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Australia's most affordable electric car? 2023 Fiat 500e locked in for local arrival

Fiat Australia will introduce the 500e in early 2023.

Good things come to those who wait, and if you like cute, Italian electric cars then Fiat Australia has good news for you.

The company has confirmed that the Fiat 500e will finally arrive in Australia in early 2023, almost precisely three years after it was revealed in Europe. The decision effectively secures Fiat’s future in Australia, with questions surrounding its long-term future in this market since it declined to add the new model in 2020.

Fiat has persisted with the petrol-powered 500 model that first launched in 2008 and has only been supported by the Abarth version - the 595 - since the local operation discontinued the 500X.

No local details for the 500e have been confirmed, but given its compact size there’s a chance it could be one of the cheapest electric cars on the market when it does arrive. That title is currently held by the BYD Atto 3, which starts at $44,381, while the 500e costs the equivalent of $35,000 in the right-hand drive UK market.

Local taxes and charges mean a direct comparison isn’t possible, but there’s reason to believe Fiat Australia could price the 500e in the low $40k range or even below it - which would be a major breakthrough for EVs in this country.

The 500e is powered by an 87kW electric motor that drives the front wheels and a 42kWh lithium-ion battery, which provides up to 320km of driving range when tested on the WLTP standard.

An 85kW fast charging system is also available, which can top up 50km of range in five minutes and 80 per cent in 35 minutes under the right circumstances.

The new compact city car is also available with more advanced technology than ever before. This includes Level 2 autonomous capabilities thanks to adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring and surround-view cameras.

It’s also bigger than the existing 500, with the body 60mm longer, 600mm wider and the wheelbase extended by 20mm to create more interior space.

This new, larger 500 is only available with the electric powertrain, with petrol engines restricted exclusively to the older model. The future of which is uncertain, with Fiat UK announcing that it will phase out non-electfired models by July 2022, raising questions about the longevity of the petrol-powered 500 in right-hand drive.