First Fiat 500e Now Being Delivered, Many Customers Not Happy

JUL 29 2013 BY JAY COLE 27

A "Sexy" Package And A $199 Lease Offer Made The Fiat 500e An Almost Instant Sell-Out

A “Sexy” Package And A $199 Lease Offer Made The Fiat 500e An Almost Instant Sell-Out

Lets start with the good news – the first Fiat 500e deliveries are happening on time and without a hitch.  The first of which took place around the 15th of this month.

The second bit of goods news is that the car is living up to expectations, and for many EV enthusiasts, Fiat has solved the puzzle of how to make a compact plug-in look good.  In general, most (if not all) reviews are very positive.

But most importantly of all, the price of $32,500 or $199/month has made the car a virtual sell-out for 2013.

/good news ends here

Hover Over The Lease Offer To See The Fine Print Bad News

Hover Over The Lease Offer To See The Fine Print Bad News

Apparently, anxious customers who arrive at their local California Fiat dealers to pick up their new Fiat 500e and anticipating the $199 lease they put a deposit down on are getting a bit of a shock.  Some customers are reporting counter-lease offers of more than $300.

Much like when the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF first hit the market, dealers do not seem inclined to offer the manufacturers advertised rate.  In some cases price premiums and deliveries with extra options are being reported.

Upset customers are being directed to take a closer look at Fiat’s $199 lease fine print (like when you hover over the $199 advertisement on Fiat’s 500e main page), where you will find some extraordinary text further complicating the process on buying the red-hot selling EV.

Where you might expect to find the normal disclaimer of “dealers may sell for less” or “dealer participation may vary,” we instead find:

“Offer requires dealer contribution…Dealers actual terms may vary”

Basically, Fiat is offering the dealers what looks to be about $1,500 in bonuses (lease cash) to sell the car, but is then turning around and also promoting a lease offer in which that money is clawed back in favor of the customer on the deal (at the dealership’s discretion).  And when you have a car as hot as the Fiat 500e, that makes the $199 deal seemingly almost impossible to get…unless you have the deal in writing when you put down your deposit.

While we understand how this practice generally works in other, less popular cars in the Fiat lineup. ie) you get the deal or you just go to another dealership – in this case, the lease-slight-of-hand is giving Fiat some bad press/vibes that they really don’t want from such a limited run, high profile offering.

Check out owner response at the Fiat 500 Owners club here.  Hint:  they aren’t too happy.

Categories: Fiat

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27 Comments on "First Fiat 500e Now Being Delivered, Many Customers Not Happy"

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I read complaints in forums about this. This is going to snowball for Fiat and dominate the brand perception unless Fiat steps in to remedy it fast.

I just got mine on thursday at the Berkeley dealership. They honored the published price and the car is great!

Simple, walk away from crooked Fiat ……. Go find yourself an honest GM dealer & buy a Volt and enjoy the extra room and practicality. 🙂

That’s one way NOT to lose $10,000 per car. (Their words, not mine.)

This further highlights how outmoded the dealership model is. This should give Tesla more ammunition.

I was thinking the very same thing Aaron. Sure there will be problems selling direct, but to think the consumer is somehow isolated from problems while dealing with a dealership is just whacked.


The no-dealerships sales method of Tesla is getting great help here – from the dealerships themselves! Tesla should use this example in court, since this is why Tesla cannot leave its sales to independent dealerships but has to do it themselves.

It is very important for a newcomer like Tesla to control the whole customer experience. Things like this ruin the customer experience and would ruin the brand. It’s not only the quality of the car that counts, it’s the total experience!

I figured this would happen since the fine print says that you have to have good credit, depends on dealer contribution blah blah blah.

I started the post to ask people to name dealers who ARE honoring the lease.. Vote with your feet and money people! Fiat is delivering cars as dealers move them.. Go to the reputable studios..

So far McKevitt Berkeley, Riverside FIAT, Kearney Mesa studios reportedly NOT gouging customers… I hope there are more dealers but no one speaking up so a) lots of people paid over because they really wanted the car (and maybe it was just only a little over) or b) not that many people on forums or inclined to pipe up.

I hope it’s more than a handful of reputable dealers! Yikes.

Everyone should expect to pay more for the options, but prorated correctly over the life of the lease, which is not the case.. FIAT guy, what’s his name that said the car is sold out better be monitoring this closely..

It’s also shows how smart Nissan was when they launched the Leaf: the customer reserved and then negotiate with dealerships to decide who got the easy sale.

GM took the normal route with the Volt so inventory got stuck at gouging dealers who overestimated demand.

Fiat have taken the normal route and potential customers get nasty surprises from gouging dealers.

Simple solution – the buyers ought to go over to their Chevy dealer and lease a Spark EV for $199/mo.

You know some dealers will gouge a little on the Spark EV too especially in low-volume markets.

Tried to get a Spark EV lease for the expected $999 down and $199 month. We were basically given the cold shoulder from the dealer and were treated like we insulted them for asking about that lease pricing. They only wanted to sell the Spark EV for an extra $5000 dealer mark up. Had to walk away.


Here in Norway have the Fiat 500E being on the roads from february this year 😀 the price here is 205 000 norwegian krown or 35.000 us dollar

$199 lease, “$999 total due at signing, no security deposit required”. Shoddy business practice of redefining common-english terms like “total due” , similar to “unlimited” data for broadband are not sustainable business practices.

Sounds like a bait and switch offer to me. Lawyers might have fun with a class action suit on this one. At the very least, a future hurtle to overcome when Fiat has volume of 500e’s to sell. A successful product is about the experience it creates. For the 500e, this is not a good first impression.

It’s not. FIAT can’t say stuff like $199 a month, except if you buy options, or if you live in any state, county or municipality with sales tax, or dealers that use their right to sell the cars for whatever they want them to. Seems every one forgets that a manufacturer setting retail price points is illegal restraint of trade, and that MSRP contains the word “suggested”. Sure it would be nice if all the dealers stepped up to offer the low price, but it would also be nice if everyone was polite and considerate. Nice goals but not likely to happen soon.

Of course, dealers will find a way to screw up a product launch like this. However, it’s a little naive for a buyer to put a deposit without a terms sheet. The last time I put a deposit on a car, I had the deal negotiated and on paper before I handed over the check.

Another good reason to support on-line sales!

Well, in California, the deposit is fully refundable, so no worries. Just the loss of use of the money while you had the deposit at the dealer. People should just vote with their feet and wallets, go to the dealers who are not charging over the original lease price (for the base model)… everyone knows you pay extra for the options or if you have worse credit… If this is truly a limited production run, then these cars may become collector items and maybe the jokes on the rest of us who don’t rush to get it and pay a bit or a lot more over the asking. But, the likelihood with the CARB mandate and all, is that FIAT will be making more of these or some variation thereof for the 2015-17 years.. and geez if Spark may go nationwide, why not 500e, they can spread the research and overhead over more cars.. are they really losing 10K per car or is that more a paper calculation based on some fixed overhead expenses… anyway, I’ll leave that to the smart finance/accounting guys. In the meantime, go to dealers who are honoring the original lease, they are still out there.… Read more »

Well said. I was able to get the 500e for for the right lease price on Saturday. I am really loving the car!!

the dealer in thousand oaks wanted $9,000 over sticker price so that would have been over $40,000 complete utter rip off

I agree that if people can be patient and go to the dealers that are honoring the deal, then prices will settle. Easy for me to say though, as I’m picking up today from McKevitt, Berkeley (very psyched!). So far, they’ve been great at mitigating surprises, and seemed to appreciate my pro-active approach to do so.

Keep in mind, you DO have to have excellent credit to get the lowest deal offered.

Good luck to those waiting!!

Join the growing 500e Google+ Community and make the most of your 500e!

And looks like quite a few other dealers able to honor orig lease deal per posts (assumes excellent credit)

shout out to Fremont Fiat, Kearney Mesa Fiat, Capital Fiat San Jose, maybe Riverside Fiat…

So it’s not as bad as this article now, perhaps more dealers are coming around, thanks to this bad publicity..

Find another dealer. When I got my Volt lease, I first went to a few other dealers that wanted a lot more for the lease. Then I found an advertisement that was a great deal, it seemed credible. I went to that dealer and there was no hidden cost. So shop around. Finding an ad makes the search easier.

This article is close to content free. Big surprise, cars that are popular command a premium from some dealers. Here’s why this isn’t news: Ford Boss 302. Went to dealer to pay cash to order a car. Took my name and auctioned off allocation to those willing to bid without even a test drive! Mini Clubman (2008) Local MINI dealer wanted $1500 extra even though it was our second MINI. Bought from another dealer at MSRP and advertised interest. 2002 Mini Copper S. LA wanted $6k over, Bay Area $2k over. Bought at MINI of Murray for MSRP, factory order, minimum wait (basically from order to build to delivery was about 8-10 weeks). This happens with every car that creates a buzz. Either the dealers raise the price to just sell to those that can afford, or they don’t and have huge waiting lists. We’ve had our 500e for almost a month. We pay about $20 a month above what the FIAT advertised rate was. True, it’s not $199, but it’s less than a Grande Frappichino a week different. What’s funny (in a sad way) is that because most don’t understand the franchise model well, they blame FIAT when it’s… Read more »

I also forgot the 2001 Acura MDX. Acura of Los Gatos, $2000 over MSRP. Acura of Cerritos (in So Cal), MSRP.

People , I feel screwed from the get go on this Fiat 500e deal. The manufacturer and dealers need to be on board the same deal before the manufacturer announces a deal with hidden language. The ‘authorized dealers’ are a virtual extension of a manufacturer when they feature the Fiat brand on their showroom building. It is unconscionable for either to claim they don’t know what the other is doing. This practice not only damages the Fiat brand but it also hurts EV marketing and its advancement in general. There are already enough roadblocks to get EVs commercialized, like power station infrastructure, consumer apprehensions about all-electric reliability, battery development, etc. Allowing a marketing conflict between the manufacturer and its dealers is inexcusable. I can lease the same model/color Fiat 500e from a local dealer 10 miles away at $4K down, no dealer incentive, $248./Mo., or at another dealer in CA 100 miles away for $999 down, $216./mo. Fiat, get your act together and it would help if the CEO was more credible with his claim of losing $10K per car. It would be more believable if he quoted a $9892. loss. I just don’t buy it. But in the end… Read more »
Got my 500E at Mossy Fiat in National City a few weeks ago. They wanted to charge me $249 /mo (tax included) on a white one, extra price for color being the only add on to base MSRP. I walked. 20 people behind me, they said. Of course they sold it. Then another white one came in a week later, and I got them down as far as $237 a month total payment, and decided to roll over for an extra $17 a month. They did not get my argument that I wanted to pay the same percentage for the color that I was paying to lease the car for 3 years. Instead I am paying full price for the color. I prefer white over the stock $199/mo colors. They offered me a black one at $199/mo, but I did not want black. The deposit to be on the waiting list was just $49, refundable. Kearny Mesa Fiat deposit was $500. Since I got the car I was approved and had installed a free aerovironment level 2 charger, which is a real coup. It makes up for the protracted leasing experience. My salesman is a nice young man, and he… Read more »