Small, efficient cars have not fared particularly well in the U.S. Why, exactly, isn't precisely a mystery - Americans like big, strong cars for the most part - but it is something of a paradox, because Americans also want great fuel efficiency and low prices. As oil prices rise, the average consumer is beginning to realize they can't have it all. Daimler is capitalizing on this by offering its smallest car, the Smart Fortwo, and now Volkswagen looks to be eying a similar plan by introducing the Polo to the U.S., and possibly the production version of the diminutive up! minicar concept.

Currently, VW is only considering the move, but according to the head of the company’s U.S. operation, Stefan Jacoby, the "up! could be in the future of the market" in the U.S. Speaking with Reuters, Jacoby especially mentioned that dense, urban areas with heavy congestion such as New York could prove to be popular markets for a minicar.

But the current state of the market means that VW is considering the up! for a release in 2011 as a 2012-model, and for now the German carmaker is predicting that the market will remain relatively flat throughout 2009.

Currently, the up! has only been seen in concept form, however, VW execs have confirmed that the car will be offered with a front-engined FWD layout, rather than the concept's rear-engined RWD layout. The decision to switch the drive and engine layout delayed the up! by about five months, but despite the production hurdles the car is expected to be popular enough to sell around 500,000 units globally every year.