Fiat Centoventi concept previews new Fiat Panda in Geneva

New all-electric Fiat Centoventi city car study is packed with innovation and previews the next-generation Panda

Fiat has used the Geneva Motor Show to reveal Concept Centoventi, a city car study that celebrates 120 years of the Fiat brand and also previews the next-generation Fiat Panda. The Centoventi (Italian for 120) was a surprise arrival at the show, and showcased a series of innovations that are designed to make the city car class attractive to a new generation of buyers.

From the outside, the Centoventi has a look that’s a futuristic evolution of the Panda city car. Design touches include chunky wheelarches and a boxy overall look, while the study features interchangeable plastic body and roof panels that will allow buyers to change the look of their car to suit their tastes. The nose also features a stylised multi-bar grille, inspired by the original Panda, but this is designed to show the charging status of the car’s electric powertrain

• Best city cars to buy 2019

At the back, the one-piece tailgate features a digital display that can show messages to other drivers, or even be used as an advertising billboard – so owners could earn money with the car simply by being parked at the side of the road.

A panoramic roof is fitted to the Centoventi, but again owners can adapt the roof to their needs, with solid plastic panels, roof bars and even a solar charging panel that can keep the cabin cool when the car is parked on warm days.

There are even more innovations in the cabin. The barn-style side doors open to reveal what Fiat describes as a ‘decontented’ interior. This simplified space features a driver’s seat, rear bench, a minimalist dashboard and a large mounting bracket where the passenger seat would normally sit. This bracket is designed to allow the fitment of different modules, whether it’s a passenger seat, a storage basket, child’s car seat or even a pet carrier. In addition, the Centoventi also includes the ability to change seat fabrics so owners can personalise and update their cars during their ownership.

For the dashboard, Fiat has created a ‘plug and play’ system that allows owners to fit different kit to suit their needs. The dashtop features a system of holes that can take additional storage modules, cup holders, smartphone docks and other devices into place.

There’s also the option to fit different-sized instrument clusters. The standard digital display appears as a pod ahead of the steering wheel, but Fiat will also offer a super-sized 20-inch display called Lingotto (named after Fiat’s famous factory with the test track on the roof) which fills the full width of the dashboard area. The doors have the option to fit different storage options or moulded armrests, too.

Under the skin, Fiat is using the Centoventi to promote its ambition to make electric drive available for the masses. As standard the Centoventi has a battery capable of delivering a modest 60-mile range. But with the ability to swap and add battery packs, Fiat claims that this range can be boosted to up to 300 miles. Batteries can be added at Fiat dealers in as little as 5 minutes, while an easy-access battery pod under the passenger space allows quick battery changes for those in a hurry.

While just a concept, the Centoventi delivers a fascinating insight into future Fiat city cars. With a tie up with Apple confirmed, and the arrival of an all-new Fiat 500 in 2020, it will be interesting to see how many of the Centoventi’s innovations eventually make production.

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