The Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda have become the first electrified models in the Fiat line-up, ahead of the electric 500e arriving later this year.

The pair of updated city cars, due to launch in February and March respectively, use a mild hybrid powertrain that Fiat claims reduces CO2 emissions by up to 30%.

Replacing the 1.2-litre engine, the new setup comprises a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, a 12-volt belt-driven electric motor and a lithium ion battery. It produces 69bhp and 69lb ft of torque.

The belt-integrated starter motor system is mounted on the engine and recovers energy during braking and deceleration, which is then used to restart the engine in stop/start mode and to assist acceleration. It also allows the engine to switch off by shifting the gearbox into neutral at speeds below 18mph.

The models use a six-speed manual gearbox that’s “aimed at improving fuel economy in out-of-town driving” and lowers the power unit by 45mm. Fiat says this allows the cars to “behave better on the road, thanks to the lower centre of gravity”.

The arrival of the mild hybrid 500 and Panda will begin with Launch Edition models. These feature an ‘H’ logo, green paint and Seaqual recycled plastic upholstery, of which 90% originates from land and 10% from the sea.

Fiat has been slow to adopt electrification but plans to bounce back this year with the 500e. The plan is to continue selling the existing 500 – which was launched 13 years ago – alongside it.

Other Fiat models on the way include the 500 Giardiniera estate, a new 500X compact SUV and a Tipo replacement that’s likely to be an SUV.