With the global economic crisis forcing consumers to tighten their purse strings, small cars with low sticker prices and high fuel efficiency are becoming more and more popular. While European and Asian markets have been popular with small cars for some time now, it is only recently that selling the compact runabouts in North America has become attractive to manufacturers as the masses clamor for greater value.

Some of the manufacturers considering entering the U.S. market see the current economic conditions as a convenient time to bring their small cars to one of the world's largest automotive markets, and in the next few years the U.S. may see a flurry of small city cars from major manufacturers such as Ford, as well as from smaller, foreign companies such as China's BYD, reports Automotive News.

Cars that are already in production overseas are the most likely candidates, due to the relatively low development costs needed to bring them Stateside. Cars in this category include Ford's diminutive Ka, which is smaller than the Fiesta, as well as Fiat's popular 500 city car. Mercedes' redesigned B-Class line may also be hitting American shores in 2011, along with the subcompact Opel Corsa (which may be built in the U.S. and sold as a Saturn), as well as the Toyota iQ and the Volkswagen Polo.

Other cars that are under development, or being considered for development, could also hit U.S. shores, such as the Audi A1, which would slot in below the Audi A3 and be based on the Audi A1 Sportback concept seen at the Paris Motor Show a couple of months ago. There is also the possibility of BMW's 'Project i' city car getting the go ahead, and if this car is developed then it too could hit U.S. shores.

Additionally, small, cheap cars from foreign manufacturers may undercut European and American brands. Chinese company BYD, which is currently working on a plug-in hybrid for the U.S. market, may also introduce a small city car in the U.S. eventually, while the Hyundai i10 is also being considered for North America.