A Lexus rival to premium hatchbacks like the BMW 1-Series and Audi A3 has been speculated on for almost the past year but earlier this month we got the first concrete evidence that such a car was in the works with the release of an official teaser sketch. The actual sketch depicted a concept version of the car that is scheduled to be unveiled at next month’s Frankfurt Auto Show but a production version is expected to go on sale by the middle of next year.

The only problem is that most reports have suggested that the North American market will likely miss out on the new compact because of pricing issues. The car will be an entry-level model for Lexus, which means it would have to be priced below the IS range--a segment the company may be hesitant to enter in North America.

Inside sources at Toyota, however, have now revealed that the Lexus compact car could be sold in the U.S. by 2012. With both Cadillac and Lincoln planning new entry-level models for the U.S. and more variants of the BMW 1-Series and Audi A3 expected to come Stateside in coming years as well, Lexus may also join the bandwagon with its own compact car.

Many prestige-car buyers and older empty-nesters are now downsizing to smaller vehicles and with fuel prices and congestion expected to become worse in coming years the compact luxury car segment could be set to boom.

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