Fiat Millecento EV review: Future Past
Being the mechanical nut that I am, getting grease under my fingernails has never bothered me, and I have never been bored of looking in the engine bay of a car. It’s something that gives me peace, and I think that’s also why I like to drive old cars whenever the opportunity presents itself. These are very mechanical and sometimes excellent engineering examples, while modern cars are infested with sensors, actuators, and endless mazes of looms. Old machines, if properly maintained, will continue to serve for ages, and there are many examples that continue to amaze us, despite being surrounded by modern, faster and more efficient automobiles.
Every time you open the door and step into the cockpit of an old car, there is always a distinct smell that takes you back to the time that car belongs to. As you continue to breathe in the scent, you turn the ignition on and wait for the oil lamp to go out before turning the key further to crank the engine. A well-tuned engine starts right away, barely taking time to idle. If you think I’m referring to the two-tone Fiat Millecento in these pictures, well, while I’d like to say yes, this one plays out in a very different way.
The “E” in the “E-Diggi” sticker on the suicide doors is a strong clue as to what powers this old timer. In case you haven’t guessed it, this Millecento aka the E-Diggi is a resto-mod commissioned by Ravin Mirchandani, the president of Ador Digitron, an Indo-German company based in Pune and specializing in the production of batteries. and DC fast charging. stations for electric vehicles, in addition to other applications. The E-Diggi is a Millecento on the outside but an EV on the inside; It’s the company’s welcome mascot car for guests visiting the factory, and it breaks the ice better than the world’s Konas and Nexon electric vehicles.
Now you might be curious about how this electrified Millecento should drive, but before that you should know how it handles mobility. If you’ve watched enough sci-fi movies, the view under the hood is somewhat relatable. Instead of the space usually occupied by an internal combustion engine, there is a black control box that sits above the concealed 21 kW electric motor, with a bunch of thick cables connecting them. There is nothing mechanical except the steering mechanism and the parts of the suspension system that are visible. Even the trunk, where one would usually expect a spare tire, is replaced by a large black metal box that houses the 10 kWh battery, accompanied by a control unit that has a charging socket and a main switch on the side.
The interior of the E-Diggi, on the other hand, looks as authentic as one might expect. Everything from the dials to the inoperative column-mounted shifter to the clutch pedal has been preserved. The bench seat is beautifully upholstered in white and green, matching the white steering wheel and exterior. The only addition here is a small digital gauge that shows battery voltage, and it’s accompanied by a little bar below that shows battery charge. This Millecento is probably the only one of its kind to exist, and that’s exactly what shaped the driving experience.
To get started, all you need to do is flip a switch to turn on the E-Diggi, followed by a toggle switch to go forward or backward. This is how it is simple. A conscious hit of the accelerator and the E-Diggi kicks off in complete silence. As I tried to recreate the sound of a heat engine in my head, I quickly realized that it was not good. The soft but clearly audible whine of the electric motor was far too prevalent. And since the Millecento looks like a vintage car, other road users noticed its presence and were patient enough to let us pass most of the time – which never normally happens in Pune. As I approached a clear stretch of road, I pushed the pedal to the ground. And to my surprise, it picked up speed at a pretty fast pace; top speed is electronically limited to 70-80 km / h, but the speed at which it achieves this is very similar to modern small cars, if not a little faster. A Millecento or any old car in today’s conditions is best driven with ease, one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the windowsill. The same happened here too, and I never forgot that I was driving the streets of Pune in a Millecento with no tailpipe or exhaust note.
The experience was truly unique and peaceful, and I began to think of the Sunday morning commutes with it. There was no power steering or vacuum brakes here, but that wasn’t a problem as the engine bay components weighed much less than normal. Everywhere I went, the E-Diggi would catch dozens of eyeballs. The old people I passed were probably wondering how this Fiat was so quiet. After a while my attention was drawn to the battery display, which was approaching the last bar. Worried about running out of charge, I returned to the factory. Call it throttle management if you like, but even with a blinking light indicating a low battery, I came back with some juice left in the tank… uh, sorry, cells.
As I flipped the E-Diggi into the slot for the charging stations, I wondered how pleasant the ride had turned out, even if it was short. Not to mention that the idea of reviving old cars with electricity is a beautiful idea, which deserves to be explored and popularized. I haven’t driven a modern electric car yet, and while I’m sure they’re fast and all, the experience of driving a car from the past with an electric transmission will always be a special memory. Wouldn’t it be cool if the cars of the future looked at least like the cars of the past?
We would like to thank Ravin Mirchandani and the E-Diggi team for allowing us to try out this fun machine. If you’ve got an old car that you want to go electric, well, you know who to talk to!