With the high cost of gasoline on the minds of consumers, the timing is right for the wide range of small, fuel-efficient cars arriving in 2009 and 2010.
The Kia Soul, Ford Fiesta, Pontiac G3, Mazda Kabura, Nissan Cube and others are expected to give consumers more high-mpg choices.
Timing is everything, said Tina Jantzi, senior manager of North American forecasting at J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting in suburban Detroit.
"Given the state of the economy and gas prices, really any of the smaller-vehicle timelines could be pulled ahead," she said.
The Detroit 3's 2009 and 2010 product plans reveal only a few new small vehicles. Officially announced vehicles include the Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback, arriving in 2010, and a rebadged Nissan Versa sedan that Chrysler LLC will sell as a Dodge or Chrysler in 2009.
General Motors is expected to roll out the 2009 Pontiac G3, basically a Chevrolet Aveo with a separately styled front-end design. Also likely for 2010 is the Chevrolet Beat three-door hatchback.
Iffy at best are one or two Chrysler LLC models from China's Chery Automobile Co. Chrysler has said it will sell current-generation Chery vehicles in developing markets, but those vehicles do not meet U.S. standards.