Fiat adds SUV styling to the 500L minivan
TURIN -- Fiat will give the 500L Trekking a European debut at the Geneva auto show on March 5 and begin sales in the region in June. The car will compete in Europe against subcompact SUVs such as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, Ford EcoSport, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur. Fiat has not disclosed pricing for the model.
The 500L Trekking, which is a variant of the 500L small minivan, has SUV features such as higher ground clearance, bigger wheels, rugged wheel arches and an electronically controlled front differential that increases traction on slippery surfaces.
The 500L Trekking was previewed in October at the Los Angeles auto show.
The 500L is the first Fiat model developed from its conception to be sold in Europe and the United States. Fiat will begin rolling out the 500L in European markets in November. U.S. sales of the 500L and 500L Trekking start in June.
A seven-seat 500XL variant is expected to go on sale in Europe in July. The 500XL won't be sold in the U.S. because Fiat doesn't believe there is a market for seven-seat small minivans.
Fiat expects the 500L Trekking to account for half of all 500L sales in the United States and about 15 percent in Europe.
Fiat builds the 500L and its variants for global markets in Kragujevac, Serbia, in a factory that once made Yugo cars. Fiat has invested 1 billion euros to upgrade the plant.
Fiat hopes a new electronic traction management system, called Traction+, will help the 500L Trekking attract buyers. The system simulates the behavior of a self-locking electromechanical differential and can be operated at speeds of up to 30kph.
500e on show
Fiat is also displaying in Geneva its battery-powered 500e, but the company reiterated that the model will go on sale only in the United States, starting in the second quarter.
The 500e has an 111-hp electric motor and a 140km range. Its battery pack can be recharged in less than four hours, Fiat said.