Despite the past efforts of its parent company, Mazda is setting out on its own path to develop hybrid powertrains. Mazda's senior managing executive in charge of research and development, Seita Kanai, stated that the Japanese company is working independently of Ford to create hybrid vehicles. These new hybrids will be targeted at the U.S. market and will be based on a chassis that is lightened to compensate for the increased weight of the hybrid components. In the past, Mazda's hybrids have only been seen in concept form, and the Tribute Hybrid that Mazda provided to the Orange County Fire Authority was based on Ford's Aisin supplied system. Kanai also stated that with hybrids becoming more prevalent, "the challenge will be the appeal of the car itself." He went on to say that Mazda's goal is to take it's Zoom-Zoom mantra into the hybrid arena as well, with the fun-to-drive flavor intact. We say go for it, Kanai.

Mazda has stated in the past that it will release hydrogen-powered hybrid vehicles in 2008 using its rotary engine technology. It is far more likely that Mazda will release conventional gasoline-electric hybrids first, and then go for the more advanced hydrogen technology later. Still, 2008 is not that far off, and it will be interesting to see if the automaker can pull off this aggressive development timeline. It may also be possible for the technology that Mazda develops to be commercialized in Ford product as well, and with FoMoCo in upheaval right now, it is the perfect time for the Japanese company to take hybrid technology into its own hands.

[Source: Nikkei Business]