I’M a big fan of basic cars because I like value for money more than I do leather seats and gadgets.
Which is why I’ve always liked the Fiat Panda and I really, really like the next all-electric Panda.
It comes with four seats and a steering wheel and, er, that’s about it. Simple.
Add clip-on accessories like a Bluetooth speaker or Go-Pro camera and take them with you when you arrive at your destination.
It’s like an adult Meccano kit with holes in the dash and door trims to customise as much or as little as you like.
But it gets better. The really clever bit is the battery compartment under the floor.
Only need a range of 62 miles? Then you only need one battery.
Need it to do 124 miles? Two batteries.
You’ll be able to buy or rent up to four extra batteries — including one that slots under the front seats — to extend the range up to 310 miles.
According to Fiat, these batteries could be added in less than five minutes.
The charge port in front of the windscreen has a self-retracting cable reel so you don’t muck up the boot or your chinos.
Why is no one else doing this?
Plus it will only come in grey paint to keep cost down but you can up-spec it with colour wraps and different body panels.
While other equipment such as roof rails, baby seats and a pet basket can be added or rented later — and you can design your own 3D-printed cup holders.
Of course, the barn doors on this Centoventi concept car are purely for show. They’d never work at Tesco.
But you can expect other cool touches like the + and – pedals (for go, and slow) and the simple P R N D button on the steering wheel to feature on the real Panda, due in 2023.
That’s the beauty of little electric cars. As well as costing pennies to run, you get lots of space in a small box because there’s no transmission tunnel.
Now we come to the price.
Whereas people will happily pay £29k for a trendy Fiat 500 convertible with batteries, Panda has to be for everyone.
So I’d expect it to cost around £12k, maybe even lower if it ends up sharing components with the Citroen AMI after the PSA and FCA merger is completed early next year.
Fiat boss Olivier Francois said: “The idea is to have a full electric vehicle at the price of a combustion-engined car.
“If we can do that, it’s totally true to the Panda’s mission.”
He’s right. He needs to keep it ABC: Affordable but cool.
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