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Toyota Prius, VW Polo and Beetle join long list of cars headed to India

Toyota announced November 6 that it will sell its first small car in India in late 2010, the most recent announcement from an increasing number of automakers intending to target the burgeoning Indian market.

The car will debut at the New Delhi Auto Expo, opening January 5, 2010, and will have a small, fuel-efficient 1.2-liter engine, with possibly a diesel option.

Toyota will also showcase its Prius hybrid sedan for the first time in India at the expo and is considering selling the car there, according to US-based financial newspaper The Wall Street Journal. Compact cars, including superminis like the popular new Tata Nano, comprise the overwhelming majority of India's market, but India's nouveau riche could provide an ample market for the hybrid king.

Toyota and many other automakers are far behind the nation's sales leaders - Suzuki, Hyundai and Tata - but that has not deterred the brands from designating a slew of small cars to be headed for the subcontinent.

Also on November 6, Volkswagen reaffirmed its plans to sell its Polo hatchback, the German automaker's best-selling car internationally, in India. The car is being redesigned for the Indian market and will be launched in 2010.  

Coming next month to India is the VW Beetle, which will vie in India's luxury model market more than its family car segment.

On October 30 Nissan announced it will launch a new small car, known currently as V, in India, as well as Thailand and China, in March 2010 in its bid to produce the developing world's compact car of choice.

In September Ford unveiled its new Figo model, the first small car to be produced in India by the American automaker. The hatchback will be available in India in early 2010 and draws heavily from Ford's Fiesta model, which is one of Europe's top selling cars.

Auto sales in India are less than one tenth of car sales in the US this year, but with demand slumping in the West, countries with room to grow, like India, are receiving more attention than ever before.