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Toyota, Audi mull tiny cars for U.S.

Automotive News reports on the future of minicars in America.

Automotive News

PARIS--More than one European carmaker is on the verge of doing something it wouldn't have considered a few months ago.

They're thinking of selling very small and fuel-efficient cars to Americans--cars designed and developed with only Europe in mind.

Two small cars that debuted at the Paris show are under consideration for the United States. One is the Audi A1 Sportback Concept, which is about 10 inches shorter than Audi's A3. The production version could hit U.S. shores.

"A year ago, I would have said no," said Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's worldwide sales and marketing boss. "I did not see any trend in the U.S. which showed me that small cars could have a lasting, sustainable chance. I think this has changed. Therefore, we definitely have to reconsider the A1.

"Previously, it was not clear that it was right size for the U.S. Now, I say, 'Guys, let's have a look at it.'"

The hybrid A1 concept combines a turbocharged, 148-hp, 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine with an electric motor that boosts torque.

Meanwhile, Toyota may offer its Smart-like iQ minicar in the United States. At 117.5 inches long--just a tad longer than a Smart ForTwo--the iQ was designed and developed for congested European capitals.

But a Toyota source confirmed that the vehicle is being considered for the U.S. market. "We're looking at it, but no decision has been made," the insider said.

Sales in Europe start in January.

(Via: Automotive News)