It’s been a while since… My impressions of the Fiat 500e

As an Electric Vehicle enthusiast, there is NO PLACE better to live than California to have early access to and choices in electric vehicles.

I was never much of a car guy until my ActiveE. I enjoyed driving and have been quite loyal to Honda and BMW.

So, it’s rather strange for me to have fallen for the Fiat 500e. But I did.

It’s a fun little ride. It’s quick and nimble. I would imagine that it can be driven in LA traffic, weaving in and out of lanes.

Needless to say, I was NOT disappointed. In fact I have so many pictures, let me just refer you to my flickr set on the Fiat 500e.

Well, maybe some select few pictures:



I really liked the push button shifter… Not unlike a Tesla Roadster 2.x.


I was lucky enough to try out both of the ones that were delivered to Ontario and one of the ones delivered at Glendale Fiat.



So, how did it drive?

It was fun. Having had the opportunity to drive multiple EVs is one of the benefits of living in California. I test drove these vehicles about a month ago and supposedly, dealers were offering $199 lease on them for three years.

Not that I ever met a dealer who offered that deal. Apparently, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield wrote the reasons that this was not so (weeks after I test drove the vehicles) and the demand for this car was so high that thee dealers were just pocketing the incentives.

Additionally, it has been my experience SINCE the publication of that article that dealers that did get the car in are selling the cars about $3,000 over MSRP for a “Marketing Adjustment”. Also known as supply and demand when the demand for a vehicle is high.

Now, have we found the potential replacement for the ActiveE. I have to say that I was tempted, but each decision for items this large requires that my better half participates (the key to a LONG and HAPPY marriage) and she does not like the aesthetics. In the end, if the price were still at $199 a month, I might have been able to convince her, alas. It wasn’t. So, I had my fun driving the dealerships’ test models and I got to try out a black, white, and orange 500e and they all were fun. I don’t think any of them were kitted out any better (in terms of performance) but the dealership in Ontario gets the kudos for the more interesting route for the test drive. Easy access to the freeways also gives a great test drive for this reviewer as well.

If you don’t mind paying up for it. It IS WORTH IT! I don’t understand why Fiat doesn’t just sell the 500e. I actually drove an ICE 500 the previous week on a trip to New York City to Long Island and back and the performance is SO IMPROVED in the 500e. Kudos on the 500e engineers for building a fun, nimble, quick EV that is worth every penny (including the Marketing Adjustment!)

So, the i3 was finally launched…

BMW i, the sub-brand “Born Electric” that I’ve been flying all over the world to visit in both New York and London had a simultaneous three city simulcast launch of the i3 on Youtube that included Beijing to the aforementioned New York and London to its production.

It was attended by some of the automotive press, though not by one of my favorite EV writers and primary host to one of my favorite weekly video podcasts, Transport Evolved, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield nor by respected EV advocate Chelsea Sexton. Not many of the seven hundred other Active E Electronuts got in with the exception of Tom Moloughney. I am sure Tom did a great job representing the rest of us, as he always does. [Update 4:55pm Pacific – Tom’s i3 blogpost pics]

I was hoping to get to the event, however, after watching it at the wee hours of 5:25 am Pacific time, I’m glad I didn’t. Nothing earth shattering about the announcement. BMW i has done a good job of previously communicating everything else about the car that the big “to do” was really, eh… Or since I’m writing this on the Internet. Meh.

Nikki wrote this on Twitter:

Frankly, I think that BMW i did fine, considering its cultural roots at BMW. The fact that BMW had the foresight to set up a different sub-brand in BMW i to pursue electrification, etc. is commendable but it still belabors the challenge it faces inherent to its culture (both as a major producer of ICE vehicles AND being German.) Tesla is borne of the Silicon Valley. Tesla does not have the legacy of ICE and decades of automotive culture to shackle itself to. BMW i does. It’s a good start at trying to re-make its parent into the rEVolution. I’ve been relatively happy with the service that I get as an Active E Electronut, but can’t say that I get that much more than being a regular BMW owner.

The holistic approach that BMW i proposes in its 360 Electric program seems intriguing, the GPS that directs a person to take public transportation, or the loaner ICE fleet for longer drives, or any of the other “enhancements” does take into account the concept of having an 80-100 mile EV range vehicle and building upon an external infrastructure to integrate it into. At the end of the day, I’m a Southern California driver, and it still won’t get me out of my car. I want my car to get me from point A to point B and don’t really care to use most of these enhancements. I already run a hybrid garage, so that other stuff sounds cool, but who knows if I’ll end up using it.

I just wonder if this announcement of the i3 is the start of getting Active E Electronuts ignored. It’s been over a week and change since the Active E forum has been operational. And I’m wondering if it’s a sign of things to come. The @BMWiUSA Twitter feed has thanked me for being patient, but seeing that these i3 announcements would’ve been ideal times to have discussions going on in those forums make me wonder whether it’s time for me to join FB and just see what the Active E FB crowd thinks. I’d like to hear what my fellow Electronuts are thinking as well.  I see @Acevedo_Airton tweets, but wonder what others are thinking.  I’m hoping for a flurry of posts on the blogs of fellow Electronuts, specifically, Mr. BMW, Gerald Belton, with as much BMW experience as he has, I’d like to hear what he thinks of the i3!

As for the presentation itself, it is a tell-tale sign when the production of the i3 launch features a bunch of BMW Board Members that frankly I would not be able to tell from a crowd versus Tesla’s announcements with Tony Stark Elon Musk. Having been lucky enough to attend the Tesla Model S Battery Swap event (which I suppose I should’ve posted on my blog, but here’s some pictures on Flickr), I can compare the productions head to head and I’m glad I didn’t spend any money flying to the bore that was the early morning announcement of the i3. Twitter and others were abuzz about the Battery Swap event. It was a jeans and nice shirt event with a club-like atmosphere and flair and the i3 event was staged and button down.

All these folks comparing the i3 with the Model S are missing the point.  BMW i should’ve made the aesthetics of the i3 closer to the BMW design and gone after the space abdicated by Tesla abandoning the 40kwh Model S (not counting the Toyota RAV4 EV 2nd Gen as that vehicle here.).  The i3 Coupe concept looks sleeker than the regular i3, but they really need better aesthetics for traditional BMW drivers to go for it.

All I have to say is that it was a good thing that I had to take the better half for an early morning flight out of LAX today, otherwise I would be cranky for waking up early for a live simulcast that was a whole lot of “meh”. And I’m a BIG BMW fan!

[The following was added 4:55pm Pacific]

So, it looks like it was a LOT more hands on than the initial presentation that we saw online approximately 12 hours ago.

Now, I’m jealous.  Not as jealous as I would’ve been had folks been able to drive the darn cars.  But actually check it out and get in and sit in the car as wrll as see the frunk (front trunk) and finally open the back to see the space in the car.  It does look spacious, especially compared to the Active E.


Still, the presentation itself still rated the same meh as earlier, but the after presentation stuff ranked higher for me. Especially since the Tesla event only allowed attendees to look, but not touch the Model X.

[end additional content]