Fiat announces next-gen 500e, 500 Giardiniera wagon

Could the modern-day Giardiniera morph into Fiat\'s answer to the Mini Clubman?

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) excluded its two namesake brands from the five-year plan it presented to investors and journalists last Friday. Company boss Sergio Marchionne briefly mentioned some of his plans for Fiat during the Q&A session.

The 11-year old 500 will soon retire. It's one of Fiat's most popular models -- especially in Europe -- so it will spawn a successor. Though we know virtually nothing about the next-generation car, Marchionne revealed the battery-powered 500e model will return for a second generation in 2020. That's surprising; in 2014, he famously urged motorists not to buy one. His latest comments suggest Fiat has figured out (at least in theory) to make an electric car without losing money.

Fiat is looking into other ways to expand the 500 family.

"The Fiat 500 green concept extends beyond just the 500. We plan to leverage the iconic status and technology of the 500, extending the line-up to introduce a small car with best in-class interior roominess and unmistakable design, the Fiat 500 Giardiniera," he said, according to British magazine Autocar.

The Giardiniera he referred to is a wagon version (pictured) of the original 500. It kept the standard car's two-door layout and rear-engined configuration but engineers tilted the air-cooled, two-cylinder unit by 90 degrees to stuff it under the floor and clear up more space for cargo.

There's no word yet on what the born-again Giardiniera will look like, when it will arrive, or what it will be powered by. Fiat remains committed to expanding the 500 family, and the wagon could morph into the firm's answer to the Mini Clubman.

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