Italian carmaker Fiat is bringing the battery-electric 500e back to North America. A lot has changed since the last time it was on the market here.

The Stellantis-owned brand has been withering for the past decade with interesting but slow-selling products. Its sales in the U.S. dwindled, but the automaker thinks that with its new model, the electric version of its most popular vehicle worldwide, it can change American’s minds on small cars.

“The Fiat 500e is engineered and designed to be the best city car ever. Although some customers may choose to use the car in a variety of drive cycles, most people drive around 33 miles a day and will benefit from the small package and 149 miles of range. The Fiat 500e can make multiple trips to and from work or running errands without having to recharge every day,” Aamir Ahmed, head of Fiat North America told Newsweek.

Fiat brought its gas-powered 500 to the U.S. in 2011 and the 500e electric vehicle (EV) to California in 2013. It was discontinued in North America in 2019. A new 500e came to Europe in 2022, but it wasn’t until late in 2022 that the brand announced its 2024 500e would be sold here.

As far as the lessons it learned in California, Fiat says it knows the vehicle is desirable on more than just the West Coast.

“It led us to build an all-new variant from the ground up with the intention of going all EV globally. We also learned the previous generation made its way to other states, which demonstrated demand in those regions as well. The new Fiat 500e will be available in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico,” Ahmed said.

Experts agree Fiat makes sense where there are places to charge and most amenities are a few miles away, however, that will limit it sales in much of the country.

“The Fiat 500e will have the distinction of being one of the smallest cars on sale in North America, and that combined with its two-door body style and relatively short range will limit its appeal to certain types of EV shoppers. It’s an EV that is very European in its concept and execution with its handy easy-to-park size, cheeky styling, and modest performance and range,” Ed Kim, president and chief analyst at AutoPacific, told Newsweek.

“It’s an EV that was designed from the start as an electric urban city car, which may make it very relevant in markets like Los Angeles or New York City, but it may find itself without an audience in Peoria.”

The two-door 500e is the first battery-electric vehicle (BEV) from Stellantis in the U.S. It will be the lightest passenger EV in the market and carry an all-electric range of 149 miles.

Its 42-KWh battery can recharge in just over four hours on a Level 2 wall box charger, which is included with the price of purchase if the buyer chooses. They can also opt for on-the-go charging credits.

On a DC fast charger, it can regain 31 miles in five minutes under ideal charging conditions, enough for an average day of driving. The electric motor delivers 118 horsepower (hp) and 162 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque, reaching zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.

The original 500e made slightly less than that, 111 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque, and had a range of just 87 miles on a charge.

However, like all EVs, it will be competing against Tesla and its $40,630 (including destination and handling but before tax incentives) Model 3. The base model has an exceptional range of 272 miles and it delivers 271 hp.

“The 500e going to face the same headwinds as any other EV right now on the market — affordability and range anxiety — which our Autolist surveys have found to be consumers’ top concerns for years. The 500e’s sticker price isn’t much lower than the revised Tesla Model 3 that has considerably more range, David Undercoffler, editor-in-chief of Autolist told Newsweek.

“While the 500e’s 149-mile range may suit urban drivers and those with access to a robust charging network, that’s still too low to calm the nerves of many new EV shoppers…and the lack of ultra-fast charging doesn’t help.”

Fiat didn’t name competitors for the quirky 500e, saying that it may replace an SUV or be added to a family’s lineup to simplify quick trips in and out of the city. However the 2024 Mini Cooper SE would be an obvious choice. It has a 181-horsepower electric motor and a range of about 114 miles. It can get to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and can regain 80 percent of its battery in 36 minutes when plugged in to a DC fast charger.

The Mini Cooper SE and 500e starting prices are close, $30,900 and $32,500, respectively. Neither of the vehicles are eligible for the EV tax credit when purchasing as neither are built here and neither have their batteries assembled here. However, when leasing, buyers will be able to get the full $7,500 tax credit on either.

Both vehicles are counting on America falling back in love with small cars. They do make sense considering the efficiency of a subcompact EV, and the fact that most of the time people are driving alone, more than 75 percent during a commute.