I think some of the other posters are probably correct in that a nontrivial portion of that 'subsidy' is accounting for R&D costs. I think every major manufacturer either has or is considering electric cars, so it makes sense to start building them to work out engineering issues. Perhaps it is helpful from an accounting standpoint to attribute this to the requirement to sell these in California. I think even if they weren't, there would be similar development expenses for the inevitable introduction of these cars in another country or state.
Currently in CA (the only state in which they're sold, until they start in Oregon later this year), there is a $2,500 rebate from the state in addition to a $7,500 tax credit from the Federal government.
I have the 500e. I love it, although I'm inclined to agree about it not being competitive in the 30K+ range. It has a lot to gain from the lease / state / federal subsidies currently in effect. I can't really think of anything that annoys me in this car after nine months. I'll probably get another one in 2 or 3 years. (Or a Tesla if there is one in the $30-40K range or if I decide I want a larger car.)
It may not have a huge range (I get ~ 100 miles on full charge), but it is absolutely a serious attempt at an electric car. It appears to be well-engineered, and not an afterthought of tacked-on parts. It is based on the same chassis as the gas-powered Fiat. Doubtless it could be even more efficient if they were to optimize it more for the drivetrain it has.
I think the engineers did a commendable job of creating a practical electric car within their budget / time / materials constraints. Pathetic it absolutely is not. In my opinion, until Tesla takes on this market segment, there is nothing that will touch it.
I do find it curious that Marchionne is publicly trying to dissuade people from purchasing it. A weird reverse-psychology attempt?
It's a fantastic car. I've had mine for about nine months and after having owned an number of rather expensive (and inexpensive) cars, this is probably my favorite.
I've never driven a gas-powered Fiat 500, but I imagine the build quality is similar. It's surprisingly comfortable and well built for a car in its price range. I'm pretty particular about the noise levels in my cars and the electric model is reported to have more sound dampening than the standard model; external noise is probably more obvious when there's no engine to mask it. Quiet, fantastic acceleration, and virtually no maintenance. There's a lot to like about this car.
I hope they continue selling them. I've leased mine since the technology changes quickly enough that I expect better range / faster charging, or both within 3-4 years (plus competition from Tesla in that market segment), but if there were no other option I would definitely purchase mine at the end of the lease.
This is my first electric car, but I can say unequivocally that I will never purchase another gas-powered car (unless it's an exotic / sports car). It really is that much of an improvement over internal combustion.*
*For me. Obviously electric cars are not for _everyone_(yet). If you need to haul bales of hay up a mountainside four times a week, buy a truck.
One thing missed in all of this is that we are close (relatively speaking) to being able to grow a number of organs. It's entirely likely that this entire debate will a be a footnote in a future wikipedia article.
By the time infrastructure to support organ sales, the associated legislation, and oversight could be put in place, we would probably be well on the way to therapeutic use of many these advances. In the meantime, it could detract from funding and research efforts if there were an inexpensive (in a strictly financial sense) alternative to synthetic organs, which will likely be expensive initially.
After a number of years in the desolate wasteland that is 1080P, we are finally at a convergence of the television and monitor markets with 4K televisions. Based on the ability of Seiki to sell a 4K 39" panel for less the $500, it's likely that 2014 will usher in a series of relatively-inexpensive monitors delivering this resolution. Similar 1080p panels are selling for $300, and since the manufacturing isn't significantly more difficult, it's likely that in 12-18 months that pricepoint will be reached for 4K monitors as well.
Worth noting - the Seiki does all of this while including a remote, tuners, and multiple connectors unnecessary for strictly computer-use monitor. It's likely the costs (and prices) could drop even more in that sort of an implementation given enough volume. (Since the TV market is much bigger it may still make sense to make a one-size-fits-all model)
I purchased the 4K 39" Seiki TV about two weeks ago for use as a monitor. The 30Hz refresh rate is lower than I would like, but for software dev, still images, and watching the tiny amount of 4K video content it is completely fine. 39" is a little bit larger than I would have normally considered, but it offers a nice amount of screen real estate (less than 2 30" monitors though) and slightly higher dot pitch than a standard 2560x1600 30" display.
tl;dr It's completely worthwhile to get a 4K display now at this price.
The government's number one tool in the fight against terrorism.
The government's number one tool in the fight against citizens
Hey, AC, even if your're not ready to go the full 'counseling' step, consider calling one of the hotlines for 'just a chat'. A five minute committment is worthwhile to just be able to talk to someone who doesn't know you and won't judge you.
Software frees you!
Video / music copyright enforcement efforts will probably pale in comparison to those attempted for the duplication and sharing of physical objects / designs.
Actually, I believe that 'Mono' comes from the word for 'Monkey'
You may wish to try Minefield, (4.0 beta) if you can stomach using a beta. I've actually been using the nightlies for months and they're generally stable. You may want to try a release beta, however. (4.0b6 is good). There are 64-bit linux, Mac, and Windows versions.
Keep in mind that it's a beta, though and not intended for general consumption quite yet.
Because I hate Flash, I have a separate Firefox profile specifically for using the plugin. (Yes, there are other ways to block flash, but that isn't helpful if you're trying to find which of 200 tabs started autoplaying on startup)