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Fiat Chrysler CEO: Please Don't Buy Our Electric Car

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the collector's-item-in-advance dept.

Transportation 462

schwit1 (797399) writes "The CEO of Fiat Chrysler said he hopes that people don't buy his company's electric car, the Fiat 500e, which he is forced to sell at a loss because of state and federal mandates. 'I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,' Sergio Marchionne told the audience at the Brookings Institute during a discussion of the auto bailout. 'I'm honest enough to tell you that I will make the car, I'll make it available which is my requirement but I will sell the limit of what I need to sell and not one more,' said Marchionne. Fiat Chrysler produces two Fiat 500s. The gas-powered Fiat 500 has a base price of $17,300. The electric Fiat 500e runs $32,650. In his candid remarks, Marchionne blamed regulations set in place in California and by President Obama." (Also at USA Today.) If they find they're selling too many for comfort, couldn't they raise the price?

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Raise the Price (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079485)

No, they can't. CA Regulations don't allow electric alternatives to be n% more than gas.

Re:Raise the Price (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079545)

But they certainly could elect to not sell those vehicles in California.

Re:Raise the Price (-1, Troll)

dimeglio (456244) | about 4 months ago | (#47079605)

Or they can work harder at making them cheaper. This CEO is very short sighted.

Re:Raise the Price (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079819)

How is he short sighted? The Republicans have fuck him and his company. They want to put him and all of his employees out on the streets. To their kind, autoworkers are scum that need to starve. That is their world. That is why they are doing this to him. They are forcing him at gunpoint to sell cars at a loss until they go out of business.

Re:Raise the Price (4, Insightful)

stephenmac7 (2700151) | about 4 months ago | (#47079871)

s/Republicans/progressives

Re:Raise the Price (5, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 4 months ago | (#47079983)

How is he short sighted? The Republicans have fuck him and his company. They want to put him and all of his employees out on the streets. To their kind, autoworkers are scum that need to starve. That is their world. That is why they are doing this to him. They are forcing him at gunpoint to sell cars at a loss until they go out of business.

Are you saying that the oil and coal burning/global warming denying republicans are forcing Chrysler to sell electric cars (at a loss) "at gunpoint"? And they're going to hurt the oil and coal industries so they can add the autoworkers to the unemployed?

Marchionne blamed regulations set in place in California and by President Obama.

I must have missed when the president switched parties. Obama the Republican. Who knew.

Could elect not to sell any vehicles in California (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#47079685)

You are correct that Chrysler could in theory choose to leave the California market entirely. But in order to sell any cars in states with emissions and fuel economy rules like those of California, an automaker has to sell these compliance cars.

Re:Raise the Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079687)

They would lose even more doing that (not selling any type of car in CA)...this is an additional cost to them, but given the number he expects (hopes) to sell, there is still marginal utility in offering them at the constrained price.

Re:Raise the Price (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079711)

California requires a n% of vehicles to be zero emission.

Please try again. Or wander off and play with yourself before reality impinges on your mushy mind and you finally realize that Sergio isn't as fucked in the head as you'd like to go on believing.

Re:Raise the Price (4, Informative)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 4 months ago | (#47079653)

But it is already expensive enough that it doesn't make a lot of sense to buy if you want to buy one to save money on gas. The price difference is $15350. If we assume $4/gal for gas, then that's 3837.5 gallons. Fiat 500 gas version gets 31mpg city, 40mpg highway. If we average that, then we get 136,231.25 miles before the price difference pays for itself. And that's assuming we paid cash for the car. If you finance it, then add interest on top of that.

Now, if you want to get the electric version because it's cool and/or you want to support the technology, cool, but realize it's not really saving you money on gas.

But really, if they have to make at least X cars, and they're not making one more, why is he telling people not buy them? They're still making the exact same number. If some people listen to him and don't buy them, doesn't that just mean they'll sit on the lot longer and sold for even less? If it does help them somehow, could they make the electric version is really horrible colors?

Re:Raise the Price (4, Insightful)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 4 months ago | (#47079823)

But really, if they have to make at least X cars, and they're not making one more, why is he telling people not buy them? They're still making the exact same number. If some people listen to him and don't buy them, doesn't that just mean they'll sit on the lot longer and sold for even less?

Presumably as a PR stunt to bring attention to the regulatory issue.

Re:Raise the Price (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 4 months ago | (#47079847)

136k isn't an unreasonable mileage for a car. Actually, it's on the low end for a good car. My last car broke 240k - all on the original engine block - before it incurred damage that was uneconomical to repair, and that was due to driver error, not breakdown.

Re:Raise the Price (1)

msauve (701917) | about 4 months ago | (#47079879)

"The price difference is $15350"

But according to their website [fiatusa.com] , there are up to $13,000 worth of "incentives and credits" available.

Re:Raise the Price (1)

Steffan (126616) | about 4 months ago | (#47079949)

Currently in CA (the only state in which they're sold, until they start in Oregon later this year), there is a $2,500 rebate from the state in addition to a $7,500 tax credit from the Federal government.

Re:Raise the Price (3, Interesting)

dreold (827386) | about 4 months ago | (#47079969)

The price difference is $15350

You forget the government incentives. $2,500 from the State of California; $7,500 from the federal government and $2,000 from FIAT themselves.

The effective difference is is then $3,350.

I actually did my homework, and the result was that for my old car (Audi A4, 25 mpg avg.) at 4.29-4.49 per gallon (Premium Fuel) the savings with the FIAT 500e for my daily commute were such that with the incentives, the rest of the car cost amortizes in about 5 years.

Plus the car is fun to drive.

Re:Raise the Price (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47080087)

People forget whether a gas car is cheaper or not, the earth is still paying for it. It's called an externality in economics

Re:Raise the Price (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#47079765)

you made this up. this is a troll lie. The truth is, they can't raise the price because they're trying to sell a certain quota of "compliance cars". They chose $32,450 as the price because that's the most they could charge but still meet the quota.

I'm all for this approach.

Re:Raise the Price (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079903)

All you've done is confirm the GPs claim.... they're building cars of a design that "complies"—to a quota—with a mandated price schedule. The GP is dead on correct.

There are some seriously muddleheaded people advocating this nonsense.

Re:Raise the Price (5, Insightful)

erice (13380) | about 4 months ago | (#47079973)

No, they can't. CA Regulations don't allow electric alternatives to be n% more than gas.

Citation needed. I looked through the regulation and I see no mention of requiring a certain price for ZEV's.

What it does require is that a certain % of the sales be of ZEV's. If they are change too much, they won't sell enough. This leads to two solutions:

1) Spend little on R&D for an electric vehicle. Sell it just cheap enough (at a loss if you have to) to meet the minimum requirement. Whine about it.
2) Put some effort and investment in developing an electric car that people will actually want with a manufacturing cost that leads to a price people are willing to pay. Refine the design over time so that it becomes that profit center that saves your bacon when the bottom inevitably drops out of the IC car market as the cost of gas heads toward the stratosphere.

the answer to the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079495)

Seriously slashdot, you ask why they can't raise the price when a couple of sentences above you mention state mandates?

Yergh...

Indirect tax (4, Insightful)

jlar (584848) | about 4 months ago | (#47079497)

This is in effect an indirect tax. Buyers of non-zero emission cars are effectively paying for the loss that automakers make on the zero emission cars. It would be much more honest to tax them directly instead of letting the auto industry act as an intermediary. But then again: taxes and honesty are probably not words that one should use in the same sentence.

Re:Indirect tax (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079581)

And it would also be more honest to tax people who drive gasoline vehicles for the damage their exhaust gases are doing to the environment rather than externalizing it. But, that's the way it goes.

Re:Indirect tax (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079707)

Madmade global warming is bullshit!!! I'm not going to pay a bullshit tax to make fucking hippies like you feel better! The people wanting these bullshit taxes are tax and spend democrats that want us to live in a third world country especially if you are a straight white man like me. I'M FUCKING SICK OF IT, PEOPLE LIKE YOU NEED TO BE TAXED TO DEATH TO LEARN THAT TAXES ARE NOT A SOLUTION!

Re:Indirect tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47080075)

Most third-world countries have very very low taxes. Most first-world countries have higher taxes.

Re:Indirect tax (1)

The Rizz (1319) | about 4 months ago | (#47079599)

You've got it backwards. The zero-emission cars are the tax. They're how CA is "taxing" the car manufacturers for the emissions their vehicles cause, while simultaneously reducing those emissions.

Re:Indirect tax (0)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47079647)

They're how CA is "taxing" the car manufacturers for the emissions their vehicles cause, while simultaneously reducing those emissions.

Reducing emissions making them build cars no-one wants?

Re:Indirect tax (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 4 months ago | (#47079743)

The loss on the cars no-one wants being less than the cost of the credits that are the alternative makes them build them.

Re:Indirect tax (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 months ago | (#47079855)

Actually the 500e sold out by June last year.

Re:Indirect tax (2)

dreold (827386) | about 4 months ago | (#47079977)

No, they are still being manufactured and sold. I bought mine in March 2014, Manufacture Date Feb 2014.

Re:Indirect tax (4, Insightful)

AaronW (33736) | about 4 months ago | (#47079951)

I see tons of EV cars in California. Leafs are everywhere.

If Tesla can make a full-sized sedan with a 265 mile range (85KWh battery) for $73,570 while averaging a 25% profit margin there's no reason why Fiat shouldn't be able to make a profit selling a much smaller car with a much smaller battery and a much smaller range. Perhaps they should invest in Tesla's gigafactory to bring down cost and/or license Tesla's batteries like Toyota did. If they're like Nissan then they only need around 1/4 the capacity of Tesla's 85KWh battery pack, a smaller electric motor and a smaller inverter. If it cost Fiat $46,650 per-car then they're doing something wrong. They're probably using those more expensive, lower energy dense LiFePo prismatic batteries that everyone except Tesla is using.

No, YOU'VE got it backwards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47080033)

Taxes on businesses are *always* passed on to the consumer. In order to make up for losses on the electric cars, auto manufacturers jack up the price on their non-electric cars. So consumers still pay that tax, but it is the consumers of the non-electric cars that ultimately pay it.

Those who are not prone to thinking things through imagine that taxing a business means taking some money away from a rich and successful person (or group of people) instead of the poor people at the bottom. But all that money comes directly from the people who buy the products the business offers...and the business isn't there to offer those products but to make money. So, when taxes go up, prices go up to cover it.

If you try to correct this with more legal price controls and what-not, the result is even more clever price-burden shifting, or the business just pulls out and operates elsewhere (happy to export to you, provided you pay what they ask).

Re:No, YOU'VE got it backwards. (1)

The Rizz (1319) | about 4 months ago | (#47080083)

Taxes on businesses are *always* passed on to the consumer.

I never said they weren't. I just said that the zero-emission cars were the tax levied against the non-zero ones. Consumer-, dealer-, or manufacturer-level tax, it's all the same in the end.

Re:Indirect tax (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 4 months ago | (#47079719)

It makes more sense the way it's set up. Without the requirements, manufacturers won't develop the technology. Once the technology is better developed and more mature, and in higher volumes, the costs will drop. If you make it a government tax and then government gives grants to the auto manufacturers to develop the technology, they'll have no incentive to do it with the intention of making it viable. This forces the auto manufacturers to work on manufacturing methods that are viable. That said, I'm also in favor of government giving grants for research (not to the big auto manufacturers though!) or high-risk loans to promising startups for developing the technology and manufacturing methods.

Re:Indirect tax (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47079735)

They should have demanded that 10% of cars sold are flying invisible unicorns, because it was just as likely to be successful.

Re:Indirect tax (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#47080105)

Funny how everyone but Chrysler has managed.

That's one way to look at it (1, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 4 months ago | (#47079777)

another way is to say that automakers are shifting their costs. Dirty air and smog lead to lung disease and cancer, ergo higher medical costs. The health problems also lower worker productivity.

Why should I have to pay for the damage done by cheap cars?

Re:That's one way to look at it (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | about 4 months ago | (#47079929)

another way is to say that automakers are shifting their costs. Dirty air and smog lead to lung disease and cancer, ergo higher medical costs. The health problems also lower worker productivity. Why should I have to pay for the damage done by cheap cars? -- Hi! I make Firefox Plug-ins. Check 'em out @ https://addons.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org]

Browser plug-in software makes people spend more time at their computers becoming sedentary and isolated, leading to health problems , ergo higher medical costs. The health problems also lower worker productivity. Why should I have to pay for the damage done by browser plug-ins?

Re:That's one way to look at it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079989)

Doofus: I give you 10 for effort, 10 for creativity, but 0 for accuracy.

The exhaust from YOUR vehicle affects MY lungs. So take your browser plug-in and shove it.

Re:Indirect tax (3, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 4 months ago | (#47079921)

It would be much more honest to tax them directly instead of letting the auto industry act as an intermediary.

The reason they don't do that is to leave as much of the implementation as possible in the hands of the free market, while still achieving the electric vehicle roll-out goals. It's pretty much the same thing as CAFE regulations, which mandate the fleet fuel efficiency, but let the car companies decide how to adjust models and prices to achieve the overall average.

It is an approach that is strongly advocated by free-market-oriented (ie: right wing) policy analysts. The sound-bites against it you hear from the right are not genuine objection to the practice as opposed to other means of achieving the same roll-out goals, they are API calls; programming you to go onto social network sites and bitch about guv'mint regyuh-lashun.

Now I want one. (4, Funny)

Camel Pilot (78781) | about 4 months ago | (#47079499)

Interesting marketing technique.

I blame bad design (4, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 4 months ago | (#47079501)

Toyota & Honda, heck even GM, can all make zero emission cars. I do like what California did though. They set _sales_ qoutas_ instead of manufacturing qoutas, so they companies couldn't weasel out of getting real zero emission cars on the road. It's rare to see regulations that have teeth in them. I suppose with the amount of Smog California has (insert South Park Smug jokes here) that's pretty important though. But I wish Arizona would do it. We have days when you're not suppose to go outside because the smog is so bad...

SHITTY PLUGINS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079525)

Your firefox plugins are shitty.

Re:I blame bad design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079611)

Fuck California, and no we don't go for that bullshit here in AZ.

If pollution is a problem, raise gas taxes and set reasonable pollution limits on cars.

Re:I blame bad design (3, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#47079695)

Uh, that's what California did first. Ever notice how some vehicles have special auto parts listings for "California" versus "Federal"? The California Air Resources Board has required certain vehicles to meet their standards since sometime in the seventies, which was why some engines weren't available there or had extra emissions control equipment installed.

I'd much rather see a mandate for a certain percentage of all-electric vehicles than I would to see a deviation from the Federal standard for any given state. I really wouldn't mind an electric for my commute as I only drive 20 miles round-trip, and my wife only drives 40 miles round-trip, so either of us could easily commute with an electric if they'd build one that we would actually want to own. The Fiat 500e was the first one that appealed to me, and I was hoping for a 100% electric Dodge Dart or Chrysler 200 so that I could have four doors, but that doesn't look like it'll be in the cards based on what's being said here.

Re:I blame bad design (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079759)

1) California has the highest gas taxes and the most stringent pollution limits. But the problem is that those regulations hurt the poor and working class the hardest. For example, the poorer you are, the least likely you are to be able to live close to work. You need additional, alternative measures that help push more of the burden onto the wealthier.

2) The Phoenix metro area is moving to the top of the air pollution list. You're going to have to eat your words soon enough. Arizona will "get religion", so to speak, soon enough.

Re:I blame bad design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079893)

Respiratory diseases hurt the poor too.

Re:I blame bad design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079853)

No one forced them to accept bailout money from United States Government, which is deal with the devil:

a,
California Republican

Thanks Obama (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079505)

This is what happens when the brainiacs at the government decide for businesses what they should sell, and what customers should buy. Stupid liberals doing stupid things.

Thanks Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079737)

Surly, it's more a case of stupid governments bailing out industries that manifestly failed due to lack of innovation. When the financial pressure came on they should have been allowed to die so that people who do have ideas and capability are allowed to succeed in the marketplace.

Afaik Tesla can manage to sell are car and make money... apart from in states where those who cling to an industry model that cannot innovate now try and use legislation around direct sales to defend their inability to sell cars! Yet here we have their CEO moaning about their own inability to sell at a profit due to legislation.

Legislation happens in all industries and good business, with a few brain cells, can operate within such an environment. This lot are trying to use legislation to cripple innovators then crying over legislation when it's not in their favour. ... I somewhat lack sympathy in this case.

Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079507)

they could produce an electric car that people actually want. Tesla can sell at a higher price because there is actually demand, who the hell would want this [imgur.com] ?

Re:Or... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079551)

> who the hell would want this?

Homosexuals. Duh.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079931)

Your mom, wife, mistress, sister:

pick any three-some...

Something Doesn't Smell Right (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 4 months ago | (#47079511)

How much did it cost to setup their infrastructure to produce these cars? It seems like it would be a loss if they don't sell any at all. Why wouldn't they raise the price? This sounds like it's more about politics than sound business decisions. That makes me question Sergio Marchionne's ability to run the company effectively.

Re:Something Doesn't Smell Right (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 4 months ago | (#47079731)

If they don't sell zero-emission vehicles, they have to buy zero-emission credits to make up the difference. Fiat has clearly decided that it's cheaper to sell electric cars at a loss (since if they raised the price they couldn't hit the required sales percentage) than to buy the credits.

Re:Something Doesn't Smell Right (1)

Carnildo (712617) | about 4 months ago | (#47079889)

How much did it cost to setup their infrastructure to produce these cars? It seems like it would be a loss if they don't sell any at all. Why wouldn't they raise the price?

The electric Fiat shares probably 90% of its parts and most of an assembly line with the gas-powered Fiat 500; it's the remaining 10% (particularly the batteries) that make the 500e so expensive to produce. California clean-air laws require Fiat to sell a certain number of electric cars if they want to do business in California and restrict how much Fiat can mark up the price of the electric version. If Fiat can't get the parts needed for less than the permissible markup, they're required to sell the cars at a loss.

$30,000 for a battery and some electronics (2)

Albanach (527650) | about 4 months ago | (#47079527)

So, we are to believe that the electric variant costs $46,650. I can only believe that must include a huge amount for the sunk costs - designing the electric car, rather than each electric car being $30k more expensive than the gas equivalent.

Re:$30,000 for a battery and some electronics (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47079633)

I can only believe that must include a huge amount for the sunk costs - designing the electric car, rather than each electric car being $30k more expensive than the gas equivalent.

Well, duh. Do you really think the cost of the gasoline car doesn't include the cost of designing it?

Fixed costs & whining (4, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#47079651)

So, we are to believe that the electric variant costs $46,650. I can only believe that must include a huge amount for the sunk costs - designing the electric car, rather than each electric car being $30k more expensive than the gas equivalent.

(Disclosure - I am a cost accountant)

Wouldn't be surprising actually. The powertrain is completely different than the gas powered car and there are non-trivial engineering, tooling, and other fixed production costs that have to be amortized across lots of units if you are going to sell at a relatively low price. Plus I imagine the powertrain is not produced in big enough volumes to realize real economies of scale so the unit costs I would expect to be fairly high. Given the state of the art in electric vehicles I really don't see an electric vehicle being significantly profitable at less than $50,000 right now. There simply aren't enough of them out there to drive the unit costs down. I expect that number to fall over time but it will require investment by companies and maybe some government subsidies here and there.

On the other hand, enough with the whining and make a car that is worth what it costs to manufacture. Tesla makes a genuinely good car and sells it for a price that should bring a profit (eventually). The Fiat 500e is rather pathetic by comparison. It's a little runabout with a short range rather than a serious attempt to build an electric car. Regulations are not to blame for their inability to make a profit with an electric car. Their lack of engineering prowess and lack of commitment to the technology is why they are where they are.

Re:Fixed costs & whining (3, Interesting)

Steffan (126616) | about 4 months ago | (#47079815)

It may not have a huge range (I get ~ 100 miles on full charge), but it is absolutely a serious attempt at an electric car. It appears to be well-engineered, and not an afterthought of tacked-on parts. It is based on the same chassis as the gas-powered Fiat. Doubtless it could be even more efficient if they were to optimize it more for the drivetrain it has.

I think the engineers did a commendable job of creating a practical electric car within their budget / time / materials constraints. Pathetic it absolutely is not. In my opinion, until Tesla takes on this market segment, there is nothing that will touch it.

I do find it curious that Marchionne is publicly trying to dissuade people from purchasing it. A weird reverse-psychology attempt?

Re:Fixed costs & whining (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#47079907)

On the other hand, enough with the whining and make a car that is worth what it costs to manufacture. Tesla makes a genuinely good car and sells it for a price that should bring a profit (eventually). The Fiat 500e is rather pathetic by comparison. It's a little runabout with a short range rather than a serious attempt to build an electric car. Regulations are not to blame for their inability to make a profit with an electric car. Their lack of engineering prowess and lack of commitment to the technology is why they are where they are.

I cannot bear this attitude. I hear it in the bay area all the time, and it makes my blood boil. I'll spell it out: the Fiat 500e is $36k. The Model S starts at $70k. The Model S is twice as expensive as the 500e! Do I really need to explain to you why the $70k car is nicer than the $36k car?? OF COURSE the Model S is fancier and has better range and better performance. Duh. There's too much Tesla fanboyism around here.

Re:Fixed costs & whining (1)

AaronW (33736) | about 4 months ago | (#47080037)

I see no problem making EVs for well under 50K and making a profit on them.

If Tesla can sell their cars with an 85KWh battery that gets 265 miles for $73,570 and average over 25% margins then there is no reason why a car that is quite a bit smaller with significantly less range shouldn't be able to be made for under $40K and be profitable. It all comes down to how much is invested in the technology. Tesla spent years perfecting their technology. They spent a lot of R&D optimizing their batteries, both for performance, reliability, capacity and cost. While everyone else is screwing around with expensive LiFePO prismatic batteries, Tesla was able to work with 18650 cells using a different chemistry. They did a lot of things to cut the cost of the 18650 cells and focused on how to get safety and long life out of the cells while getting much higher energy density. Now they're focusing on their gigafactory to further reduce the battery cost.

Tesla also went with an induction motor which is cheaper to manufacture than the standard synchronous motor everyone else uses since there are no rare-earth magnets in it nor strong magnetic fields to deal with during manufacturing.

A Fiat 500e needs only a fraction of Tesla's battery capacity and a smaller inverter and electric motor so it should be cheaper. Maybe they should do what Toyota did and either license Tesla's technology or have Tesla build the drive train and battery like they did for the Toyota electric Rav 4.

Re:$30,000 for a battery and some electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079807)

Yea, the market hath spoken, electric cars were a failure oh about a century ago:

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2010/05/the-status-quo-of-electric-cars-better-batteries-same-range.html ... and now they're back! What is next, the reboot of the ostler?

Re:$30,000 for a battery and some electronics (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 4 months ago | (#47079943)

I'm saving up for a Stanley Steamer [wikipedia.org] !

No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079533)

Chrysler still makes the least reliable of American cars. Fiats, while cute look to me like an Italian version of the Mini, another notoriously unreliable vehicle. They can keep them. I will do him a favor and not buy any of them.

So ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47079543)

... sell bicycles. A zero emission vehicle if ever there was one.

Re:So ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079597)

Not when I'm riding one home from Taco Bell.

Re:So ... (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#47079911)

+1 that made me chuckle.

Don't worry Sergio, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079559)

I wouldn't buy your crap gas car, why would I buy an expensive pile of electric crap?

And snow we see again... (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 4 months ago | (#47079563)

...why Chrysler is doomed.

And as for Fiat - you're doomed as well, because clearly you were stupid enough to buy Chrysler after they already failed miserably in a disastrous merger a few years earlier.

Re:And snow we see again... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079895)

Fiat didn't buy Chrysler because of their sales figures or engineering prowess. They bought Chrysler because it gives them entré into the US car market, which is already brand saturated. Foreign companies usually have to enter the market either at the low- or high-end in order to gain traction. Chrysler is a mid-market producer. More importantly, the US has heavy foreign import quotas. Fiat basically bought Chrysler's domestic factories so they didn't have to build them from scratch.

Game the system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079587)

Why don't these companies just tell the regulators to go fuck themselves and build the shittiest EVs they can. No A/C, no stereo, just the bare minimum piece of shit they can call a car and legally sell as a zero-emissions vehicle. Nobody will buy it, they can claim X% of their car models are zero-emissions - problem solved. Sell it under a different brand name so you don't tarnish your own.

Re:Game the system. (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 4 months ago | (#47079699)

In order for 1% of your sales to be zero-emission vehicles, you have to actually sell some zero-emission vehicles.

Toyota is another EV hater! (2)

technical_maven (2756487) | about 4 months ago | (#47079643)

Toyota despises electric cars and has publicly stated this on many occasions. They plan to sell exactly the number of RAV4EVs that they need to meet CARB requirements (about 2,600) and not one more than that! Toyota believes (foolishly) that the future is hydrogen... It is unfortunate because the Fiat E is actually an excellent electric car! Far better than the gas version, in fact!

Some context (4, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 4 months ago | (#47079691)

California doesn't regulate the prices of electric vehicles: they require that either 1% of vehicle sales be zero-emission, or that the car manufacturer buy zero-emission credits.

Nobody is forcing Fiat to build an electric car, and nobody is forcing them to sell that car at a loss. They have decided to sell an electric car at a loss because they believe the loss incurred will be smaller than the cost of the zero-emission credits, and they're selling it at a loss because they don't believe consumers would buy the car unless it's sold below cost.

Re:Some context (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079937)

they don't believe consumers would buy the car unless it's sold below cost

This isn't a matter of "belief." There is a price schedule in CA that mandates a maximum price for classes of extremely low and zero emission vehicles.

You're wrong. Stop making stuff up.

Re:Some context (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about 4 months ago | (#47080111)

Care to back up your claim that California prevents car companies from selling ZEVs beyond certain prices? Because neither the rebate implementation guide [energycenter.org] nor the California ZEV regulations make any mention of vehicle price, even though they do provide definitions for the vehicle classes. [ca.gov]

Chrysler & Fiat deserve one another (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079713)

One is a terrible american automaker, the other is a terrible italian automaker.

Combine two awful managements together and watch your defects go through the roof.

I work in the industry and work closely with Chrysler personnel. None of them personally own Chrysler products. That's 'none' as in not a single one of them will purchase a Chrysler product with their own money.

Inefficient emission regulation (1, Interesting)

DriedClexler (814907) | about 4 months ago | (#47079747)

And that, my friends, is why CAFE[1] standards are a stupid way of reducing emissions.

Just figure out what the social cost of the emissions is, charge that much through a tax, and let everyone decide on their own whether that trip, or that vehicle, is still worth it.

Not equitable enough? Rebate everyone an equal share of the money raised this way, which protects from consumption losses at low income levels while preserving the incentive to cut back.

Going to complain about "lol wuts the point of collecting it all to refund it"? I guess you missed the fact that emissions are harmful.

[1] Corporate Average Fuel Economy i.e. cars you sell must on average be this fuel efficient.

Re:Inefficient emission regulation (1)

jayveekay (735967) | about 4 months ago | (#47080051)

Agree completely, wish I had mod points.

Re:Inefficient emission regulation (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 4 months ago | (#47080067)

And that, my friends, is why CAFE[1] standards are a stupid way of reducing emissions.

Except this isn't about CAFE at all, but a specific ZEV mandate in CARB standards for the 6 largest automakers.

These rules gave us the GM EV1, Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius, the Chevy Volt, and more. I'd say those vehicles are indications that the regulations are highly effective. You're free to disagree (once you get onto the correct subject), but I think the above list stands on its own.

While there are a number of other "compliance cars" that aren't as noteworthy, they're still helping support ZEV R&D, and amortization of the costs.

A web search for "compliance car" turns up numerous insightful write-ups:

http://www.greencarreports.com... [greencarreports.com]

http://www.autoguide.com/auto-... [autoguide.com]

http://www.usatoday.com/story/... [usatoday.com]

Re:Inefficient emission regulation (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 4 months ago | (#47080107)

Just figure out what the social cost of the emissions is, charge that much through a tax, and let everyone decide on their own whether that trip, or that vehicle, is still worth it.

Yes, the Carbon tax is a great idea. However it can't be effective until Congress passes it -- and Congress is unlikely to pass anything that includes the word "tax" in the title, because taxes are bad, m'kay.

So until Congress gets off its ass and does something useful, CAFE standards are a whole lot better than nothing.

He'll have his work cut out for him (5, Informative)

Steffan (126616) | about 4 months ago | (#47079771)

It's a fantastic car. I've had mine for about nine months and after having owned an number of rather expensive (and inexpensive) cars, this is probably my favorite.

I've never driven a gas-powered Fiat 500, but I imagine the build quality is similar. It's surprisingly comfortable and well built for a car in its price range. I'm pretty particular about the noise levels in my cars and the electric model is reported to have more sound dampening than the standard model; external noise is probably more obvious when there's no engine to mask it. Quiet, fantastic acceleration, and virtually no maintenance. There's a lot to like about this car.

I hope they continue selling them. I've leased mine since the technology changes quickly enough that I expect better range / faster charging, or both within 3-4 years (plus competition from Tesla in that market segment), but if there were no other option I would definitely purchase mine at the end of the lease.

This is my first electric car, but I can say unequivocally that I will never purchase another gas-powered car (unless it's an exotic / sports car). It really is that much of an improvement over internal combustion.*

*For me. Obviously electric cars are not for _everyone_(yet). If you need to haul bales of hay up a mountainside four times a week, buy a truck.

Re:He'll have his work cut out for him (2)

AaronW (33736) | about 4 months ago | (#47080049)

After having bought a Tesla Model S I find it difficult to go back to an internal combustion engine. The responsiveness and smoothness are unparalleled with throw you back in the seat instant acceleration.

Re:He'll have his work cut out for him (4, Interesting)

dreold (827386) | about 4 months ago | (#47080053)

Fellow 500e owner here. Seconded your opinion in all points.

As I wrote in another comment in this thread, I actually did the math, and based on my driving needs cost-wise the 500e is a net savings (including cost of the car) for me (compared to the car I was driving when I decided on the 500e) over five years.

Plus, it is fun to drive. This is subjective, of course.

It's clearly not for everyone and every situation, and even though Fiat offers free rentals at major agencies for those longer trips, I am glad that we have a second (ICE) car in the family.

That much for an Italian car? (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 4 months ago | (#47080109)

If you're spending that much for Fiat you might as well spend a bit more and get a Maserati.

misleading (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | about 4 months ago | (#47079785)

The issue is that in California they have to sell a certain portion of their fleet with zero and low emissions. He is saying that in order to convince people to buy the zero or low emission vehicles in adequate proportion, they have had to subsidize the price by $14,000. He does not expect that they will "sell too many" â" they picked this price because it's the number they expect will sell exactly the right amount.

Re:misleading (1)

Steffan (126616) | about 4 months ago | (#47080005)

I think some of the other posters are probably correct in that a nontrivial portion of that 'subsidy' is accounting for R&D costs. I think every major manufacturer either has or is considering electric cars, so it makes sense to start building them to work out engineering issues. Perhaps it is helpful from an accounting standpoint to attribute this to the requirement to sell these in California. I think even if they weren't, there would be similar development expenses for the inevitable introduction of these cars in another country or state.

Tragedy of the commons (4, Interesting)

GWBasic (900357) | about 4 months ago | (#47079797)

Sadly, environmental issues, and limited resources, isn't something that the free market will handle when left to its own devices. I have no sympathy for automakers that need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Now I want to buy an electric Fiat out of spite!

Re:Tragedy of the commons (0)

jhylkema (545853) | about 4 months ago | (#47079851)

B-but, Ayn Rand told me that the free market is always right?

Re:Tragedy of the commons (2)

GWBasic (900357) | about 4 months ago | (#47079995)

The free market didn't build the roads.

Diesel? (4, Informative)

iserlohn (49556) | about 4 months ago | (#47079799)

The Fiat 500 has also a very very efficient Diesel mult-jet version, which can do 76 MPG (in UK gallons or 63 MPG US gallons). Unfortunately you can't buy that in the US.

Re:Diesel? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 4 months ago | (#47080103)

The Fiat 500 has also a very very efficient Diesel mult-jet version, which can do 76 MPG (in UK gallons or 63 MPG US gallons). Unfortunately you can't buy that in the US.

Since the gasoline Fiat 500 can get 40 US MPG Hwy under stricter standards, and since diesel has a 12% higher energy density per volume and costs more (here), that's really not a terribly impressive number...

Maybe he should build a better car. (5, Insightful)

dbc (135354) | about 4 months ago | (#47079805)

I just dropped my daughter off at the gym. In a 15 minute round-trip drive, I counted 5 Leafs. Nissan isn't trying to stop people from buying their car. Neither is Tesla.

Shoulda thought of that (1)

jhylkema (545853) | about 4 months ago | (#47079809)

BEFORE you took the bailout money. It would have been better, Chrysler, if you hadn't put yourself in the position of needing to be bailed out by the taxpayers twice in 25 years.

Wouldn't be worth it anyways (4, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 months ago | (#47079827)

I have a Fiat 500, the non-electric one. For $17,000, it's a good car. But it's clearly a sub-$20K car - and unless they completely redesign major sections of it that are completely unrelated to the propulsion, they aren't going to be getting it to a be worth $30K even with the value of an electric engine.

Just for one example of what isn't good, the sound system supposedly supports USB. It does, technically, but it does so in the least competent way possible. You would expect it would support folders - like it does for data CDs. It does not. You would expect it to play songs in filename order. It does not. It plays every song on there, in the order of file creation. I noticed in the manual that the entertainment system runs on Windows Phone 7 - I have a very difficult time believing that Windows, in any version, has such broken support for FAT32.

Another example? The seat belt warning alarm activates even if the car is in park, within a second of turning on the car. I've had to get into the habit of buckling up before even turning the key.

The Fiat 500 is a cheap car. I'd say an electric version is worth about $25K (I couldn't actually use one myself - I use street parking, so I literally have nowhere to charge it up).

Tesla got one thing right - because electric cars, for the foreseeable future, are going to add $20K-$30K to the cost of the car, you're better off doing so in high-end cars where that's an extra 10-20%, not double the cost.

Re:Wouldn't be worth it anyways (1)

Steffan (126616) | about 4 months ago | (#47079923)

I have the 500e. I love it, although I'm inclined to agree about it not being competitive in the 30K+ range. It has a lot to gain from the lease / state / federal subsidies currently in effect. I can't really think of anything that annoys me in this car after nine months. I'll probably get another one in 2 or 3 years. (Or a Tesla if there is one in the $30-40K range or if I decide I want a larger car.)

Re:Wouldn't be worth it anyways (1)

dreold (827386) | about 4 months ago | (#47080015)

I have one, too, and love it, too. It is a very fun car and actually more practical as a commuter car than my previous car, a 2009 Audi A4

With the subsidies, the effective price is about 20K which seems right, especially since fun-wise it is more comparable to the fuel-based Abarth version

Backfire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47079905)

I'm moving to California this summer, and since I'll be in an area with terrible public transit, I'll need a car for the first time in years. Given that the economic incentives (especially the tax credits rolled into lease pricing; electric cars basically cost $199.99 a month in California to lease) and the availability of charging stations are unparalleled anywhere else on earth, I figured I'd look at electric cars.

I was going to look at some other manufacturers, but Chrysler just shot way up my list. My partner suggested wanted a (non-electric) Fiat anyway, now we can kill two birds with one stone.

Thanks CEO of Chrysler.

Re:Backfire (1)

dreold (827386) | about 4 months ago | (#47080097)

If you do get an electric car make sure you have the ability to add a 240V outlet/connection at your home so you can fast charge in your driveway/parking spot.

I bought a portable power connection unit and fast charge at home, work and in-laws.

Public charging stations use multiple payment systems and are often occupied.

BTW, welcome to the Golden State, it's a great place to live, in spite of the nay-sayers.

Same strategy back in '94 (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 4 months ago | (#47079959)

This is the same mindset automakers had back in 1994, when the California (CARB) emissions standards were going to (eventually) require a tiny percentage of all cars sold had to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).

Ford's Th!nk and Chrysler's EPIC were piles of crap ("compliance cars") produced just to minimally meet the regulations. GM thought they could one-up them, and produce an actually NICE ZEV that people would WANT, which would then allow them to sell MORE conventional vehicles, which is where the infamous EV1 came from. Toyota had a similar mindset as GM, but couldn't compete on ZEVs, and invented their Prius as an alternative to meet the standards.

The successful court challenges to the CARB rules set back ZEVs by two decades, and we're repeating history again, today. GM makes a nice ZEV (with some inspiration from Tesla and Toyota this time), while Ford and Chrysler sell crap ZEVs they have to give away, and Toyota doubles-down on their Prius with longer range and plug-in capabilities.

Nissan is the only surprise, being quite competitive this time around, while their previous Altra attempt, despite pioneering lithium-ion battery EVs, wasn't noteworthy at the time.

http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_ve... [ucsusa.org]

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