While the Chrysler-Fiat alliance may have been dragged kicking and screaming into making an electric car, the Fiat 500E has been well-received by critics and customers alike. In fact, the limited numbers of the Fiat 500E are already sold out in California, despite reports that dealers are playing fast-and-loose with the attractive $199 lease deal.
Competitively priced at $32,500 before tax credits, that real selling point of the Fiat 500E was the $199 per month lease offer, with $999 down. But that deal comes with a catch. It requires dealer participation though, which includes a $1,500 incentive Fiat gives to dealers for every 500E they sell or lease. As the fine print points out (emphasis mine);
“For well qualified lessees based on MSRP example of $32,600 with a P24 package after all applicable offers. Total due at lease signing includes a down payment and first month’s payment. Offer requires dealer contribution. Tax, title and license extra. Lessee pays for excess wear and mileage of $.25 /mile for each mile over 12,000 miles per year plus a $395 disposition fee if vehicle is returned at end of term. Option to buy at lease end at pre-negotiated price. Dealer’s actual terms may vary. Offer through Chrysler Capital. Residency restrictions apply. See dealer for details. Must take retail delivery 07/31/2013.”
Plug-in Cars reports that the main problem here is that the dealers are pocketing that $1,500, leading to lease prices that are $264 per month or higher. Indignant customers are told to pay the higher lease price (which works out to an extra $2,340 over the 36-month lease) or step out of line, as there are other customers willing to take their place. Offered with 87 miles of driving range and use of a free rental car for longer trips, people are clamoring to buy the few Fiat 500Es that are being offered. With demand outstripping supply, greedy dealers are getting top dollar.
Despite its popularity, Fiat has no plans to increase 500E production, meaning potential buyers may have a long time to wait for a deal they can’t actually get. No wonder Elon Musk is trying to work around the dealership franchise model.
Source: Plug-in Cars