Had the pleasure to taking a 500e for a short test drive yesterday.
The lack of anything happening when you turn the key is disconcerting at first. Because it still uses a turn-key instead of a push button, the natural instinct is to keep pressing the key in the expectation of hearing something firing that tells your brain to ease off. I anticipate FIAT having to replace a bunch of those ignitions under warranty.
The floor in back has been raised to the point of making the 500e pretty much a 2-seater with a decent sized cargo hold.
The car is extremely quiet and quite spunky; especially right off the line. I even burned a bit of rubber inadvertently giving it on a green light. The only thing you hear at street speeds is the noise of the tires rolling, and a very faint electric humm.
The overall feeling of the car is of substance, solidity, and fun to drive.
The "Studio Manager" Steve was telling me that they got a shipment of 5 and sold 4 w/o even a test drive. The one I had the privilege of driving was for a buyer who changed its mind when they saw the color. He had two other interested prospects coming to take a look at it that afternoon.
The dealer has a 2nd shipment coming that is totally sold, and he was taking deposits for the 3rd shipment. FIAT has not told them what their total allocation will be.
These cars are loaded with economic distortions: a $7,500 federal tax credit included in the lease; an additional $2,500 CA tax credit; reduced insurance rates due to the mere fact that these cars can't go very far, thus minimizing risk; $1,000-2,000 rebates from the utilities to buy and install a Stage 2 charger. All of this in addition of the reduced fuel costs and use of the carpool lane, so people can justify adding them to their households w/o impacting their finances.
Steve told me of a gentleman who drives a GMC Acadia: adding the 500e reduced his combined insurance cost, plus he will reduce his fuel costs.
The advertised lease is $199/month and $999 at signing; a Stage 2 charger costs $999 plus another grand for installation. Be prepared to walk out closer to $300/month by the time you get a car that already has navigation and a sunroof.
I was totally impressed. It would make a perfect addition for those with a college-bound kid or just in need of a second car.