If the economics of electric vehicles seem less than sound, consider this: In Southern California, it can be cheaper to lease a Fiat 500e for three years than to lease a working smartphone.
The Fiat 500e -- the car Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne once told consumers not to buy because he lost $14,000 on each sale -- was being advertised widely in Southern California last month for as little as $69 per month for a 36-month lease, with no money down.
Seem cheap? That monthly payment was $20 higher than it was around Black Friday in November.
The 500e, which was introduced for the 2013 model year, is a "compliance car" -- a vehicle whose sole purpose is to satisfy clean-air regulations in California and other states mandating the sale of zero-emission vehicles. And while Marchionne took heat in 2014 for trying to steer consumers away because of the losses the 500e generates, the automaker needs those sales to be able to keep selling Jeeps, Rams, Dodges and Chryslers in the largest state market.