Chrysler is to produce the Fiat 500 as an electric vehicle in the US market, the company confirmed March 22.

The firm intends to begin production of the model in 2012, with a "competitive" pricing similar to that of other electric vehicles in the market. The economical gas-powered Fiat 500, already a departure for the brand behind gas-guzzling Ram, Jeep and Dodge, is set to go on sale in the US later this year.

The vehicle represents the determination of Chrysler to work with its Italian parent company Fiat to turn around its fortunes in the US. Last year, the company announced that it would incorporate 13 Fiat-designed models by 2013, ending production of six to eight underperforming models and revamping all 12 models it intends to keep by 2012.

"The alliance with Fiat presented new opportunities to merge Chrysler Group engineering knowledge with new platforms and the Fiat 500EV is an outstanding example of our efforts," said Scott Kunselman, engineering boss at the Chrysler Group. "The Fiat 500 is a small, lightweight platform perfect for integrating electric-vehicle technology."

Chrysler and Fiat first debuted a concept version of the 500 EV at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, although it did not announce plans to produce the vehicle. At the show, car-buying site described the gas version of the Fiat 500 as a car "that could save Detroit," when it hits showrooms.

In 2008, Chrysler announced that it would sell an electric vehicle by 2010, before dropping the plans in the wake of its financial meltdown last year. It now joins fellow Detroit giants Ford and General Motors in the electric arena.


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