clear in the electrical power source that drives the Fiat Concept Centoventi. It comprises a set of modular batteries that offer the greatest possible flexibility of use. As standard, the car comes with a factory-mounted battery with a range of 100 km. But if a longer range is needed, up to 3 additional batteries, each giving an increase of 100 km, 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.
Impressively, the way the car is designed, with the roll centre exactly midway between the two axle shafts, and the placing of the batteries underneath the vehicle's centre of gravity, mean that its weight distribution and handling are unchanged regardless of the number of batteries installed. The braking system is suitably sized to ensure maximum deceleration even when fully laden.
Last but not least, a multiple charging socket is located at the bottom of the windscreen. Specifically, this is a cable reel housed underneath the trim, which eliminates the need for a cable cavity in the boot and, thanks to its central position, is equidistant from charging points on either side, or can act as a hub for several vehicles in case of energy sharing. The socket lights up in the dark and can also be used as an electric torch and windscreen defrosting device.
Perfect for business and for sharing
As well as for individual use, the Fiat Concept Centoventi is born ready to become the future star of company fleets, as well as for sharing with other users. This is no surprise, since it 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.