With Ford, GM, and Chrysler making some big apologies last week for lagging sales, it seems like companies making smaller cars are riding high.

The reason for the Big Three’s decline in revenue was linked directly to rising fuel prices and increased environmental awareness. More people realized that those big trucks and SUVs were killing them at the gas station.

BMW’s MINI Cooper and Clubman models are becoming one of a few popular alternatives. Both models, which everyone thought were cool in The Italian Job, get at least 29 miles per gallon, compared to most trucks and SUVs where 15-19 mpg is almost the norm. (pictures after the jump)

And this has been proven in MINI’s sales, they are up 29.9% this year, according to Phil LeBeau of CNBC.

This thing doesn’t even look that small. I could totally fit my surfboard and a corpse in there.

(MINI Clubman)

Two other brands are getting their names recognized. Tata Motors, an Indian car company specializing in ultra-cheap small cars, claims it will soon unveil an American model for only $2,500!

That’s scary cheap and supposedly it won’t spew black smoke and destroy the environment. Which is good, right?

(Tata Motors, the ‘new people’s car’ looks a lot like an egg?)

And have you heard about those Smart Cars? You can park three of them perpendicular to the street curb in the space one normal sized car would take up.

(Smart Car parked)

But many people are concerned with these ultra-small cars. Can they stand up to American roadways, or will they completely crumple under the force of an SUV collision?

Well surprisingly, this tiny Smart Car was given a very good crash test rating in a recent study. Maybe that will be enough to get them on our roads in large numbers?

There is no doubt though, this summer with fuel costs consistently breaking their highest records, an economy puking up recessions, and the need for greener cars, these little guys will be adding some big revenue.

Seen any of these cars on the streets near where you live? Do you like them or are you avoiding ‘ a car of the future’ like the plague?

CNBC: MINI is Maxing Out on Small Car Craze, May 27, 2008
Edmunds: Tiny Tata Ultra Cheap Car Will Be Least Polluting, November 2007
CNN Money: Tiny Smart Car gets crash test kudos, May 14, 2008