Golden State is the only state
Fiat today announced the availability of the 500e in California this summer. Priced at $32,500, the 500e will come with favorable lease terms of $999 down and $199 per month for 36 months. No word on how long this initial lease program will be available. Each lease includes 12 rental days of alternative transportation each year for the first three years for those times when the range of an electric vehicle (EV) is not enough. Gasoline powered rental vehicles are provided through car rental companies associated with the program.
The 500e’s driving range is placed by the EPA at 87 miles. This is three miles greater than the 100 percent charge range of Nissan’s LEAF. Interestingly, the EPA still has not placed the 2013 LEAF on their fueleconomy.gov website. Nissan places a range of 75 miles on the 2013 LEAF Monroney (window) sticker, but that range is based on a non-standard charge. The LEAF offers the ability to charge to 100 percent (84 mile range) or 80 percent (66 mile range) according the the EPA’s own testing, so the EPA decided to blend the two, which makes no sense to us. Perhaps this is why they are reluctant to publish it on their website.
The Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 500e is $32,500 including destination charge. This comes in between that of the Nissan LEAF S model ($29,650 including destination charge) and the SV model ($32,670 including destination charge). The 500e lease, though, compares with that of the S model LEAF. The SV lease rate is currently $249 per month for a 36 month term in select markets. Nissan’s lease requires a larger down payment on both models though – $1,999 compared to Fiat’s $999. It seems that Fiat wants to put some pressure on the current EV leader.
While Nissan’s S model LEAF has no navigation system, the Fiat 500e includes a dockable portable hand held navigation system that installs atop the dash. While not an ideal solution, it is integrated with the cars electronics to provide visual range on the display and charge station locations. Keep in mind, though, that this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. The 500e only offers two passenger doors, and seating for four as long as the two in the back are not very tall. While the LEAF can shuttle a family around, or four adults comfortably, the 500e isn’t really designed for that.
The 500e will be available at all California Fiat locations, but with limited availability. There will be two specialty centers with greater inventory, and more highly trained staff, likely one in Northern California and one in Southern California.