Most Fiat models could desperately use more buyers. One, the 500e, is notable for a time when Fiat Chrysler’s then-CEO Sergio Marchionne urged people not to buy it.
Marchionne complained that automakers had to produce electric cars to help them meet emissions requirements but that consumers were unwilling to pay anything close to the amount each 500e cost to produce.
“Every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,” Marchionne said during a 2014 event hosted by the Brookings Institution. “I’m honest enough to tell you that.”
But Marchionne’s honesty had the opposite effect on Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book, earning the 500e a spot in Brauer’s garage. Brauer took advantage of a three-year lease deal on a 2017 500e for $49 per month through a dealership in Southern California. He wrote a check on the spot that covered all of the payments.
A year before leasing the 500e, Brauer saw an offer for $89 per month, but the cars were sold out when he arrived. He wasn’t going to miss out on a bargain for a second time.
Marchionne’s statement “added to my desirability to buy the car,” Brauer said. “There are very few times you can buy a product from a giant corporation and know that you’re making out better than the corporation.”