DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally says the auto maker is considering offering its Ka B-car in the U.S. should market conditions warrant.

The car currently is sold in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world.

“As we pay more for fuel, I think Americans would like a Ka-size (vehicle),” he says during the North American International Auto Show here. “We believe we’ll be paying more (for fuel), so the most important thing for Ford is to be there in every segment.”

Ford executives long have argued vehicles smaller than the B-segment would not be attractive to Americans, making Mulally’s statement a reversal in sentiment.

While smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, such as the new Focus C-car and Fiesta B-car, have dominated Ford’s recent product announcements, Mulally also indicates here there still is a place for rear-wheel-drive vehicles in the auto maker’s lineup.

“So we’ll continue to look at global opportunities for rear-wheel drive,” he says.

Australia, a market where RWD vehicles continue to be popular, remains particularly important for Ford, despite the market’s 7.4% drop in 2009 sales to 937,328 units – the lowest level in seven years. And there are no plans to drop the Australian-built RWD Falcon from the Oz lineup, he says.

“We’ve had a very good business in Australia,” Mulally says. “We believe (the Falcon) is a great car, and there are no changes (planned) right now. In Australia, we’re going to be there with more and more products.”

Regarding North America, Mulally says Ford predicts the U.S. market will account for 11.5 million-12.5 million units this year, an estimate he calls “relatively” conservative.

“We ended 2009 at about 10.5 million (sales), but the annualized rate for December was about 11.6 million, so we think that bodes well,” he says.

With emerging markets growing in importance, Mulally says the auto maker expects a third of its sales to come from North America, a third from Europe and a third from the Asia/Pacific region.

“We’ll leverage our scale, because we have great assets around the world,” he says.

bpope@wardsauto.com