François, who is also the CMO at Stellantis – formerly Fiat Chrysler Group – used the press conference as an opportunity to talk to Stefano Boeri, an architect whose firm is undertaking urban reforestation projects around the globe. ‘Cities of the future’ was the theme, so the pledge to phase out petrol and diesel was almost hidden amongst talk of ‘green corridors’ and the like.
“We are exploring the territory of sustainable mobility for all: this is our greatest project. Between 2025 and 2030, our product line-up will gradually become electric-only. This will be a radical change for Fiat,” said François.
He almost immediately pivoted away from this major piece of news, continuing: “Meanwhile, in the near future, only a few months from now, I am proud that we will see the conversion of the legendary track on the roof of the former Lingotto factory in Turin into the largest hanging gardens in Europe, hosting over 28,000 plants. A major, meaningful – and once again sustainable – project, due to revitalise the city of Turin, our home.”
At present, Fiat’s only pure electric car comes in the shape of the new 500, but according to the brand, its vision sees an expansion of electromobility as ‘barriers are overcome’. The brand identifies the cost of batteries – and therefore the overall cost of cars – as a major hurdle. It will be looking to increase the accessibility of EV through “new financial products that can lower the barrier to entry”.
Fiat is also very conscious of the impact of urban areas on the environment – something upon which the Environment Day press conference was heavily focussed. “When we consider that cities are responsible for more than 70 per cent of CO2 emissions, which are at the root of global warming and the emissions of pollutants that endanger our health, it is clear that cities are where we need most to change,” said Stefano Boeri.
Removing – or lowering – the barriers to EV adoption in urban areas was another element that Fiat is addressing. It cites the need to increase the number of private charge points at new apartment buildings as well as adapting existing buildings, and the need to increase the availability of fast charging stations as other major challenges to take on. A ‘rethink of urban planning’ is what Fiat was driving at with this event.
To that end, the reinvention of Fiat’s Lingotto factory’s rooftop track as a hanging garden starts to make a bit more sense. According to architect and urban planner, Boerie: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how fragile our lives and bodies can be. And so, it showed us the importance of improving the environment in which we live. Trees absorb CO2, drastically reduce pollution, reduce energy consumption and the ‘urban heat island’ effect. Trees are increasing the biodiversity of living species and making cities safer, more pleasant, healthier and attractive.”
Integrating personal transport in this urban revitalisation fits with the Fiat 500’s raison d'être and provides a narrative for the brand to talk about. How the 2025-2030 electrification process will actually look is the next piece of the puzzle and we eagerly await some more concrete (if you’ll pardon the pun) plans from Fiat.