The Bono-approved Fiat 500 (RED) edition is here

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One could argue that the third generation of 500, which was released this summer and is all-electric, is also a symbol of rebirth and recovery in the age of climate crisis and Covid-19.

The past century was spent establishing Fiat as intrinsic to Italian glamour and prosperity. But now it’s shifting gears. Like growing numbers of Fortune 500 corporations, its parent company Stellantis is channelling a new consumer focus on the environment, sustainability, health and other humanity-affecting issues.

With the all-new 500, Fiat boasts the sexiest small EV on the market; one which is packed with recycled materials. A reflection of Fiat’s new eco-mindset is the 40,000 flora and fauna it has planted on the Lingotto rooftop, which now makes for some tight and challenging chicanes. This is officially the longest hanging garden in Europe, something the founder’s sartorial son Gianni Agnelli (1921-2003) would have been proud of. “He loved automobiles, art and nature,” his granddaughter Ginevra Elkann tells GQ. “He loved the mountains and his gardens. He loved beauty in general.” Given his dalliances with Rita Hayworth, Anita Ekberg and Jackie Kennedy, there’s no doubt of that. Life magazine described him once as having “the sculptured bearing of an exquisitely tailored Julius Caesar.”

The Bonoapproved Fiat 500  edition is here

The sky park – called La Pista 500 – has spaces designed for sculpture, fitness, meditation and yoga, and will be free and accessible to anyone who wants to come and smell the flowers and enjoy the view. As Fiat chief executive Olivier François says, “It’s only green when it’s green for everyone.” Pointing out the contrast between the century that separates the structure and the reimagined space, the CEO claims this is of symbolic value. “This is a place that, a hundred years ago, was by definition a home of pollution, with a test track that was once secret and inaccessible. It’s now a garden that is open to all the people of Turin. Our goal is not only to market cars; our new journey is also about care and attention to climate, community and culture.”

In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small gesture but one Ms Elkann (who chaired the project) claims is indicative of “a more conscious, more inclusive, more sustainable future and a constant dialogue between art and the environment. It’s a new way of looking at the world.”

Putting that in concrete terms – not just the concrete of Lingotto’s imposing edifice – Fiat wants to sell cars that will help save the planet and sort other urgent global problems. Enter (RED), the ethical capitalism movement co-founded by U2 frontman Bono in 2006 that partners with big business to raise funds to combat health injustices. Originally, the focus was AIDS in Africa, and it has expanded to tackle another pandemic – Covid-19 – by helping to get vaccines, therapeutics and PPE to those in the world’s poorest countries. (RED) has raised nearly $700m in funds – money which has directly helped 220 million people – but Covid-19 threatens years-worth of progress in the fight against AIDS. Fiat is joined in the partnership by Jeep and Ram in the US, which are also part of the Stellantis group. These three brands will deliver a minimum of $4m to (RED)’s Global Fund over three years. Other (RED) partners include Apple, Bank of America, Starbucks and Amazon. Until now, (RED) had never collaborated with a car company.

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