Hoping to share in the success of the growing minicar segment, Toyota is planning to release its new iQ minicar in Europe and Japan early next year following its debut next month at the Paris Motor Show. While there’s a chance the iQ may not be offered in the North American market due to its diminutive stature, future variants based on the car’s underpinnings are more than likely to make it Stateside.

The iQ measures less than three meters in length, yet it can comfortably seat three adults plus one small child and is expected to score a five-star rating in international crash-safety tests. However, exchange rate issues and America’s SUV-dominated highways may be too much of a hurdle for the pint-sized hatch.

Instead, Toyota is reportedly working on several new models based on the iQ platform, one of which is the next-generation 2011 Yaris compact. The other models rumored to be in the works include a seven-seat MPV and a low-cost hybrid vehicle aimed at Honda’s upcoming Insight, reports MotorTrend, and these could all potentially be offered in North America, especially the Yaris.

Toyota has designed the iQ from the ground up to spawn other vehicles. Its construction is nearly all-steel, which was essential for future models such as the seven-seater and hybrid. The first of these are expected to arrive in 2010.

As for the iQ, Toyota expects to sell 100,000 units annually, although competition from other manufacturers including Smart and Volkswagen will be a hurdle. The latter is rumored to be working on a whole family of new compacts based around its own up! minicar.