Last year’s A1 Sportback Concept is a good indication of the aggressive styling expected for the S1 sports hatch

Last year’s A1 Sportback Concept is a good indication of the aggressive styling expected for the S1 sports hatch

Ford’s upcoming second-generation Ka isn’t the only fuel-efficient urban runabout being considered for a United States launch, with latest reports indicating both Audi and Toyota are also considering bringing their latest minicar creations Stateside. Such an idea was almost unheard of less than a year ago but changing consumer tastes, increased awareness of environmental issues and rising fuel prices have possibly forever changed the landscape of the U.S. new car market.

Two of the latest cars currently being considered for the U.S. include the Audi A1, which was previewed in ‘Sportback’ concept form at last week’s Paris Motor Show as well the Toyota iQ minicar, which was first revealed at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Audi A1 is more of a premium hatch, designed along the lines of BMW’s Mini Cooper. It is expected to be available in both three and five-door bodystyles and could even come with a hybrid or all-electric powertrain for ultra-efficient motoring.

The Toyota, on the other hand, is designed as a cheap urban runabout and is slightly smaller in size than the Audi and would compete with the Smart car from Mercedes.

Speaking with Automotive News, Audi's worldwide sales and marketing boss Peter Schwarzenbauer said “a year ago I would have said no to a U.S. launch of the A1. 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.”

An inside source at Toyota has also revealed that the iQ is being considered for the U.S. market. "We're looking at it, but no decision has been made," the source revealed. The iQ is scheduled to go on sale in Europe and Japan early next year, while the A1 isn’t due for launch until late next year or early 2010.