More confirmation arch rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz could be planning a partnership is news that officials from Mercedes are considering using BMW’s next-gen Mini platform for the new A and B-class small cars due by 2011. Previous reports suggested Mercedes were planning to launch sportier variants of the B-class including a new roadster and hot-hatch, and developing these along with a new sporty Mini would help reduce costs and spread investment risk.

According to an inside source, the rival carmakers are in talks over a possible deal to share development of the new platform. The deal would also allow Mercedes to drop its expensive sandwich design as used on the current A-class, reports Automotive News. The source also revealed Mercedes would likely use its own powertrains although there have been rumors of an engine partnership as well.

The new B-class will be a crucial model in Mercedes’ lineup because the car will likely be sold in the U.S. for the first time, which would see the brand expand into a much lower price segment than usual.