Today the issue of environmental sustainability is more relevant than ever. But way back in 1990, the world was presented with a pioneering version of the Fiat Panda that would revolutionise the concept of mobility.
In 1990, environmentally sustainable motoring seemed like a distant dream. Traditional combustion engines were viewed as the only viable means of propulsion. Yet Fiat went against the grain by introducing the concept of battery-powered cars.
The Turin-based company unveiled the Panda Elettra and became the world's first major manufacturer to launch an electric car on the market, a revolutionary innovation that introduced new driving habits and an eco-sustainable approach to mobility. The Panda Elettra was equipped with a 14 kW electric motor powered by 12 lead batteries, whose status could be monitored via the on-board computer. The car had a 100 km range at an average speed of around 50 km/h. Recharging took just 8 to 10 hours, a surprisingly short time in those days. But the most significant statistic concerned emissions, which were reduced to zero. In 1992 the Panda Elettra was further improved by boosting the engine output to 17.7 kW and replacing the lead-gel batteries with nickel-cadmium units. The result was the Panda Elettra 2, which remained in production until 1998.
The second-generation Panda was launched in 2003 and retained its sustainable attributes. The Fiat Panda Aria was presented at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show with an all-new, 0.9-litre twin cylinder turbo engine featuring the Multiair electronic inlet valve control system, outputting only 69 g/km of CO2. Sustainability was also reflected in the components, which were made of biodegradable materials, including the bodywork in semi-transparent eco-resin panels and natural materials, the experimental tyres with lower rolling resistance and the interior upholstered with linen and cotton, coconut fibre and eco-friendly resins.
This long tradition of sustainability is continued by the latest addition to the range, the Fiat Panda Hybrid presented in January 2020. The car is equipped with the new three-cylinder aspirated Firefly 1.0 engine, which guarantees up to 30% lower fuel consumption and emissions without sacrificing power output. The new 69 HP naturally aspirated engine is also paired with a 3.5 kW (almost 5 HP) 12 V starter-alternator, powered by an 11 Ah lithium-ion battery located under the driver's seat. Besides the engine technology with reduced environmental impact, the new Panda Hybrid has an updated interior upholstered with multi-award-winning SEAQUAL® fabric, which is made using plastic recovered from our seas, estuaries and oceans.
Thirty years ago Fiat Panda boldly embarked on the road to the future of mobility: that future is today.