Fiat CEO Marchionne has already hinted that producing the Fiat 500e, an all-electric version of the popular Fiat 500 series, is tantamount to fiscal masochism, but offering a $199/mo lease deal on top of that is probably going too far.
Then again, because automakers and dealers only work very sketchily together on pricing, the $199/mo lease deal is nearly impossible to get. Sure, it sounds good on paper but, never forget this, always read the fine print and ask questions. One particular disappointed client, who’d put down his deposit on the Fiat 500e, available only in California, was informed that his lease would be $263.50/mo after taxes, when it should have been $216.16/mo.
So, what’s the deal? The fine print, which on the website can only be seen if you hover your mouse over the + on the Fiat 500e site, states: “Offer requires dealer contribution.” and “Dealer’s actual terms may vary.” As you know, everyone loves it when the fine print says “Your mileage may vary.”
In this case, a dealer contribution is required in order for clients to reap the benefits of the $199/mo lease deal. In dealerspeak, a dealer contribution means that the dealer gives up a significant portion of their profits, maybe all of it, to cuts costs for the client. Buyers of the Fiat 500e can get a lower price, and dealerships keep their inventory moving.
The problem is that there is so much demand for the Fiat 500e that dealers have no problem moving inventory, so why drop prices? So, was the demand created by the fact that the 500e is an electric vehicle that starts at $32.600 or because of the $199/mo lease deal? Unfortunately, the fine print pretty much absolves the dealer and automaker from any wrongdoing, but some people are claiming false advertising. False advertising could get Fiat and its dealers in a little bit of stickiness, legally speaking.
We’ll have to wait and see if clients will accept the higher price, sans dealer contribution, or if Fiat is going to step up to the plate and honor their promises. The letter of the law may be on the automaker’s side, but what of the spirit of the law, which favors the client? Could this one little oops mar the Fiat 500e’s image?
Image © Fiat [screenshot]