Fiat will reward efficient drivers of the New 500 with KiriCoin, which can be exchanged for vouchers on Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Spotify, and other outlets.
Digital currency rewards will be calculated by Uconnect, which can analyze efficient driving and produce a score on a scale.
The New Fiat 500 is an electric hatch that launched in 2020 but is not available in the US, despite an increase in EV adoption.
We certainly expected to see digital currency appear in the EV world at some point, such as for purchasing Teslas or paying for EV charging. Now there'll also be a way for drivers to earn digital currency simply by driving, and it won't involve CPU-hogging cryptocurrency mining.
Fiat parent company Stellantis has rolled out a program that will reward eco-minded drivers of its New 500 with KiriCoin, which will be exchangeable for vouchers on Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Spotify, and other services.
So yes, this will essentially be—wait for it—Fiat money.
KiriCoin is a digital currency that was founded in 2020 and is used in 13 European countries. Under this program, drivers of the New 500 EV will get one KiriCoin for approximately each kilometer driven, but drivers with the highest eco:Score calculated via the car's Uconnect infotainment system based on efficiency and energy usage will also get extra rewards based on their driving style.
Fiat says that 10,000 kilometers (or 6,214 miles) driven, at a minimum, will get drivers the equivalent of about €150 a year, or about $179, that can be spent on vouchers.
"We want to support our customers' environmentally friendly behaviors and reward them with exclusive benefits," said Gabriele Catacchio, Stellantis e-Mobility program manager. "Simply by driving the New 500, connected and equipped with the new infotainment system, KiriCoins can be collected in a 'virtual' wallet shown in the Fiat app. Driving data, such as distance and speed, is uploaded to the Kiri cloud and automatically converted into KiriCoins, using an algorithm devised by Kiri. The result is downloaded directly to the user's smartphone and the KiriCoins can then be used to purchase products and services in the Kiri marketplace."
Of course, to qualify for the program you first need a New 500, and for the moment this EV is not available in North America. You also need to live in an EU country where this program is offered by Fiat and KiriCoin.
As a concept, rewarding safe and economical drivers with digital currency is certainly innovative, since the brand's Uconnect system already analyzes driver efficiency. The ability of drivers to collect coins provides an incentive to buy a particular car, too, and once an automaker can partner with a digital currency like KiriCoin, setting up a rewards program with vendor partners that offer goods or services, like EV charging or streaming movies, is a natural next step.
Fiat's move to partner with a green-minded cryptocurrency and link it to eco-friendly driving behavior in an EV, in exchange for rewards, is one of the first instances of bringing digital currencies to the car world, and will likely only expand in the coming decade as automakers push to become digital companies. We expect to see digital currencies increasingly adopted by automakers in exchange for EV charging points; cryptocurrencies like KiriCoin will take it one step further by allowing a third-party coin to be generated by the act of driving itself, and to be spent at outside outlets not connected to the EV world itself.
"Talent Garden is a melting pot of new ideas, the realm of high-tech and digital professionals," Cristiano Fiorio, head of marketing communications at Stellantis Europe, said. "This is where the e-Mobility journey through innovation began and where we discovered Kiri Technologies, that grasped our attention with a very simple, innovative idea: to reward the behaviors of people who respect the environment. Combining this idea with the features of the New 500, our flagship of technological innovation and electric mobility, came naturally to us."
Of course, it would be nice to just get the electric 500 here first, even without any digital currency to sweeten the deal. The electric hatch is out in Europe but is not headed here anytime soon, thanks to our market's disdain for small hatchbacks. Shame, too, as we have plenty of Fiat dealerships hungry for new models to sell.
Should Fiat offer the electric 500 stateside, or is it too small for North American consumer tastes? Let us know in the comments below.