The range is not great, but Fiat offers free rentals at major agencies for three years for long trips.
As a daily driver for the average commute it is totally sufficient (and saves the owner money, considering the incentives in place)
I bought a portable power connection unit and fast charge at home, work and in-laws.
Public charging stations use multiple payment systems and are often occupied.
BTW, welcome to the Golden State, it's a great place to live, in spite of the nay-sayers.
As I wrote in another comment in this thread, I actually did the math, and based on my driving needs cost-wise the 500e is a net savings (including cost of the car) for me (compared to the car I was driving when I decided on the 500e) over five years.
Plus, it is fun to drive. This is subjective, of course.
It's clearly not for everyone and every situation, and even though Fiat offers free rentals at major agencies for those longer trips, I am glad that we have a second (ICE) car in the family.
With the subsidies, the effective price is about 20K which seems right, especially since fun-wise it is more comparable to the fuel-based Abarth version
The price difference is $15350
You forget the government incentives. $2,500 from the State of California; $7,500 from the federal government and $2,000 from FIAT themselves.
The effective difference is is then $3,350.
I actually did my homework, and the result was that for my old car (Audi A4, 25 mpg avg.) at 4.29-4.49 per gallon (Premium Fuel) the savings with the FIAT 500e for my daily commute were such that with the incentives, the rest of the car cost amortizes in about 5 years.
Plus the car is fun to drive.
Electric vehicles are actually best in stop-and-go situations which is why I altered my commute to include a bit more surface street (incidentally this also allows for completing errands on the way to or from work in a more time efficient manner). This bit of detour via surface streets adds maybe 10 min to my drive and allows me to arrive home after a full roundtrip with no recharge with more than 25% charge left.
However: I admittedly do have an advantage to most people as my work has a 30A 240V outlet close to the parking lot that I can plug my portable charging station into (a Level 2 device); this will top me up in 1.5 hours, i.e. I leave work with a full charge, thus massively increasing the vehicles utility on the way home.
For me the electric vehicle was a simple cost-benefit calculation. With government subsides and incentives, it will have cost the same to purchase as the gas powered version and operating costs are significantly lower. Based on my commute and my previous car, I estimate that in 5 years I will have saved enough money in gas and maintenance vs electricity to fully pay for the vehicle (in compariosn to have kept my current car)
We do have a second gas-powered vehicle and Fiat gave me 12 free rental days at major rental car companies for free for 3 years, so that covers longer trips.
As others have said, I think for many people in urban environment an electric commuter car could work, for more rural place snot so much.
The biggest issue will be charging when you need to if you don't own your home or have to streetpark. I happen to be lucky enough to be able to charge at 240V at home, work and at various family in the area.
Public charging stations are hit and miss, many different payment systems (I am a member of 3) and often occupied (by vehicles charging or ICE vehicles blocking the spot) and sometimes non-functional. Literally, YMMV. It works for me.
How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."