Leasing might get a bad rap among some folks, but when an all-electric Fiat leases so cheap the fuel savings neutralize your lease payments, that’s a tough deal to pass up. A bunch of California racers recently took advantage of this offer and snatched more than 80 Fiat 500e models in a single weekend.

According to GreenCarReports.com, Joe Nuxoll, a freelance photographer, racing instructor, and contributor to High Gear Media, leased a grey 500e for 10,000 miles a year with $1000 down for $82.75 per month for 36 months. Word spread fast among the racing community and created a “feeding frenzy” for the little electric hatchback. Three San Francisco Bay area dealerships leased 80 500e models in one weekend. By the time the offer expires at the end of month over 100 cars will most likely find customers.

So how did they get it so cheap? Like I have mentioned before, the bulk of your lease payments are the difference between the sale price of the car and the residual value. The 500e has an MSRP of about $32,000. At the end of a 36 month lease, the residual value is $13,100. Now factor discounts such as a a Federal Tax Credit of $7500, FCA limited time promotion of $2100, California State Tax Rebate of $2500, and a Fiat lease conquest incentive of $1000 and your payments would be around $83/mo with no money down.


So $83/mo isn’t exactly free, but think about it this way: A gas powered 500 gets about 35 MPG combined. If you purchased or leased one of those and drove 1000 miles per month you would spend around $100/mo on gas given the average cost of regular fuel in California at $3.50/gal. That fuel cost is on top of whatever lease or loan payments you are making. With the 500e lease you are only paying that $83/mo; when you factor in the fuel savings...it is practically free.

There are a few catches. First, in order to have that zero down you would have to be leasing another vehicle. You aren’t paying for gas, but you are still paying for the electricity to charge it up. If you don’t have solar power at your residence and you can’t mooch off all the free charging stations in California, you still have some energy cost. However, if it costs you less than $15/mo to charge up the Fiat, you are still ahead of the game.


Also, the 500e has a limited electric range of only 80 miles, so this might not be the best car if you need it for long distances. But as a secondary car or for drivers with a short commute, it is an incredible value. Finally, this particular combination of discounts are only available to California residents. Also, California car buyers that take advantage of it get something even more desirable than a cheap lease....HOV access.

If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.