Even as fuel prices hover around pre-crunch levels, the automotive industry knows it's only a temporary respite and continues its gear-up for a new layer of high-quality small cars. On the German front, BMW is thought to be working on a sub-1-series minicar, Daimler already has its Smart, and soon the Volkswagen Group will have its own family of minicars, all based around its recent up! concept vehicle.

However, there's trouble brewing at VW in regards to its new range of minicars as there are fears that they may be too expensive for brands like Seat and Skoda, whose models have traditionally sold for less than VW’s. Speaking with Automotive News, an anonymous VW Group engineer explained that when it comes to component selection, "VW's choices are almost always too expensive for Seat and Skoda".

The engineer's chief concern was that while VW can afford to use more expensive components in the production version of the up!, the Seat and Skoda variants would be worse off because of the generally lower price they have to set for their own versions.

This is perilous as Skoda generally prices its cars around €1,250 lower than that of VW, effectively reducing their profit margins significantly if expensive components are used without taking this into account.

Horst Muehl, Skoda's head of production, defended VW's actions stating that the brand would try to make the cars as inexpensive to produce as possible. Nevertheless, whatever components VW does finally choose, Seat and Skoda will be stuck with them. The only variations between the different models when they finally arrive at the end of 2010 will be interiors and exterior designs. These computer generated renderings give us a preview at the different models, revealing that even Audi could have its own version of the up!-based minicar.


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