Skip to main content

Fiat brings its highly customizable Centoventi electric concept to CES 2020

CES is all about the future, but Fiat will use it to celebrate the past as well. At CES 2020, the Italian automaker will show off an electric car concept called the Centoventi. First seen at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the concept’s name means “120” in Italian, signifying Fiat’s 120 years in the car business.

The number-based name certainly fits with other Fiat models like the 500 and 124 Spider, and the boxy shape resembles past no-nonsense Fiat designs such as the original Uno or Panda. But this isn’t just another small hatchback. The Centoventi is designed to be highly customizable. Owners can continually change the car to suit their needs, rather than trade it in for something else.

If the Centoventi went into production (Fiat hasn’t confirmed anything), it would only be painted in one color. But owners would still be able to change the color by swapping out the roof panel, bumpers, wheel covers, and choosing different exterior vinyl wraps. Customers would have four color options under a program cutely named “4U.” The interior has a modular design that will allow owners to install “interchangeable interior accessories” in a “plug and play” fashion, according to Fiat.

Even the battery pack is customizable. The Centoventi can be configured for between 60 miles and 300 miles of range. This is vaguely similar to Tesla’s previous practice of selling one battery pack, but using software to limit range on entry-level models. However, Fiat indicated extra range could be temporarily unlocked for longer trips. A press release said the setup would be “perfect for urban commuting and a weekend getaway by the sea or in the mountains.”

The Centoventi also features two outward-facing screens — one in the windshield, and one in the tailgate. They’re meant to project messages to passersby when the car is parked. Fiat suggested these could be used to show that the driver has paid for parking, or whether the car is “busy” or “free” (if it’s part of a car-sharing service, presumably), but that hardly seems worth the extra cost of installing screens.

Fiat’s future electric car plans are unclear. The automaker currently makes an electric version of the 500, but only to satisfy California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, which requires high-volume automakers to sell battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell cars in the state. Fiat has never shown much interest in marketing the electric 500 –called 500e — elsewhere. The electric model will be dropped from the United States along with the rest of the 500 lineup, and it’s unclear if anything will replace it. Fiat has said the next 500 will be electric only, but the car may not be sold in the U.S. The 500 is being withdrawn just as rival Mini launches its electric Cooper SE.

Fiat’s American siblings will also appear at CES 2020. Chrysler will show its Airflow Vision concept, while Jeep will unveil plug-in hybrid versions of the Wrangler, Compass, and Renegade, dubbed “4xe.”

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Stellantis is bringing battery swapping to the Fiat 500e
Profile view of a 2024 Fiat 500e.

Stellantis is partnering with California-based startup Ample on EV battery swapping, potentially allowing EVs to swap depleted battery packs for fully charged ones in just a few minutes.

On Thursday, the two companies announced a binding agreement to integrate Ample's battery-swapping tech into Stellantis EVs. That will start with a fleet of 100 Fiat 500e hatchbacks that will be deployed by Stellantis' Free2Move car-sharing service in Madrid in 2024. Ample currently has four battery-swapping stations in the Spanish capital, with a further nine planned, CEO Khaled Hassounah told Digital Trends and other media in a virtual roundtable. Further plans weren't discussed, but it's worth noting that the 500e is coming to the U.S. in 2024 as well, and Free2Move is already active in a few U.S. cities.

Read more
Fiat’s 500e returns as a stylish and affordable small EV
Front three quarter view of a 2024 Fiat 500e.

The 2024 Fiat 500e marks the return of an EV that its maker once asked Americans not to buy. Fiat certainly thought the timing wasn't right for that original 500e, but the timing of the new version, which is scheduled to arrive in early 2024, seems impeccable.

The first Fiat 500e was sold only in California and Oregon, and was built purely to satisfy California's zero-emission vehicle mandate. Early EV enthusiasts liked it, thanks to an affordable price and retro styling carried over from a concurrent gasoline 500 model. But Sergio Marchionne, then head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (the predecessor of current Fiat parent Stellantis), said the company lost money on each car and once declared that he hoped customers didn't buy it.

Read more
Cadillac aims to balance its lineup with a small electric SUV
Exterior of the Cadillac Optiq compact electric SUV.

Cadillac will add an entry-level electric SUV to its lineup in 2024.

The Cadillac Optiq is a "luxury compact SUV" slotting below the Lyriq in the brand's EV hierarchy. Photos released with the brief announcement show styling features that tie the Optiq to the larger Lyriq, such as split taillights, but other details won't be released until closer to the Optiq's launch.

Read more