Small cars are the next step forward for better fuel economy and functional urban transport, and Ford has already announced it will be building six new models in Europe, and using them to broaden the U.S. lineup. One of those six is thought to be the all-new B-Max, designed to fit between the Fiesta and the C-Max.

Though some Romanian news outlets have pegged the B-Max as the successor to the Euro-market Fusion, sources in Germany indicate the car is its own niche, and will actually be marketed at a space below the C-Max, reports Auto Motor & Sport. It's not being considered a follow-up to the Fusion because it will be built on Fiesta underpinnings and feature a smaller, more economical interior.

The new B-Max will be built at a Ford plant in Craiova, Romania. The company hopes to have production up to about 300,000 total units from the factory by 2012, though some of that volume will come from the Ford Transit van that is also to be made there beginning in 2009. The plant is a former Daewoo facility in which Ford purchased a 72.4% interest in March of this year. The company has obligated itself, as part of the deal, to invest 675 million euros into modernizing the plant over the next several years, so it is expected to become an important production center for Ford's European operations. The relatively low cost of production in Romania will help keep prices low and profitability up.

Launch dates for the B-Max are still unknown, but it is expected to make its debut sometime in the middle of 2010, as a 2011 model. The U.S. could eventually get the car as well, though such a move won't be likely until after the car is launched in Europe. Because the B-Max will share Fiesta hardware, it's possible that it could be produced alongside the Fiesta at Ford's plant in Mexico.

The B-Max is thought to be one of the unnamed vehicles among the six European models that will be used to upgrade the global lineup, including that of the U.S.