Among the 25,084 Fiat 500s sold in the United States in 2015 were at least 6,000 battery-electric 500e cars sold in California and parts of Oregon to meet state environmental mandates.
Here's the thing. In 2014, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company loses about $14,000 on each 500e it sells. If that's right it means Fiat lost about $84 million in 2015 selling the 500e.
Fiat doesn't report sales of the 500e separately, but the figure was mentioned by Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler's passenger car brands. State rebate data compiled by the online newsletter Inside EVs, which tracks monthly sales of electric vehicles, also corroborates the sales figure.
Of course, those money-losing sales accumulate valuable credits for the automaker as it tries to adhere to ever tightening fuel economy and emissions standards.
California requires large automakers to derive a share of their vehicle sales in the state from zero-emission vehicles. Plug-in hybrids get some credit under California's standards, but by 2025 about 15 percent of cars sold in the state would need to have no tailpipe emissions at all -- a definition met only by all-electric cars such as the 500e and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles such as the Toyota Mirai.
Asked this month whether FCA would lose money on sales of the planned 2017 Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid, due this year, as it does on the 500e, Marchionne had a direct answer: "Hell no."