Prospective electric-vehicle drivers may have to do some California Dreamin' if they want to get a new EV in the Golden State because – surprise – people like EVs when they drop in price.

The Honda Fit EV and the Fiat 500e are among the plug-in models that have seen a jump in demand in California after lower monthly lease rates were announced, the Los Angeles Times reports. Honda has sold out of its lease-only California allocation after dropping its monthly lease rate late last month to $259. Honda initially set a $389 lease rate last year. Meanwhile, the yet-to-debut Fiat 500e has its own waiting list. Fiat announced its lease rates, which start at $199 a month, in April.

US plug-in vehicle sales through May jumped 75 percent from a year earlier to almost 24,000 vehicles, with Nissan Leaf sales almost tripling to more than 7,600 vehicles. And those plug-in sales numbers don't include the Tesla Model S, which sold 4,900 units during the first quarter but doesn't release monthly figures.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      Rotation
      • 1 Day Ago
      After "lower" lease rates were announced? For the 500e? It never had a lease rate before!
        Reggie
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Rotation
        Fiat 500e sales will be massive when it arrives. Honda the entire brand ALL car models combined i.e Accord - Civic - C-RV C-RZ Insight etc only made - 133,462 sales in Europe in 2012. Fiat 500 outsold the entire Honda brands line-up in Europe with 147,198 sales in 2012. 500e just make an ideal EV it will be very popular here in Europe.
          Spec
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Reggie
          At $199/month, I think they'll sell every Fiat 500e that they build unless they build them in very large numbers.
      EZEE
      • 1 Day Ago
      For all the naysayers, yes, there are many compliance cars, but as the article points out, the Leaf is up 75% in sales. For some people, the issue has been range, and for others, evidently it has been price. No, I would not get amped up about Ford or Honda selling 100 cars, but the Leaf is a microcosm in itself, and we can judge interest and buying willingness with the leaf itself. They have upped production and lowered the price and presto chango - increased sales. Yip yip yip yahoo. What what happens when the next gen Volt comes out. Also, if Ford, or anyone, can even match Nissan on an EV (price, range) we will see two viable cars. Not counting the 500 as I do not know the production capacity....
        Ray Blackburn
        • 1 Day Ago
        @EZEE
        The 500 looses 10k dollars on every one produced according to their brain surgeon CEO. However if they actually built them like other models to make a profit things would be different. If their intent was to build them for profit, like the gassers, instead of loss they will make profits.
          EZEE
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ray Blackburn
          @ray There are also things like 'good will' (a concrete business concept, not just touchy feely) and 'loss leaders' when thinking about this stuff. One thing Wal mart did to crush k mart was to sell cosmetics at a loss. They knew that the average guy walks into a store for a hammer, goes to hardware, and leaves with a hammer. Women tend to 'shop' when they go to the store. This got women into the store, and buying other things. They told their friends, and then they did the same thing. Just getting people into the store is a goal. The 500e will get people to look at them, and also create good will with the public. Think about how people talk about Ford not taking a bailout (yes, they took loans from the doe), or tesla paying off their loans early. Good will. Same thing on corporations sponsoring local school events....good will. People will buy stuff from companies they 'like'. Fiat's last attempt to get into the USA failed miserably due to quality issues. Fix it again tony. Make the company see, 'good' and people will show up.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ray Blackburn
          @ Ray Blackburn Fiat don't make a real profit on Fiat 500 EV's that's true, but nor does Nissan, Mitsubishi, Renault or Ford. GM barely recovers production costs on the Volt. It takes very deep pockets, and a lot of faith to manufacture EV's in volume. It's not a lack of willing, but the actual cost of manufacture. Armchair pundits have no idea of all the costs associated with vehicle production, especially low volume production. That's why all successful, small independent auto-makers concentrate on producing expensive models, where price isn't such an important factor. Just wishing something is true, and it being true are two different things. Claiming that any model is "profitable" because it attract some form or another of government subsidy, would be a very irresponsible attitude by a CEO. Those subsidies distort the true market, and may end with a change of government, or government policy. Tax incentives are very useful in assisting new technologies get started, and helping cover R&D costs, but they can't last forever. This doesn't matter so much at the luxury end of the market where these incentives may only contribute to 5-10% of purchase price, but incentives are very important to a vehicle like the Leaf where government incentives can contribute as much as 40%, especially with lease plans. I'm a supporter of government incentives, but for a CEO to build cars just to take advantage of Tax planning is a very undesirable practice.
          raktmn
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ray Blackburn
          His actual words were "Up To $10K", and given his anti-EV statements in the past, I'm reading that as somewhere between 0 and 10K, and since he doesn't want to share any real numbers, I'd guess that reality is lower than higher. But even at 10K of loss per sale, Fiat saves "Up To $15K" in ZEV credit penalties per car they sell, for a potential of a $5K net profit. Unlike Fiat's CEO, I will actually define what the "Up To" means when I say "Up To $15K". $15K is the maximum penalty Fiat would have to pay per ZEV credit if they did not sell each 500e. They could lower that cost, by purchasing ZEV credits from other companies on the free market if any are for sale by any company that is willing to sell ZEV credits to Fiat.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      I'm wondering if the car companies are going to have a change of heart & mind? Between Tesla becoming THE STORY in the automotive world and these little EVs selling like hotcakes when the lease is dropped down to $199/month, perhaps the car companies will realize that there is a real market here. People like nice simple elegant cars that have (almost) no maintenance, require no fill-ups, are quiet, clean, and can be filled up with PV panels on your roof.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Spec
        There is nothing, nothing, viable to a car company in producing battery electric cars for lease at $199/month. That would barely cover the car without a battery. The reason for that price is so that they can either hit compliance or shift cars. You guys want to take a holiday from wishful thinking.
          omni007
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Spec I don't think I got my point across. My point is, automakers typically don't want to mess around with projects that aren't insanely profitable. Trucks are insanely profitable. EVs right now are not. Even with the amazing subsidies, EVs in general are kind of 'meh' as far as what average people think they want/can afford, and auto makers are for the most part either losing money or barely breaking even on them (Tesla aside). Trouble is, the subsidies are going to run out. Middle management is already having a hard time justifying their electric projects. Heck, even Ghosn himself is having a hard time convincing his OWN company. What are they going to do when they suddenly have to cut the price $7500 just to keep it at the same out-the-door cost? I'm not saying EVs are bad. They're good. I'm not saying to stop making them. I like them a lot. I'm just telling you *why* the auto makers are being so stubborn about it. The stockholders are only concerned with short-term profits, and they demand the companies act in those interests. Even the law demands it to some degree. So they like to focus on stuff with 20 and 30 percent margins, like trucks and SUVs. It's retarded, but it's not changing in a meaningful way except with Tesla.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          "Luckily for EV automakers... they are capable of projecting into the future..." I'm relishing the irony dripping from this comment. It's an article in part about the Honda Fit EV, made by a company that has made strong projections about the viability of FCVs, which Joeviocoe refuses to accept. Thank goodness Honda is capable of projecting into the future, rather than heeding short-sighted arm chair analysts on some blog!
          omni007
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          Look at the lease prices for a 'normal' car similar to this. As an apples-to-apples comparison, Fit gas to Fit EV: Gasoline: $220/month, 0 down, 35 months EV: $259/month, 0 down, 36 months No one is even claiming that Honda is anywhere near breaking even on the EV yet. Someone else gave an optimistic price of "only" $8000 for a battery for a "light, aero" EV. The whole stupid drivetrain of a normal Fit costs less than that. So you can't say that it's somehow MORE profitable to lease an EV for LESS, when it clearly costs more at the moment. What's selling right now? Trucks. Why? Because gas prices are just a tiny bit down. Auto makers love trucks because they have enormous profit margins. Compact cars are very low-margin vehicles in comparison to trucks, so auto makers don't really like selling them as much. Now, I want an EV as much as the next guy (well, really I want one MORE than the next guy), but let's not pretend they're as insanely profitable as even low-margin compact cars. They're gonna push trucks, SUVs and minivans as hard as they can, as long as they can. While EVs are low-volume products, they're gonna lose money on them in that short-term. That's why they really hate them. That's why Musk and Ghosn are having such a hard time with them. They have to fight the whole system to get EVs started. Even if there is a 'tipping point' with typical buyers, EVs are going to cost more than gas cars for a long time, unless and until Dan-style cars like the VLC become the norm. That's the only way you can get the battery costs down while keeping long range. It's all about the money, boys. It's all about the money.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          " made by a company that has made strong projections about the viability of FCVs" Yeah... .because they've made how many FCVs available for sale?? You continuously have too much faith in TALK.. rather that looking at the more tangible indicators of "Strong Projections". Honda has NOT been projecting FCVs viability... they've been holding back until the infrastructure is built. And when 2015 comes and goes without an "INFRASTRUCTURE OF SUFFICIENT DENSITY"... Honda's commitment will be shown as paper thin as they cancel plans.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          Both consumers and automakers are asked to make sacrifices during the initial adoption of Electric Vehicles. Consumers get less mobility, automakers may have to take a hit in profits in the short term. From 2010 to 2015... these are the years of birthing pains for the EV revolution. So that the tech can be developed and refined, production volume can climb and costs can drop. And most importantly, infrastructure can be built so that EV adoption can get passed the early adopter plateau. ------------------------------------------ The "Viability" is about LONG Term planning and strategy. Luckily for EV automakers... they are capable of projecting into the future, MUCH better than short sighted, arm chair analysts on some blog.
          omni007
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          Disclaimer: I have been the happy owner of a Fit (gasoline) for over 5 years, and would happily upgrade to the EV version if I could reasonably do so.
          Spec
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          @omni007 I said 'around break even' which means probably losing money and you interpret that as 'insanely profitable'? And I pointed out that in addition to the $199/month (which is typical for a small car) they get the $7500 tax-credit which is around the price of a battery for a small econo-box. The point isn't that EVs are profitable market right now. But it is a market that consumers are interested in and it is growing. Growing pretty fast actually. And with inevitable rising gas prices and dropping battery prices, it is going to become a growing part of the automotive biz whether they like it or not. So they can suck it up and make a go at it or they can be left behind. Their choice.
          krona2k
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          "You guys want to take a holiday from wishful thinking." That's rich, don't forget to keep coming back here at the end of 2015.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          @krona2k said '"You guys want to take a holiday from wishful thinking." ( comment quoted) That's rich, don't forget to keep coming back here at the end of 2015.' You seem to have reading difficulty. I have said nothing about the viability of BEV cars in 2015, and simply commented on the present market and pricing.
          Spec
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          Look at this way . . . if you swap out ICE components and put in EV components except the battery, the car should be about the same price. And if the battery gets down to $300/KWH then you can put in a 24KWH battery for $300/KWH * 24KWH = $7200. So the tax credit covers the price of the battery. If you make the car light & aerodynamic then you can get away with a 20KWH battery as the Chevy Spark did. Even at $400/KWH (current price) that is only $8000 for the battery pack.
          Spec
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          Remember that they get a $7500 tax-credit in addition to the $199/month. Those two combined make the cars around break even. Just a bit more of drop in battery and EV component prices (which should come from mass manufacturing) and they'll be making a profit.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          By 'shifting cars' I mean clear their stock.
        krona2k
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Spec
        I feel you are right, there's a tipping point approaching. It's not that electric cars are not viable, they can replace many ICE cars with virtually no inconvenience to their owners. The point is that the economics have to be obviously compelling and that is becoming more the case quite rapidly now.
        JakeY
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Spec
        I think it shows that as long as the price point is low enough, even the shorter range EVs can have a market. I think there's it's been a long running argument that no amount of price decreases can ever make the shorter range EVs viable, but this shows it may not be the case.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @JakeY
          @ JakeY " If something is cheap enough, it will always find a market " Jake, that's true to certain extent. But producing an uneconomic product just to provide for a philosophic or Ideological purpose is something only governments can accomplish. Even governments can't accomplish this for long, before the electorate rebels. Range, charging times, and charging accessibility, and price are all very real challenges for EV economy models to overcome. Range and price go hand in hand.
      e
      • 1 Day Ago
      I literally ran to my local Honda dealership last friday when I read the article here about Honda dropping the lease payments to $260/mo. They had one available, and I filled out the paperwork, got approved, gave them my deposit and the car was mine. It still seems too good to be true. My commute is 60 miles roundtrip with a $5 toll every day. I will be saving close to $300 in gas alone and another $50 or so in tolls since I get to ride in the carpool lane (half-price tolls during commute hours). The charge they provide is roughly a $1000 savings and is yours to keep after the lease is over. PLUS, we still get the $2500 California CVRP rebate. If price of gas just stays the same ($4/gallon average here in the Bay Area), then over three years I'll have saved $12,600 in gas and tolls, and I'll only have had to pay $7,580 for the car ($280/mo lease minus $2500 CA rebate). The only expenses I'm missing are the auto liability insurance ($350/year) and the cost of charging, which is too early to tell. Plus the availability of free charging stations near my work and house are a huge plus right now.
        Rotation
        • 1 Day Ago
        @e
        You can actually get one at a dealership now? Sounds like Honda is really improving the program. When I tried to get one, you had to go through the website. Absolutely no way to do it at a dealer.
          e
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Rotation
          I quickly put my info into the online system before heading to the dealership. Once I got there, they really had no idea how to do it, as it was their first one. But yes, the dealerships have some say in who gets the car, as I was technically the 13th person on their "online" waiting list, but I was the first one to actually show up with cash in person and completed all the application requirements.
        • 1 Day Ago
        @e
        BTW, what was the cost for installation of the charger?
        • 1 Day Ago
        @e
        My story mirrors yours... but I won't actually take possession of the car for 2 weeks. I am #2 on my dealer's list, and he has assured me that they will be receiving more than 2 units. Can't wait!!
        e
        • 1 Day Ago
        @e
        Oh, and to clarify, I had to give them a $100 deposit and come back the next day to pick the car up. Been driving it all week, and the range anxiety is a little scary at first, but once you're used to how the battery reacts to your driving habits, the uneasy feeling goes away.
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Day Ago
        @e
        @ e Great to hear your satisfaction with your new EV. Sounds like you've nailed a pretty sweet deal ! California is certainly a great state to buy an EV, especially the growing availability of charging stations.
        e
        • 1 Day Ago
        @e
        Oops, typo. I meant to say that the "charger" they provide is $1000, and that's a huge savings if you're thinking about another EV like the Rav4 or the 500e, where you need to pay for the charger yourself.
      raktmn
      • 1 Day Ago
      Having tiny production numbers that seem to be based more on CARB ZEV credit concerns than anything else also has a lot to do with them selling out. Just sayin'....
        brotherkenny4
        • 1 Day Ago
        @raktmn
        And, it also has a lot more to do with them being high priced too. When you make it just as a compliance car you never get the lower cost. So if your intent is to just comply then your intent is also to make them uneconomical.
          raktmn
          • 1 Day Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          I agree completely. It cracks me up when car makers announce tiny production numbers that they know are way too limited in number to ever be profitable, and then complain that they can't make any profit selling EV's. Heck, when they plan failure into their program right from the start by planning to produce such limited limited runs of cars that will be sold in such small limited markets, of course it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yet they can't complain that there aren't customers to buy these cars, because every time they cut the price, they sell out.
        Rotation
        • 1 Day Ago
        @raktmn
        And in Honda's case they seem to be producing to demand. There is a small number of vehicles in the US. They surely had stopped production. Now that there is demand again, it'll be weeks while new production comes over from Japan (where the EV versions are made).
          Rotation
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Rotation
          I'd be shocked if they had hit that number. They had only moved 120 in the first year so in the 3 months on the after that before this update, what could they be at now? They want to move about 1500 cars over the 3 year program. Anyway, the price is pretty attractive, I'll say that. Seeing the payments drop retroactively makes it a dumb decision on my part to get the LEAF instead of the Fit EV. But who knew, right? I still think the car is too small for me. I'm happy with the size of the LEAF.
          raktmn
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Rotation
          I hope you are right.
          raktmn
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Rotation
          From what I understood, Honda already decided how many total 2013's they were going to build and sell in the US. If they have hit that number, from what I understand they aren't going to make any more 2013's. In that case, we won't see any more Fit EV's until they start building 2014's.
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