Though trailing competitors General Motors and Nissan, Mazda will eventually enter the plug-in vehicle segment in 2012. The Japanese automaker intends to launch a battery-powered subcompact based on the Demio (aka Mazda2) in spring 2012. With the debut of the production electric hatchback still nearly two years away, Mazda decided to wheel out two prototypes of the Demio electric in Japan.
The prototype version sports a lithium-ion battery pack wedged into the vehicle's engine bay, according to Integrity Exports. That chunk of li-ion reportedly makes the electric version ten percent heavier than its gasoline-engined counterpart. Regardless, Mazda still claims the electric Demio will have a range of approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles).
The prototype Demios will initially be used to ferry local dignitaries to the reopening of the Miyajima Aquarium in Japan on August 1st. Then, the battery-powered hatchbacks will take to the streets of Hiroshima for some real-world testing
It should be noted that, at least for now, Mazda only intends to offer its battery-powered Demio to lessees – mostly government organizations and corporate fleet customers – in Japan. Mazda is mum on pricing and production volume for this subcompact electric hatch.