Fiat 500e - end of lease weirdness!

I have a 2014 Fiat 500e (yes, the electric one that’s only available in CA and OR) and the lease comes to an end in mid-March.

My challenge is that I am in the queue for a Tesla Model 3 which I’m hoping to take delivery of in early 2018. So I have a 12 month gap I need to cover.

I was hoping Chrysler Financial might extend my lease for a year but they won’t do that. They tell me my only options are to return the car or buy it from them for $24,000!

This is ludicrous. 2014 Fiat 500es are widely available from dealers up and down CA for $8-9000.

So what do I do? I love my Fiat and would gladly buy it for a reasonable price, but not $24,000! But the leasing company won’t negotiate.

Yes, I could go buy another pre-owned 500e but I want my Fiat - I know its history (which is flawless).

So two questions:

a) why won’t Chrysler Financial sell me the car at a reasonable price?
b) if I turn the car back in, what will Chrysler Financial do with it? Presumably it goes to a local dealer for resale - but how do I find out which one?

Appreciate any help you can offer - thanks!

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(B) you can get the carfax to know when/where it’s been to auction and then keep googling the VIN to see if any dealer’s website has it.

They’re not under any obligation to offer the back to you at a reasonable cost. When the lease was signed, there was a stated residual value for the car. Yeah, it probably doesn’t make sense, but who knows. There’s probably some complicated tax loss loophole they can claim by taking the car back and reselling it at auction for only $5000.

I was/am in the same boat as you. I found a I3 on Swaplease, 15 month deal for just a little more than I was paying for my Fiat. I was so excited to get rid of my Fiat after 3 years. I had no emotional attachment at all. And i’m sure you hear all the talk about Tesla always late on their deadlines. I think we’re being very optimistic to get then in early 2018

I think you should ditch the 500e and do a 12mo lease through BMW FS on a retired loaner/demo with less than 5k miles. Your payment is likely to be in the mid 300s for a lightly equipped BMW/MINI (~$1200 drive-off) and you get a really comfortable car while you wait for the Tesla. You’ll have to go back to using gas for a while, but there are some e-drive MINIs and BMWs occasionally available, that will help you compromise on the powertrain selection issue. Enjoy!

u should return the car and get a mini for 12 months

Why would they negotiate? Then everyone will try. Then set a precedent, then you discriminated against me because you gave that guy lower price. Then you get Consumer Protection Bureau investigating you, offering a settlement on billions of dollars. Man its a slippery slope.

Why don’t you just track the VIN and then just rebuy the car at market value wherever it pops up?

Why don’t you just track the VIN and then just rebuy the car at market value wherever it pops up?

Yes, that’s my plan and I can also track the car’s whereabouts via the iPhone app. However, info from the Fiat 500 owners group forum is that there is a real glut of these cars coming off lease in CA and it’s killing Fiat’s ability to sell new cars - so Fiat is shipping many of these ex-lease cars out of state as soon as they come back.

Might just be easier for me to go buy one for myself. It wouldn’t be my car but it’s a decent alternative. Certainly tide me over until I get my Tesla 3.

So…an update:

Normally at the end of your lease, you would return your car to the dealer you bought it from. However, my dealer is no longer in business (it appears that Fiat dealers in the Bay Area are dropping like flies).

So I keep asking Chrysler Capital what I should do with my car and they can’t tell me. They say they are trying to find a dealer who will take it (but that’s going to be hard because there’s a glut of off-lease Fiat 500es out there.

So…I just approached a local Fiat dealer and explained my situation. I suggested he call Chrysler Capital and offer to buy my car. I will then go along the next day and buy it from him. I’ll pay him more than he paid for it, so he gets to make a quick buck with zero hassle.

He’s thinking about it.

Two questions:

a) any reason why this idea should not work?

b) how can I find how much he paid for it? How much should I give him for doing this for me?


Not a bad idea at all. If 500e cars are listed at lets say 15k i would give him 13.5k as thats what you would pay for it if you negotiated at another dealer for another used 500e.

I thought you don’t have to return leased cars to the dealer you got it from, as long as it goes back to same brand dealer. Anyway, I can see it not working because the dealer has to rely on your word that you’re actually going to buy it back from them. I’m just guessing, but I predict going that route is going to cost you more than just buying another used 500e. I’m sure you have good reasons, but if I were in your position I wouldn’t get caught up on getting back your particular 500e. Especially if you know that you’re just holding out 1-2yrs for Model 3. Are you concerned about mechanical issues with a used 500e, or how well the interior was taken care of? Cause it’s if it’s the first issue, EV’s have significantly less moving parts than a gas car, so there’s less likely to go wrong.

This works with BMW dealers. Very hard to pull off since the dealer usually wants to make a SERIOUS profit off taking a lease return but it might be doable.

You have to make it worth their time but on the same hand you want to pay market price or lower. These cars are not going up in value any time soon so don’t saddle yourself with a brick that will depreciate into the ground by the time the Tesla is delivered.

I see plenty of 2013/14 500e going for around ~$6k in SouthCal. Buy it and drive for a year, and I think you can still get most of your investment back.

Bump. What did you end up doing?

Thanks for the reminder…so here’s how it panned out.

First of all, Fiat would not negotiate at all on the buyout price. It would appear that instead of offering a reasonable number (which I would have paid), they prefer to take a loss for tax reasons.

So then I looked into buying an ex-lease 500e - plenty of them available but here in NorCal, the going rate is $8-10K for a nice one (I hear you can find them much cheaper in SoCal)

So then looked into leasing a new 500e - and I was staggered by the lease deals on offer. I ended up getting one for $2500 down (effectively zero down when the CA state rebate comes through) and $115/month + tax.

My total price over 3 years will be about $4K - too good to turn down. Jeez, my phone costs me more than that!

The only downside is that when my Tesla Model 3 comes along, I will be stuck with an extra car. But my wife can use it as a runaround and it’s costing me virtually nothing so it’s OK.

Crazy situation but there you go…!

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Did you try buying your own car after returning it?

In the end, no.

People on this forum told me that end of lease Fiats go to dealer-only auctions and then could end up anywhere. So it all just seemed like too much hassle.

Plus that $115/month lease on the new ones was just too good (I was paying $240/mo on my 2014 car)

Thanks for the follow up. We’re in the same position, wanting our vehicle but not about to pay the buy-out with them going so cheaply. Love ours, had only one problem which was fixed and was wondering all the same things you did. New lease it is then and hope we get a good one.

Where did you find the $115/lease deal and how much did you end up putting down? I live in Oregon where there’s one dealer who isn’t willing to go lower on leases. I am contemplating flying down and shipping it back up to get the deal…