Chrysler promised Americans a new fleet of compact, fuel efficient cars when it merged with the Italian automaker Fiat . That was nearly a year ago and nothing seems to have changed. Yet Chrysler is making new promises with the announcement of an all-electric Fiat 500 minicar for the U.S. starting in 2012.

The company says the lightweight car's chassis is perfect for an electric power system.

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Chrysler said the Fiat 500 EV will be comparable in price and performance to other similar compact electric vehicles in the market. At the moment, Chrysler must be thinking of the Nissan Leaf, so it looks like the Fiat 500 EV will come in at around $30,000 minus a $7,500 federal tax credit for the first 200,000 cars.

The Leaf is due in November, with a claimed 100- mile range between rechargings.

Other electrics expected to hit American roads within the next couple of years are the Chevrolet Volt,  the MINI Cooper EV, the Smart ForTwo minicar, a Ford Focus electric, and an all-new electric Prius due out in 2012.

The Fiat 500 with an internal combustion engine is due to hit showroom floors sometime at the end of this year.

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