Mercedes-Benz has concluded there's a potential market for the micro-compact A-Class in the US, reported The Car Connection (TCC) website, adding that the company had done extensive research.

"The next generation of the A will be in the States," Juergen Hubbert, the DCX board member overseeing passenger car operations, told TCC.

"It is a definite decision."

TCC said Hubbert would not say when the A-class would arrive, hinting only that it would be sometime between 2004 and '05, when the current platform is refreshed and according to TCC sources, likely to be stretched a bit.

TCC said Hubbert also hinted DaimlerChrysler's even smaller Smart could follow.

"Everyone is expecting Smart will come," Hubbert told TCC, adding, "There is increased interest" on the company's part.

Hubbert told TCC the seven foot long, so-called city car currently wouldn't meet federal safety standards, so either they'd have to change or the Smart would have to be redesigned.

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