Fiat’s 500L Trekking is set to have its debut in Europe at the Geneva Auto Show on March 5. Sales will start this June in this market. This model will be going up against the subcompact SUVs like the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, Ford EcoSport, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur. The pricing details have not been unveiled yet. SUV elements can be found in the 500L Trekking – a version of the 500L small minivan.
These include higher ground clearance, larger wheels, rugged wheel arches and an electronically controlled front differential that raises the traction on slippery roads. We saw the 500L Trekking being previewed at the Los Angeles auto show last October. The 500L is the first model from Fiat to be created from its conception to be available in Europe and the U.S. Fiat dealerships in Europe will begin to get the 500L this November.
Meanwhile, the 500L and 500L Trekking will go on sale in the U.S. this June. It’s believed that a seven-seat 500XL variant will go on sale in Europe this July. The U.S. won’t be getting the 500XL since Fiat doesn’t think that seven-seat small minivans will have a market in this country. Fiat estimates that the 500L Trekking will make up about 50% of all 500L units sold in the U.S. It’s also believed to account for around 15% of sales in Europe.
Fiat assembles the 500L and its versions for global markets in Kragujevac, Serbia, in a plant that had rolled out Yugo cars in the past. To prepare this plant, Fiat made an investment of 1 billion euros.
Fiat is expecting that Traction+, a new electronic traction management system, will help attract customers to the 500L Trekking. This system behaves like a self-locking electromechanical differential and can be controlled at speeds of as fast as 30kph. In addition, Fiat is showing off its battery-powered 500e at the Geneva show. However, Fiat clarified that this model will start selling only in the U.S. in the second quarter.
One of the key features of the new Fiat 500L Trekking is the so-called Traction+. This standard feature helps enhance grip when the new Fiat 500L Trekking is traversing on rough or slippery terrain. Aside from being efficient, Traction+ emits lower levels of carbon dioxide and is more affordable than a conventional four-wheel drive system.
As designed, the new Traction+ system employs the advanced hardware of vehicles installed with ESC. Using special algorithms, the system’s control unit could control and manage the braking system to conduct an electronic simulation of the behavior of a self-locking electromechanical differential. The new Traction+ system offers more progressive features than traditional 4x4 systems thanks to optimized software and thanks to the fact its applies force through the hydraulic braking circuit. While the Traction+ offers a performance similar to a traditional 4x4 system, the new feature is much lighter. It is also easier to operate, as it could be activated by pushing a button on the dashboard, and is operable at speeds of up to 30 km/h.
In case the control unit detects drive wheel slippage when the vehicle is experiencing zero or low grip from any drive wheel, it would send a command to the hydraulic circuit to apply brakes to the wheel with the least grip. This action effectively transfers drive torque to the wheel with the most grip, thereby making it easier to handle the vehicle. This also ensures that the vehicle gets the best possible traction wherever there is poor grip while maintaining both directional stability and control.