Mazda Changes Course on Electric Vehicles

Mazda Motor Corporation (MZDAF.PK) is developing an electric vehicle (EV) with plans to commence leasing in Japan in spring 2012, the company said on Monday.

The announcement marks a shift in the automaker’s previously-outlined strategy to focus on improving the fuel efficiency of its gasoline-powered vehicles through the year 2015.

Mazda Chief Executive Takashi Yamanouchi told reporters in Tokyo the company wants to be able to "respond right away" if short-term market demand is strong for commuter-range electric vehicles.

The company’s EV will be based on its Mazda2/Demio subcompact. Mazda said it is expected to have a driving range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and will be leased mainly to local government bodies and fleet customers.

Separately, Mazda gasoline vehicles will begin featuring new, fuel-efficient technologies later this year. Branded SKYACTIV–these will include more efficient engines and transmissions, coupled with lighter weight bodies. Mazda said its will eventually combine these advancements with hybrid and electric drive systems.

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