With Tata setting the benchmark for low cost vehicle development with the unveiling of its $2,500 Nano minicar back in January, major carmakers the world over are now playing catch up and furiously developing their own rival models to take advantage of the burgeoning low-cost vehicle market. Industry giants Toyota, GM, Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan have all announced plans to launch new budget models in emerging markets such as India and China and now we can add Mitsubishi to that growing list.

Mitsubishi has already started development work on its new low-cost vehicle, which it plans to launch in 2010, reports Automotive News. Speaking at this weekend’s Beijing Motor Show, Mitsubishi chief Osamu Masuko revealed the car would be based on one of the carmaker’s current ‘kei’ minicars sold in Japan and would be targeted at Eastern Europe, China and Southeast Asia.

"Minicars are a weakness in one way, because unique area strategy cars are no longer valid," Masuko said. "We can make that a strength if we can use it as a base for a worldwide model."

In Japan the cars are restricted to carrying engines no bigger than 660cc but the new world car will likely receive a larger 1.0L unit and feature a RWD layout. It will be smaller than the current Colt and will likely be similar to the current ‘i’ minicar (pictured) already sold in Japan.