Car-share services such as Car2Go and ZipCar appeal to city dwellers as a cheap and convenient way to get around. For about 50 cents a minute, a member can tool around in a Mercedes-Benz GLA250 that, frankly, probably smells like an ashtray since the sharing economy is a reminder that our fellow Earth-dwellers are filthy human beings.
Enter a used Fiat 500, which might actually cost less than a car-share. (With many, many caveats, that is.)
A decent-condition, clean title Fiat 500 costs as little as $4,000 on Autotrader, while ones with mismatched paint panels and other signs of a questionable history can be had for as little as half that. That makes a used 500 about the cheapest way to get new-car conveniences and safety features. Even the earliest 2012 500s left the factory in Mexico bound for trendy Americans with power windows and locks, air conditioning, six airbags and Bluetooth connectivity. They sold fairly well, at least initially. During Fiat’s first full calendar year in the modern era, nearly 44,000 500s zipped out of showrooms.
They were cheap then and they’re cheaper now.
Let’s do some math. This 2012 500 is on offer for just $3,700 from a dealer in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Its blue paint appears uniform, its gray cloth interior is holding up well, and it has an enthusiast-friendly five-speed manual gearbox. Its Carfax shows two D.C.-area owners and evidence of service history. At first glance, it’s a decent little 500, and there are plenty more like it on Autotrader.
Renting a Car2Go Mercedes costs about $20 per hour, which means it will take about 185 hours to equal the pre-tax price of that blue Fiat. For a heavy car-share user, that may not even take an entire year!
Clearly, everyone should be buying used Fiat 500s instead of throwing away money!
Well, not so fast. Even though it’s small — about 140 inches separate its bumpers — the 500 is not quite as convenient as the park-it-and-forget-it model that has made car-sharing a success in some congested areas. Additionally, car-share fees account for insurance, maintenance and registration, which will add up on a privately-owned car. A used Fiat 500 is not likely a low-maintenance choice, either. There’s a reason they’re cheap.
Still, if you’re an occasional-use driver who thought car ownership was out of the question due to its high initial costs, a Fiat 500 might be in your future. Just remember that you’ll have to clean up for yourself. Find a Fiat 500 for sale