March 22, 2010 / 1:59 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Chrysler to bring Fiat 500 electric to U.S.

* Chrysler to have all-electric small car in 2012

* Gasoline-powered Fiat 500 in U.S. by late 2010

* Development of 2011 Ram hybrid pickup shelved (Adds details on Nissan Leaf, background on Chrysler)

DETROIT, March 22 (Reuters) - Chrysler will introduce an all-electric Fiat 500 to the U.S. market in 2012 and drop plans to develop a hybrid version of the 2011 Ram pickup truck, the automaker said on Monday.

The electric Fiat 500 will follow the gasoline-powered version of the compact car into the U.S. market and arrive in showrooms at least a year after the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which is to debut in December 2010.

Chrysler is not ready to say when in 2012 the Fiat 500EV will be at U.S. dealerships, how much it will cost or estimate its range on a full electric charge.

Chrysler is counting on the gasoline-powered 500 city car, slated for U.S. showrooms at the end of 2010, and other upcoming fuel-efficient vehicles to revive its aging, truck-heavy lineup and steer the struggling company toward recovery.

Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa said the electric 500 will be “competitive” in terms of pricing and performance for a small electric vehicle. He declined to say how many Fiat 500EVs Chrysler expects to sell in its first year.

The Leaf by Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) will have a range of about 100 miles (160 kilometers) on a full charge. Nissan says the Leaf will cost about the same as similar-sized gasoline-powered sedans, before a federal tax credit of $7,500.

As it was announcing work on the Fiat 500, Chrysler also said it was dropping plans to develop a hybrid Ram pickup truck for 2011.

“After closely evaluating the response to hybrid pickups in the marketplace, the company could not formulate an appropriate business case and has decided to cancel development work on the 2011 Ram HEV,” Chrysler said in a statement.

Chrysler is the only one of the six top-selling automakers in the U.S. market that does not have a hybrid vehicle offering. The Ram hybrid pickup was once being rushed so the automaker could join the hybrid movement already well in motion elsewhere.

Chrysler, based in suburban Detroit, emerged from a U.S. government-controlled bankruptcy last year under the management of Italy’s Fiat SpA FIA.MI.

Almost five months ago, Chrysler disbanded a team of engineers and its Envi — short for environment — program in favor of a more traditional organization.

That was a reversal of a program highly touted earlier in 2009 as the automaker sought a $12.5 billion federal aid package.

Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary said Nissan is targeting 25,000 reservations for the Leaf by the time sale begins.

Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn has said he expects electric cars to make up 10 percent of the global auto market in 2020.

Chrysler is on target for 2011 delivery of the first of an expected 140 Ram plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that will be tested in real-life situations at U.S. universities, companies and utilities as part of a U.S. Department of Energy program.

These will be full-sized half-ton pickup trucks, Cappa said.

Chrysler will receive $48 million as part of a DOE $2.4 billion vehicle electrification program. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Derek Caney and Matthew Lewis)

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