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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.