Fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in Italy for breaking the law

Fiat's Topolino is without question the cutest new car of 2024.

The diminutive electric vehicle's tiny dimensions, retro-inspired styling and unique shower feature (yes, it really has a shower attachment) has unsurprisingly won over plenty of admirers.

But the Italian authorities aren't a fan.

That's because it has breached a domestic law, which has seen 134 examples of the dinky EV reprimanded at a port with police seizing the cars until the manufacturer makes a major change to each one.

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

The cute car that's just been banged up: Fiat's new Topolino has upset authorities in its home country. As such, all new versions arriving in Italy have been seized until a major change is made...

Fiat isn't being allowed to deliver the electric city car to customers in its home country, despite the fact the vehicles are ready to be transported to them.

The adorable EV is the sister model to the Citroen Ami, which is has been on sale in Britain since 2022 and costs from £7,695.

At just 2.53 metres long, your bathtub is likely bigger than this Fiat.

The top speed is just 28mph and range between charges is claimed to be 'up to 47 miles' - though our real-world test of the Citroen last year suggests the battery charge will likely deplete quicker than the official figures suggest.

It is fitted with a very compact 5.4kWh lithium-ion battery and single 6kW electric motor, which explains why the performance is so pedestrian by car standards.

But that's because it's not a car. Instead, it qualifies as a 'light quadricycle'.

Due to this categorisation, in some European countries like France, the minimum age to get behind the wheel of one is just 14. In the UK, people as young as 16 can legally drive one if they have an 'AM' moped licence.

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

The adorable little machine features retro looks including oval headlamps, dish-style wheel trims and even a suitcase rack at the rear, harking back to the iconic Cinquecento classic that was first launched in 1957. But it has landed in hot water back home in Italy

But its oddball definition isn't why the Guardia di Finanza (Italy's financial police) and customs agency have reprimanded over 100 examples at the Livorno port city in Tuscany.

Instead, it's because it sports an Italian 'tricolore' flag on its doors, which breaches Italian law.

This is because the Topolino is not made in Italy.

The vehicle is instead produced at the Kenitra plant in Morocco, where the Ami and Opel Rocks Electric sister vehicles are also built.

An Italian law introduced in 2003 forbids Fiat - and any other Italian brand - from using the nation's flag on products made outside the country.

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Italian authorities say the Topolino breaches a rule that does not allow products made outside of the country to sport the national flag. It means this tiny sticker on the door panel needs to be removed before cars can be delivered to Italian customers

The rule stipulates: 'The import and export for the purpose of commercialization or the marketing or commission of acts directed unambiguously to the marketing of products bearing false or misleading indications of provenance or origin constitutes a crime and is punishable under Article 517 of the Penal Code.

'It constitutes a false indication to stamp 'made in Italy' on products and goods not originating in Italy within the accordance with European regulations on origin.

'It constitutes a fallacious indication, even if the origin and provenance are indicated as foreign origin of the products or goods.

'The offender is punished with an administrative fine from €10,000 to €250,000.'

In order to deliver its cars to customers, Fiat has been given no choice but to strip all 134 Topolinos - and those that follow them in the country- of the flags.

A spokesperson for Fiat's parent company Stellantis told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that it has 'operated in full compliance with the regulations' by openly communicating that the car is not made in Italy but has been designed in Turin.

It isn't the first time in recent weeks that an Italian car maker has found itself in hot water for breaking domestic rules.

Back in April, Alfa Romeo also had a monumental falling out with Italian authorities over the name of its new electric SUV, due to be called the 'Milano'.

This is because it is built in Poland - the first time any Alfa Romeo has been produced outside its home nation's border.

Shortly after it was unveiled that month, the Minister for Business quickly pointed out that it legally cannot carry a name linked to an Italian city if it is produced outside the country.

Instead, Alfa has hurriedly been forced to change its name to 'Junior', which fortunately also has heritage with the brand.

With Fiat producing the original Topolino between 1936 and 1955, it is surprising that the authorities haven't also questioned its name - which translates to 'baby mouse' - given it has direct links back to Italian history.

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

The Topolino was one of the smallest cars in the world during its production run between 1936 and 1955

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

The Topolino is an electric quadricycle said to be aimed at younger drivers. It will arrive in the UK later this year - here's what you need to know...

Here's what you need to know about the Fiat Topolino

Good news for Britons is that Topolino will be arriving in the this year.

Fiat has confirmed there will be two variants sold to customers.

The first is a standard 'closed' Topolino, which has a fixed roof and a pair of doors with 'wooden-effect stickers' on the inside panels. This will be the cheaper version and will likely start from just under £8,000 when it arrives in the UK later this year.

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Two versions will be sold - a standard Topolino and an 'open' Topolino Dolce Vita with a sunroof and no doors (pictured)

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Prices are yet to be confirmed for the UK market but should start at a little over £8,000 for the cheapest version that comes with doors

Meanwhile, the second option called Topolino Dolce Vita has no doors at all - though it does come with 'door rope', not that this provides any practical or safety benefits whatsoever.

With no door panels to feature an Italian flag, this variant should - in theory - escape the clutches of the Italian authorities.

The doorless design is a nod to the classic Fiat 500 Jolly, which was aimed at sun-worshiping beach types of the generation.

Both versions are equipped with vintage chrome effect wing mirrors, delightful oval headlamps and dish-style wheel trims.

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Incredibly, the Topolino has an optional shower attachment for owners to rinse off after a hot day at the beach

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law
fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Customers can also order an audio speaker that slots into one of the cup holders to allow passengers to  sync playlists from their phone

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

The cabin controls are fairly basic, with a gear selector down to the left-hand-side of the driver's seat and one stalk to control the indicators and single windscreen wiper. The version with doors has fabric handles

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Among the features is a pair of removable seat covers that can be rolled and stored on top of the dashboard or removed to double as beach towels for when you want to roll up to the seaside

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Another option is an additional 'rack bag' - a matching suitcase that slots into a metal carrier fixed below the rear windscreen for more luggage possibilities

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

Suitcase and hamper racks have always been a common addition among owners of the classic Fiat 500, as seen fitted to this early example

Among the options list is a 'rack bag' - a matching suitcase that slots into a metal carrier fixed below the rear windscreen for more luggage possibilities.

And you will likely need it, as there is just 63 litres of 'storage space' inside the Topolino - and by storage space we mean anything inside that's not occupied by seats and passengers.

Inside, the Topolino EV is relatively sparse with little in terms of creature comforts.

The cabin is primarily easy-to-clean plastic, the seats have very limited cushioning and there is almost nothing in terms of sound-proofing.

That said, Fiat will offer a catalogue of options, which includes a USB-powered dashboard fan for - somewhat limited - cooling and audio speaker you can sync to your smartphone to play music on the go.

And to make sure it ticks all the boxes for a Riviera-friendly vehicle, it even with an optional shower to allow owners and their passenger to rinse off the salty seawater after a long day at the beach.

We imagine this feature won't be popular among Britons come off beaches in Southend and Cromer, though...

Fiat Topolino: Will it fit in my garage? 

fiat's cute new electric car has been reprimanded in italy for breaking the law

On sale: from 2024

Price: TBC (likely above £8,095)

Doors: 2 with standard Topolino; 0 with Topolino Dolce Vita

Seats: 2

DIMENSIONS

Length: 2,535mm Width: 1,400mm Height: 1,530mm

Wheelbase: 1,730mm

Kerb weight: 562kg

Maximum storage capacity: 63 litres

POWERTRAIN

Battery: 5.4kWh lithium-ion

Electric motor: 6kW Permanent Magnet e-motor

Gearbox: Single-speed

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 28mph

Acceleration 0-28mph: 10 seconds

Range: 'up to' 47 miles

Charging time: 4 hours

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