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Though lagging behind competitors General Motors and Nissan, Mazda will finally enter the plug-in vehicle market in 2012. The Japanese automaker has announced it intends to develop an electric subcompact based on the Demio (aka the Mazda2), and targets a launch date of spring 2012. Before you get geared up for this electric's arrival, it should be noted that, at least for now, Mazda only intends to offer its battery-powered hatch to lessees, mostly government organizations and corporate fleet customers, in Japan.

The Demio-based electric is expected to offer 120 miles of driving range on a full charge and will feature a lithium-ion battery pack, though Mazda is unwilling to disclose the name of its li-ion supplier at this time. Mazda is equally mum on pricing and production volume for its electric hatch, but the automaker's chief executive officer, Takashi Yamanouchi, did offer this brief statement:

We think time will be needed for electric vehicles to become widespread, but there is a definite need for short-range commuters.

The Japanese automaker anticipates that electric vehicles will account for five percent of the world's automotive market by 2020, which we hope indicates that a plug-in Mazda could hit the States by the end of the decade. Mazda's other efficiency efforts are focused on hybrids, rotary engines and cleaner gas engines.



[Source: Mazda]
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Mazda to Lease Electric Vehicles in Japan

HIROSHIMA, Japan-Mazda Motor Corporation is independently developing an electric vehicle (EV) with plans to commence leasing in Japan in spring 2012. The new EV, based on its Demio subcompact, is expected to have a driving range of 200 kilometers and will be leased mainly to local government bodies and fleet customers.

Mazda is currently advancing its Building Block Strategy, which prioritizes the improvement of base technologies by developing more efficient engines and transmissions and reducing vehicle weight. Building on this, Mazda will progressively introduce electric devices such as regenerative braking and hybrid systems. The initial results of the strategy – products featuring Mazda's new, eco-friendly SKYACTIV technologies – will begin rolling out to markets this year. In parallel with the Building Block Strategy, Mazda is also continuing its research and development efforts into EVs designed for customers with short city commutes. Through this EV lease program, Mazda hopes to enhance its knowledge of EV usage requirements and electric drive technologies.

The internal combustion engine is expected to remain the heart of the automobile for the near future. Going forward, Mazda will continue to improve its base technologies that are centered on internal combustion. At the same time, it will advance development of various future eco-friendly technologies in order to offer all its customers driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance.

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