Fiat may be the first car company in history that doesn’t want you to buy its cars.
At least not one of them: the electric 500e.
Speaking before a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne told the audience, "I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000," Reuters reports.
The battery-powered car was developed to meet a California mandate for electric car sales. It’s a high-tech, low volume subcompact with a starting price of $32,650, but even that’s not enough to break even. When the car launched in 2013, Marchionne pegged the loss at $10,000 per car.
"I will sell the (minimum) of what I need to sell and not one more," Marchionne said.
If they can’t sell enough electric cars in California themselves, automakers have to buy credits from other companies, or face hefty fines.
The 500e has an efficiency rating equivalent to 122 mpg in the city, and a range of 87 miles per charge. The peppy little runabout has gotten universally rave reviews thanks to its nimble handling. Its currently only sold in California.
Speaking more broadly about electric cars, he added that "if we just build those vehicles, we'll be back asking ... in Washington for a second bailout because we'll be bankrupt."
Instead, he’s hoping future efficiency rules set a bar and let car companies figure out how to clear it, rather than dictating sales of particular types of vehicles.
The 500e is currently the only battery-powered car in Chrysler’s entire lineup, but the company recently revealed plans to add several hybrids in the coming years, and that they could make up a majority of the cars it sells by 2025, when a federal fuel efficiency standard of 54.5 mpg goes into effect.