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Robert Zehner
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Hi folks, back for a final wrap-up on my 500e lease return experience. After a lot of back and forth on the wear and tear warranty, I learned that Capitol Fiat never activated the policy on my car, even though I paid for it. I had already badgered Chrysler Finance to remove the charge for the tire replacement from my end-of-lease bill, so I asked Capitol to reimburse me for the warranty cost. I got the check in the mail a couple of weeks ago.

The other issue is that I kept getting renewal notices from CA DMV. After a lot of research, it turns out that the car doesn't transfer out of your name until it gets re-sold. As of a week ago, my car was still sitting on the lot at McKevitt in Berkeley, so I guess I just have to wait until they sell it ...

The penultimate update on my Fiat lease: I have been chasing the mythical wear and tear warranty for a month now. Chrysler Capital directed me to the warranty supplier, who told me that they have no record of a policy for my VIN. I then called back the folks at Chrysler Capital Allegiance, and spoke with a very nice gentleman who, after hearing my story, decided to waive the charge for my tires. So -- that's another route that people might consider, it seems like the phone support people have some leeway to reverse fees.

Now I'm on to two more topics: first, chasing the dealer to find out if they actually ever filed for the insurance, and if not, giving me my money back; and second, making sure that they've sent the liability release to CA DMV, who are sending me delinquency notices for my registration. Sigh.

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Found my 500e up for sale in Berkeley! Note - the pic in the listing is NOT of my car, mine has the black air dam.

Some nuggets of information on the lease return: it was pretty much painless. I stopped in at Capitol Fiat, where they used a cell phone app to scan my VIN, and then did a quick walk-around of the car to check for any damage and verify that all the pieces were there (EVSE, inflator/patch kit, TomTom). The dealership rep then printed out a transfer form that I signed, he made me a copy, I handed over the keys, and that was that. I'm expecting to get a bill from the leasing company for the missing key, as well as the disposition fee, but nobody seems to know who will take care of crediting my account for the cost of the worn-out tires against my wear-and-tear warranty.

I also had some time to chat with one of the Fiat salespeople:

* All of the lease returns go to auction. Right now, there are a relative handful, but by year-end, there will be "thousands".

* Capitol Fiat buys some of the lease returns at auction to sell on their lot, they are turning out to be popular (they had a 2014 e-sport for $10k when I was there).

* Many of the auctioned lease returns are going to out-of-state dealers who have customers interested in the car. Fiat is apparently now making the e service training course available nationwide via Internet.

Welp, the Fiat 500e party is over for me. I returned my 2013 yesterday to Capitol Fiat in San Jose, same place I picked it up just three years ago.I will always remember this fun, quirky, and for me reliable little car, and all the adventures we had together.

* Our first (only?) 500e owners' meet-up in Saratoga with +Pam Araki, +Tom Donohue, +Toréa Rodriguez, +Barry Lacter, Jamie Moore and a few others -- followed by a spirited run up Route 9 and Skyline to Alice's with my wife and 2 kids in the car.

* A weekend trip from Los Gatos to Monterey with my ever-patient wife, which included a two-hour detour to Costco so that we could park and charge at the neighboring Monterey Fiat dealership.

* A 2AM drive home from Sky Park at SFO to Los Gatos, when I'd accidentally left the charging timer on and thus hadn't been recharged by the parking valet. I made it all the way home on 30% charge by cruising down El Camino at 25 mph and timing all the lights.

* Peeling out on turns and at stoplights pretty much everywhere

I'm not planning to leave the group, but I'm sure my participation will go way down now that I'm not an owner any more - as it should be.

My new ride: a 2016 i3 REX that I picked up from Weatherford BMW in Berkeley last Friday. It's a really different car from the Fiat, and the range extender is ... interesting. But that's a story for another time.

Happy motoring, folks!

Anyone have any luck with getting a replacement key made for their 500e? I've ordered a used key fob and key blank off of EBay, just need to get the key cut and the remote re-programmed ...

It's hard to believe that my time with the 500e is coming to an end! I called Chrysler today and confirmed that I have just 37 days left until I have to return the car. Also, just yesterday I went to test drive a VW e-Golf -- it's quite a bit more luxurious and spacious, though it doesn't feel quite as fast or nimble as the Fiat. Having the DC fast charge will be a nice touch for those times when I really need to make a long trip, like a round trip from Sunnyvale to SF without having to hypermile. I think that's the next car for me.

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I had an opportunity to grab some photos of a European charging station today, with a Mitsubishi SUV plugged in. Note that the station doesn't have a captive cable -- drivers bring their own cables, and plug into a standardized "Mennekes" connector on the charging station. This particular EV had what looks like a standard J1772 charging connector, so this same setup should work for a 500e, if someone were to ship one over to Europe...
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My wife and I test drove the Tesla Model X on Monday. Super cool car -- the Falcon Wing doors are awesome, the windshield curves up over your head so you feel like you are piloting a spaceship, and of course it goes like stink. My wife's comments: not enough cup holders, no seat back pockets for storage, and no rear seat entertainment system = two really unhappy kids in the back.

Still mulling it over. I will need something to drive when I have to turn in the keys for my 500e in August ...

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The question was raised the other day as to whether the 500e uses "shore power" for pre-conditioning, or whether it draws down the battery.

Here's a charging profile for my car this evening on a ChargePoint EVSE. On the left, the car charged fully to 100%, then tapered down to 0A. On the right, I turned on the preconditioning using the app, and the power spike coincides with the turn-on of the heater. Note that the power draw is at the same peak as during charging, meaning that the pre-conditioning is pulling at least that much power, probably more.

The second peak continues for about 5 minutes after the pre-conditioning stops (10 minutes), and then tapers off again -- presumably the battery is drained just a little, and can take a little more charge (the indicator on the app dropped down to 99%, but as we all know, it's not updated continuously).

Given this, it looks clear to me that the car will pull from the mains power during pre-conditioning, if it is plugged in.

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