Fiat recently debuted hybrid versions of the Panda city car and 500 supermini in Europe. But the biggest news is Fiat’s new Mopar D-Fence package, which is exclusively offered to both the Panda and 500 hybrids. This innovative sanitizing package includes an air filter, air purifier, and ultraviolet light to kill germs, viruses, and contaminants inside the cabin.
Fiat’s D-Fence package is developed by Mopar, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As the entire planet gradually returns to the new normal, having a built-in sanitizing system in your vehicle is way better (and less harmful to materials) than dousing cabin surfaces with alcohol or bleach. And even though UV light itself is not proven to eliminate COVD-19 from both hard and soft surfaces, ultraviolet light is effective in destroying germs, bacterium, and other coronaviruses like SARS.
The D-Fence package starts by filtering the air before entering the vehicle’s HVAC system. Next, the air purifier works in combination with the air filter to further rid the in-cabin air of bacteria, germs, and pollen. Finally, the ultraviolet light is designed to sanitize the seats, shift knob, and steering wheel. This 1-2-3 punch may not totally eradicate an airborne virus like COVID-19, but it provides the first line of defense to protect the driver and passengers from viral and bacterial contamination.
Sadly, Fiat pulled the plug for the 500 (and all-electric 500e) in North America last year, and the company is selling off all remaining inventory until the end of 2020. Instead of having a feisty yet thirsty 1.4-liter turbocharged four-banger, both the Euro-spec 500 and Panda hybrids are motivated by a naturally-aspirated 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder engine. Meanwhile, the mild-hybrid system consists of a belt-start generator and a lithium-ion battery running via a 12-volt electrical system.
According to Fiat, mild hybrid models emit 30-percent fewer carbon dioxides than a gasoline-only powertrain. It also allows the vehicles to ‘sail’ or coast with the engine off to save fuel. The new Fiat 500 and Panda hybrid with the D-Fence package has base prices starting at €9,820 ($10,878) and €10,714 (approx. $11,868), respectively.