Integrated transport authority Centro last week shortlisted five bidders to supply the £50M tram fleet for the Midland Metro upgrade.
The companies are Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Siemens and Stadler.
The bidding process will take about a year and the new 19 strong fleet will be longer than the existing 16 trams and carry 30% more people − 3.5M a year. The trams will come into service from 2014.
The Midland Metro extension from Snow Hill to New Street station is due to go out for design build tender by Christmas and is scheduled to open in 2015.
The £55M, 1.3km long extension will bring passengers from the Black Country direct into central Birmingham and boost the local economy by £50M a year.