September 29, 2023

Fiat 500e Gelateria Edition: a small electric car that doubles as an ice cream parlor

What belongs in summer like a pool or lake bath, sunscreen or mosquito spray, cold beer or slushie? That’s right: delicious ice cream, preferably from a trusted Italian gelato shop. Or, if there is no stationary ice cream parlor on hand, you can use the mobile ice cream truck, which delivers ice cream to those people who cannot stock up on this ephemeral dessert in the immediate vicinity. By the way, the British seem to feel the same way as we do in Germany: 83% of people living in the UK think ice cream vans are an integral part of British culture.

At least that’s the claim made by a study commissioned by the local Fiat dealership. But in Great Britain in particular, the ice cream cart culture is being threatened by an unusual trend: more and more British municipalities are creating low-emission zones. In other words, low emission zones, where ice cream vans, which are often powered by diesel engines, are no longer allowed to enter. Especially in the capital, London, these areas are expanding more and more. In the boroughs of Camden, Greenwich and Westminster, diesel cars and vans are only allowed to enter to a limited extent or not at all.

“The smallest gelateria in the world”

Now Fiat UK has found a charming way to bring attention to this ‘problem’. At the importer’s initiative, an electrically powered ice cream van was created on the basis of the 500e convertible – prompting the manufacturer to call the van “the world’s smallest gelateria”. From the outside, the two-tone color scheme — cream on top, light blue on the bottom — looks pretty standard. Only the “Gelateria” lettering – small, bronze-coloured on the fenders and tailgate, and large, white on both doors – denotes the mobile ice cream parlor’s special feature. And of course the canopy, which folds up when the top is open, protecting the seller from being exposed to too much direct sunlight.

Some things inside have also been modified. The right-hand drive Fiat 500e in the Gelateria version does not have a passenger seat or any other seats in the rear. Customer service is done here. The two battery-operated chest freezers, which together have a capacity of 30 liters and provide enough space for 300 servings of ice cream, also stand out in the back. Above that is the dedicated counter, which holds three trays of frozen ice. There are also storage options for accessories such as ice cream cones, cups or spoons. The driver’s seat also got new upholstery, and there are foldable deck chairs on board, so ice cream can also be enjoyed in a comfortable position at the point of sale.

Authentic carillon

The Fiat 500e Gelateria also has a matching instrument inspired by the sounds of Italian operas. Of course, you shouldn’t miss the ice cream cart’s vocal accompaniment when you arrive. The song is activated with a single push of a button in the cockpit – in proper fashion with an ice cream cone button. Moreover, Fiat has also created a new type of ice cream for the occasion. It’s called Bicerin and it’s a traditional hot drink made of coffee, chocolate and oat milk, which is especially popular in Turin, the birthplace of Fiat.

Nothing is known about technical changes in the driveline. Also in the Gelateria version, the Fiat 500e Cabrio should have an output of 87 kW (118 hp) and a maximum 220 Nm electric motor driving the front axle. The total battery of 42 (37.3 net) kWh should ensure a WLTP range of up to 320 kilometers for the mobile ice cream van.

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Surely the Fiat 500e in Gelateria version is primarily a magic trick by the manufacturer to attract a little attention to its small electric convertible in the warm season. This has been very successful, but since ice cream vans are electric, delivery vehicles rather than basic vehicles have to be questioned. In this segment, supply across manufacturers is growing rapidly. Fiat’s parent company Stellantis in particular is currently very active here with its brands. It won’t be long before we see more and more e-vans from Fiat, Citroen, Peugeot or Opel as mobile ice cream parlors.