Used Fiat 500e electric cars outside California: is service an issue for buyers?

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2017 Fiat 500e

2017 Fiat 500e

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So you've always wanted to drive a battery-electric car, but you're a frugal and sensible shopper who's noticed that prices of used electric cars are remarkably low.

And you always through the Fiat 500 was kind of interesting; the idea of a tiny three-door all-electric hatchback appealed to you.

Even if you don't live in California or Oregon, the only states where the Fiat 500e electric car was sold, it's easy for you to find one online and have it shipped to you.

DON'T MISS: Fiat 500e electric cars recalled to fix software glitch (Jun 2016)

That's all well and good, and it appears dozens of electric-car fans have done just that. But what about servicing those Fiat 500e cars far from their home base on the West Coast?

What happens if you're in, say, Atlanta or Chicago or Minneapolis or upstate New York—and the electric Fiat breaks down or starts flashing warning lights? What then?

Recent online postings by used Fiat 500e owners all over the U.S. have indicated some are having trouble finding dealers to service their used electric cars.

2017 Fiat 500e

2017 Fiat 500e

Enlarge Photo

So we decided to ask Fiat Chrysler Automobiles about servicing a 500e outside California and Oregon

FCA's Angela Bianchi did some checking with the company's operations team, and came back with the answer.

"Dealers nationwide were able to get certified to service 500e models," she wrote—meaning that while not every Fiat dealer nationwide is capable of servicing a 500e, some of them outside California and Oregon can do so.

CHECK OUT: Fiat 500e Electric Car Software Issue Leads To Fourth Recall (Jun 2015)

To find those dealers, Bianchi continued, used 500e shoppers should go to the Fiat USA website and look for the dropdown menu on the "Owners" link.

The very last option on that menu is "Service My 500e," which links out to a .PDF document showing the full list of dealers nationwide who are able to service electric Fiats.

Sorted by state, that list contains 80 dealers as of January 31, all of them outside California and Oregon.

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

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FCA has always refused to break out sales figures for the electric 500 from overall Fiat 500 totals, but it's estimated that roughly 19,000 have been sold over its five-year life to date.

It's one of two survivors among the five original "compliance cars" launched by carmakers to meet California's 2012 through 2017 zero-emission vehicle sales mandate, and by far the highest-selling.

The other survivor is the Ford Focus Electric, launched as a 2012 model, which received a battery-capacity upgrade and added fast charging for the 2017 model year.

CHECK OUT: 2013 Fiat 500e Electric Car: First Drive (Apr 2013)

Whether FCA makes any significant upgrades to the Fiat 500e for 2018 remains to be seen: Specs for the 2018 Fiat 500e haven't yet been released.

We'd expect them to arrive sometime in the next few weeks, but the 2017 model carried an EPA-rated range of 84 miles.

That's a slight reduction on the 87-mile rating it received when it launched as a 2013 model, but it's due to minor adjustments in the EPA testing cycles made for the 2017 model year.

 
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