Similar to what BMW is doing with their i3 electric vehicle, Fiat will be offering a free loaner gasoline powered vehicle to owners of the Fiat 500e electric vehicle. 500e buyers get to use a rental vehicle up to 12 days a year for free from a national auto rental chain under a program Fiat is calling ePass. The free rentals are to help buyers overcome the range anxiety symptoms that may keep them from purchasing the 500e – now when they do want to take a long trip, they can simply rent a gasoline vehicle for free.
The Fiat 500e apparently has an 87 mile range, according to Tim Kuniskis, head of the Fiat brand in North America. “The whole thing goes back to how the car is being positioned,” Kuniskis said. “We’re positioning it to be another 500; a viable alternative to the current 500 to expand the reach of the electric car.”
The idea of the free rentals came out of a meeting on how to overcome the marketing issues with an electric car. Kuniskis said “We know we’ve got a great car, but I still can’t get a guy from New York to visit his grandma for Easter.”
The rental program will extend through the first 3 years of ownership, but customers are responsible for any insurance or additional charges with the rental company when renting the loaner vehicle.
The Fiat 500e first debuted in LA in November 2012 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and Fiat expects it to be in 25 California dealerships this summer. Sales will initially be limited to residents in California.
Fiat will release the 500e price on April 13.