You Can Lease This Electric Car For Virtually Nothing

Illustration for article titled You Can Lease This Electric Car For Virtually Nothing

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, 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 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 and be sure to include your Kinja handle.

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I am one of the guys that got in on the lease deal. It started in the Bay Area and now there are 2 dealerships in SD that will do the same deal, as well as 1 in Glendale (LA area). We are def in the 100 mark or so for the biggest group car buy ever!

Some things to be aware of. The interest rate for financing the lease amount is a mere .3%, this is one of the reasons the lease is so cheap. The other being that the incentives/rebates lower the purchase price of the car so much (you are effectively financing the difference between the purchase price and the residual value set by the leasing company, in this case Chrysler Financial). I ended up putting $2500 down, and will be receiving a check back from the government for the same amount, so its really $0 down (but I got $2500 CC points for it, since they let me put the charge on my VISA). Then I am at $106.50 / month. If I had ANY other lease car then I would have gotten an additional $1000 off the purchase price which would have been an extra $27.77 off per month, dropping me below $80/month. This price varies depending upon what your local sales tax rate is (You have to pay tax on the amount you finance after all).

I created an Excel Spreadsheet anyone can feel free to download and play with. Fill in the areas in yellow, it will compute fairly accurately how much the Fiat 500e will cost you, how much you will save in gas, and what the "effective" monthly/yearly cost is (i.e. the REAL cost might be $2000 per year, but if you are saving $1999/year in gas then the effective cost is $1).…

In addition there are some other things to be aware of that make this deal even more attractive; 1) You get 12 days of free car rentals per year from alamo/national/enterprise ANYWHERE in the US. Actually you get 500 credits, which equates to $500.
2) I didn't factor in the lack of maintenance into my calculator, I change my oil in my M3 every 5k miles, and its about $100, so if I drive 25,000 in 3 years with the 500e that saves me an additional $500.
3) You are illegible for HOV/Carpool lane stickers since its a full EV.
4) My M3 (being an older e36) requires on average $500 / year of misc. maintenance, its a bit imprecise, but I am imaging that will go down as I drop my yearly mileage on it from 12,000 to 2,500.

If anybody has any other questions feel free to ask away. Our group of track/race junkies has sussed out about every aspect of these cars at this point, the quirks, charger options, etc.