For a car that Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne still doesn't sound enthusiastic to sell, the 500e sure is getting a lot of official company support. Despite this year's admittedly-limited production run already being sold out, the company continues to promote the values of the improved (in my eyes) battery-powered version over its gasoline-burning sibling.

Case in point, at the (totally amazing) running of the 2013 Refuel event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Fiat flag flew proud over a substantial piece of parking-lot real estate, wherein a small fleet of 500e coupes sat ready to impress all driver license-holding comers willing to wheel the Italian sub-compact around an orange-coned autocross course. We decided it would be foolish to not take Fiat up on its kind offer.



Sure, we've already enjoyed some canyon-carving seat time in the 500e, but this was an opportunity for total hoonage.

How could we not? Yeah, we've already enjoyed some Califorinia canyon-carving seat time in the 500e, but this was an opportunity for total hoonage. The kind of extra-legal activity we are (mostly) loathe to participate in on public roads. And we weren't alone. There was a steady stream of both wanna-be Mario Andretti's, and serious track rats signing up to fling the little electric about the improvised circuit. Most, we believe it's fair to say, came away impressed. We certainly were.

The Fiat reps on hand were friendly, informed and enthusiastic and, after getting us situated in the leather driver's seat of a nice black example, encouraged us not to hold back. We obilged. Tires grabbed at the pavement searching for grip as we acquainted the accelerator with a leaden loafer and the car shot forward, reaching turn one – a hairpin – far faster than we had expected.

The car shot forward, reaching turn one far faster than we had expected.

No problem, though. The regen-aided brakes reeled us in well enough to allow our foot to ask for more amps as we squealed around the turn, briefly meeting the carpet as we contributed to the black rubber mosaic that decorated the pavement at the turn exit.

The rest of the course offered more squealing corners than rocket-ship straights, so when the end came too soon, we were pleased at the invitation to try another lap. Two more roundabouts and we were reluctantly ready to let the next person have a go. But, instead of a "pull up behind that car on the left," we heard "would you like to go around again?" "Don't mind if we do," our grin and right foot communicated.



We came away from Fiat's "environmentally sexy" autocross installation both pleased and puzzled. The 500e has to be the best electric car its maker doesn't want to sell. So, could this little drive event just be an exercise in improving the image of the company? (Hey, it seems to be working for Nissan.) We certainly noticed that the short survey we were asked to complete before and after the drive had everything to do with the brand and nothing to do with this particular electric model.

We wish Fiat would consider burnishing the EV member of its brand in more parts of the country – right now, it's only available in California – so that others might have a chance at a positive electric experience. And for just $199 a month, too. Nothing, they say, sells electron-eating cars like bums in seats. We're certainly sold.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah, still a pretty good load area for such a small car though. Guess they will have to saw their ponies in half.
      Foolonthehill
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yesterday, July 3, dealer rep said they will arrive at San Diego dealers on July 13.
      360_AD
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's odd that Fiat is going through all this trouble to advertise a car that is reportedly sold out. Couldn't even order one if I wanted.
        Spec
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @360_AD
        I think they miscalculated by assuming that no one would want these cars and they would have to bend over backwards to sell them. It turns out, that is dead wrong.
          purrpullberra
          • 13 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          Yep, it furthers Tesla's claim that regular car people just can't believe in an EV. People who have an unnatural relationship to or 'earn money' from ICE's or the gas/oil industry just can't get on-board until long after the obviousness has set in to even the ill-informed. Yea. Sigh.
        Andrée
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @360_AD
        "Sold out" means that the total number of cars the manufacturer planned on making for this year have all been spoken for by the dealers. It does NOT mean all the cars have been sold to individual buyers. While many Fiat Studios have waiting lists for the 500e, some over 100 people long, there is still a chance that you might luck out at your own local studio. For instance, each buyer has a spot, but each buyer may also have a specific color request (one of five colors), a specific interior ambiance/exterior trim (black or white, white is shown in the images above, with white steering wheel, lower fascia, rear view mirrors, etc), or desire the eSport trim (changes the wheels, adds orange stripes, orange mirror covers, requires black interior). Even if you were the first on the list, you might well pass on the first cars, let's say you really want all white (interior and exterior) and all black is available. Take it or pass? Some people will pass if it isn't exactly what they wanted. And color popularity varies by area. Even with the two central stocking areas for Northern and Southern California, they could run out of one or two color combinations fast. And that's when you get your chance. By being totally flexible in colors/interiors. And having all your ducks in a row. Like knowing if you'll pay cash or have the stellar credit for the leasing or having the title to your trade. All that paperwork stuff. So if they call or have one locally, unspoken for, you can just go and pick it up. Boom!
        express2day
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @360_AD
        It's "green" PR. For some, simply knowing that a company is making an effort to offer EVs is enough to get them to buy a car from them even if it's not an EV.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nah, the Honda Fit EV is the best electric car the maker does not want to sell you. On the radio this morning here in the UK there was an advert for the Fit, which was boasting of its load carrying capacity, and talked about a farmer whose Land Rover trailing a horse box broke down. No problem, the resourceful fellow simply loaded his Shetland pony into the Fit, and went on his merry way. I don't know what all the fuss is about personally, as I never leave home without at least one Shetland pony in the back of the car, but there you go. Carrying Shetland ponies is way more impressive to your friends than simply accelerating fast around a race track.
        Spec
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @DaveMart
        I have no idea what this post is about. It sounds like an acid trip. A horse in a Honda Fit?
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        The backseats in the Fit EV do not work like the Fit ones. They aren't magic seats so you don't get the increased vertical room nor do they fold flat when down.
      Mr Sled
      • 1 Year Ago
      They should have given you an Abarth to toss around in parallel. They didn't I'm guessing, as you probably would have had too much fun.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      BTW . . . remember when Chrysler had that ENVI group with the electrified sports car, the electrified mini-van, and electrified jeep? What a pile of bull-feces that was. I never really trusted any of it because they never gave out any specs. It really was all just a dog & pony show wasn't it?
        Daniel Gray
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        I landed a quick ride in the ENVI/Lotus around Capitol Hill. It was a hoot ...
          Spec
          • 13 Hours Ago
          @Daniel Gray
          "around Capitol Hill" . . . yep, that is where they were really being marketed, isn't it?
        chambo622
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Wow...totally forgot about that. Big auto manufacturers are either totally incompetent when it comes to developing electrics, or there is lots of subterfuge and whatnot going on. Pretty sure it's both.
          CoolWaters
          • 13 Hours Ago
          @chambo622
          They can be both. Evil is essentially stupid or lazy.
          omni007
          • 13 Hours Ago
          @chambo622
          are you saying they're either stupid or evil? watch out, you're sounding like Dan
          BraveLil'Toaster
          • 13 Hours Ago
          @chambo622
          @omni: The two are often indistinguishable, unfortunately.
      lad
      • 1 Year Ago
      Did I read somewhere that the drive line was done by Bosch not Chrysler?
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nothing whatsoever to do with this thread, but this fascinated me: 'A sports car valued at around £300,000 could be sent to the crusher after it was seized by police. The Lamborghini Aventador was seized on Wilton Place in Knightsbridge for being driven illegally on London's streets without insurance.' http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/no-insurance-300000-lamborghini-faces-crusher-after-it-was-seized-in-london-8686010.html
        William Flesher
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @DaveMart
        If it had no place here, why did you bother? You might as well post how your eight year old child made $25k last month by using your computer for easy fun and profit.
        purrpullberra
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @DaveMart
        That is a dog damn shame. I can't believe how insane rules can get when made by committees or folks long rotten in their position. Does any legislature or leader in the UK not fall into those two camps. The US has nothing to brag about though term-limits are a +. I guess I expect better from Britons.
        Spec
        • 13 Hours Ago
        @DaveMart
        Don't they have auctions? In the US, the government seizes all sorts of stuff in drug deals, cars abandoned at the impound, foreclosures, etc. It all just gets auctioned off. No sense destroying valuable property.
      purrpullberra
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love this. It bolsters my belief that electric cars in general will give a 'hard-core driver' as much or more fun than a 'regular' hot hatch or sports car since so much of peoples driving is at the lower speeds where an electric motor outshines all but the best ICE's. The brakes were mentioned but I want to know how well Fiat put together the regen brake handing over to regular braking. I bet that was a TON of fun.
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      By any chance, did they say when they would begin delivering next year's allocation?
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