Recently, we've been hearing from readers that the much-hyped "$199 lease price" for the fun little Fiat 500e all-electric vehicle is one big tease. Readers who have tried to go and actually get a 500e for that price have discovered some eye-catching pricing increases. For example, reader Trent wrote that:

I was very excited that my 500e arrived at my dealer ... but that quickly turned to disappointment and anger when the dealer placed the lease papers in front of me. Months ago I put a deposit on the base model (orange on white with no sunroof or sport package) and asked for the $199 lease but the dealer said it was $263.50! Adding tax to the $199 lease gets it to $216.16 but this was $47.34 higher. I took issue with this and the dealer used their usual misleading monthly payment language 'it's only $47 more' to which I replied but that's an outrageous 22 percent increase – that's the same as jacking the price of the car from $33,000 to $40,000!

"The $199 price is a lie and false advertising" - 500e customer Trent

If you look at the fine print on the official Fiat deal, it does say that the $199 price "requires dealer contribution." Trent continued, "Of course they refused to make that contribution saying that 'the car is sold out and I have a waiting list, so you want it or not?' I'm pretty sure that no dealers are 'contributing' so no one can get the $199 price so it is a lie and false advertising."

Of course, we have no way of knowing if this story is true, but things seem to check out. Trent let other 500e owners and fans know about the situation and it appears there are plenty of others with similar tales. According to Lease Guide, A "dealer contribution" means that "the dealer give[s] up some (or most) of their potential profit to help promote sales and move cars off the sales lot." Ariel Gavilan, Fiat North America's head of communications, told AutoblogGreen that he does not know how much the dealer contribution to get the 500e lease down to $199 a month would be, just that Fiat sets the MSRP and then dealers are free to set their own price. In the case of the 500e, Gavilan admitted that "demand is incredible."

There is a chance that this imbalance will be fixed in the future. While not committing to anything, Gavilan did confirm to AutoblogGreen that increasing supply is "something we might eventually consider," and that he wouldn't be surprised if it's going on now.

*UPDATE: Plug In Cars has some more information, including that Fiat is offering dealers $1,500 for each 500e they sell, and that the $199 lease price point requires the dealer to pass this money along to the buyer.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Incredibly fun to drive.. the 500e (even at 300 a month) is a fine deal. Lease, pay cash, finance, there is always a cost to own a car. Calculate the cost of ownership on this car and it is hard to beat.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Got mine on thursday at the Fiat dealer in Berkeley. They honored the advertised price and I love the car! What a deal and it seems to get even better range than advertised.
      • 1 Year Ago
      And NADA wonders why Tesla wants nothing to do with them.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Check the 500e forums. Some potential buyers are reporting that some dealers are asking for as much a 100% markup from $199 to $399 a month! Still haven't heard of anyone actually getting the $199 deal. At least the car makes me smile - even if the dealer didn't.
      Chris Zeidler
      • 1 Year Ago
      47x36=less than $1,700. That's probably selling at MSRP, someone needs to go back to second grade math class! lol
        Jesse Gurr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chris Zeidler
        It isn't the money, it's the PRINCIPAL of the thing. If they advertised a certain price, they should adhere to it. Not do a bait and switch. It turns consumers off to them in the future. They may have sold out of reservations but I wonder how many refused when given the price increase.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chris Zeidler
        Someone needs to learn about leases, residuals and time value of money. If I remember correctly, the lease has a 71% residual at the end of 3 years. So using your $1700/.29 = an extra $5,862. As for my math $47 / $216 = 22. $33,000 x 1.22 = $40,260, an increase of about $7k, close to the $6k above and neither approximation factors in interest rate, inflation etc.
      • 1 Year Ago
      bullshit lie, dont support fiat, get a smart ed instead
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      What an awfully pretentious ad, anyway...
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        C'mon Those ads are just oozing funny. "Ugliness is the worst form of pollution" "Single and in the fast lane* (with HOV sticker)" Plus they have pretty girls and EV's! Pretentious, sure. Corny, yeah. But I like them.
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you think a car dealer is honest remember Richard Nixon. If I remember correctly, he was a car dealer before going into politics.Oneof the signs opponents used to have said'Would you buy a used car from thisman?'. Enough said. Car dealers have not changed that much.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lets face it, most dealerships will do anything to get you to buy the vehicle and most things they tell you are lies. The only time I even came close to trusting a car salesman was when a very good friend was working at a smaller dealership in a smaller town. He did tell us about a new lease the auto company was offering, explaining every little detail. I did lease a small truck and was more than happy with it and the deal. At the end of the lease we purchased the truck for a good price and then drove it for another 8 or 9 years. The last 4 years were driven by my son, and even he loved that truck. My next truck was also purchased through the same salesman and drove that one for 16 years and it is now being driven by my grandson! The key is to take care of your vehicle, change the oil when you are supposed to, if you live in a cold climate where they salt the roads, wash the vehicles to keep that off also. Both of my vehicles were American made, although before you all jump up and down, I also know many or most of the parts are made in some other country. Both were mechanically sound and if I did see or suspect a problem I took care of it immediately. I never had any major problems with the smaller truck and in 16 years only had two events that I would call major. There again, I have a good friend who is in the business of fixing cars and trucks and got the work done fast and cheaper than at a dealership. Once I took it for an oil change and was told I had a leak, so as not to bother my son to call our regular mechanic and having to have my son take my truck there or to pick me up from there and take me back to get it when it was done, I had the dealership fix the problem! BIG MISTAKE! The dealership charged me twice what our friend would charge and better yet, never fixed that problem! I still had to have our friend fix it. And yes, I has since bought another new vehicle from said dealership but took my son along to help with the negotiating. My older friend has since retired but did tell me who to talk to and said that the new person is one of the most honest people selling that he knew, besides my friend. I was happy with the deal and I love my new vehicle, just not a truck this time. Getting older and it is more difficult to climb up in those trucks, but I certainly do miss one.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Didn't anybody tell him to read the fine print? The dumbing down of America!
        • 1 Year Ago
        You are so right. How many Americans do not read their mortgages? Then they accuse the Banks of tricking them about things that were in black and white and could have been known upfrong.
      • 1 Year Ago
      So WHAT is the issue. You read the agreement and case closed. Go home and shut up. Everyone should do the same thing. Years ago, with balloon mortgage ARM. Everyone cried the blues after the rate went up. You did not sign the papers and good for you. I did not sign into a ARM either.
        • 1 Year Ago
        The issue is false advertising is illiegal. This would actually be legal advertising in this situation (thanks to the fine print)...but only if the deal were actually available at this time somewhere in the advertised area. However, the complaint is that no dealer is actually offering this deal. It is also illegal as the customer specifically asked for the $199 lease deal when he put down his deposit (money accepted by the dealership qualifies as "consideration" by the buying party...he therefore had a verbal contract to buy a car at a $199 lease price.) The dealer waited until the car was ordered an sitting in front of the customer to give him the "real" price. Some customers would feel pressure to just take the car they ordered at the new price...or be forced to because they were waiting for a vechile and need it immediatly.
          • 1 Year Ago
          It's not false at all---read it
      • 1 Year Ago
      Umm, it isn't false advertising. This is an example of the stupidity running rampant in America. No where does it state that the $199 payment is guaranteed. It is entirely at the discretion of the dealer.
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