Fiat goes hybrid

Fiat goes hybrid

The Fiat 500 and the Panda have been announced as the first cars in the FCA Group (recently merged with PSA) that will receive hybrid-drive technology. The 500 Mild Hybrid and the Panda Mild Hybrid will arrive in showrooms this spring.

There's a fully electric Fiat 500 on the way later in 2020, but for now these two 'Mild Hybrid'-badged models employ a three-cylinder 'FireFly' 1.0-litre petrol engine with a 12-volt belt-integrated starter generator (BSG) and a small lithium-ion battery. The whole lot delivers a modest 70hp, but, as both the 500 and Panda are tiny and light, that's not so bad. And, compared to the outgoing 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 69hp, the Mild Hybrids improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions on the road by up to 30 per cent - without impeding performance, according to Fiat.

Backing up the 70hp delivered at 6,000rpm is 92Nm of torque at 3,500rpm, with the engine featuring two valves per cylinder and a single chain-driven camshaft with continuous variable valve timing. An exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) set-up and a high compression ratio of 12:1 ensure better thermal efficiency, helping fuel economy and emissions. Fiat says it has developed the crankcase of the hybrid engine in collaboration with Teksid, with the case's high-pressure die-cast aluminium alloy form complemented by cast-iron cylinder liners - all of which ensures the engine weighs a mere 77kg.

Fiat has worked to reduce friction by using a crank mechanism with a bore/stroke ratio of 1.24, while a con-rod/crank device with a 10mm offset maximises efficiency. Meanwhile, the BSG is mounted directly on the three-cylinder engine and it recovers energy to store in the 11Ah battery. It'll even allow for coasting with the engine off at speeds below 30km/h. Coupled up to the mild hybrid propulsion unit is a six-speed manual gearbox, while the whole drivetrain sits 45mm closer to the road so these models of 500 and Panda have a lower centre-of-gravity.

High-spec 'Launch Edition' models of the 500 Mild Hybrid and Panda Mild Hybrid will be available, with a 'Hybrid' logo on the rear, an exclusive 'H' emblem formed from two 'dew drops' on the B-pillar and then the exclusive exterior colour of Dew Green. Inside, seats made from Seaqual Yarn (which is recycled plastic, with 10 per cent coming from the sea and 90 per cent from land) continue the ecological themes of the Mild Hybrid models.

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