Mazdas EV will be based on B-segment Demio/2 subcompact hatchback

Mazda's EV will be based on B-segment Demio/2 subcompact hatchback

Mazda said on Monday it was "independently" developing an electric vehicle (EV) with plans to commence leasing in Japan in spring 2012.

The new EV, based on the popular Demio subcompact (exported as the 2), is expected to have a driving range of 200km (120 miles) and will be leased mainly to local government bodies and fleet customers.

"Mazda is currently advancing its 'Building Block Strategy', which prioritises the improvement of base technologies by developing more efficient engines and transmissions and reducing vehicle weight," the automaker said in a statement. "Building on this, [we] will progressively introduce electric devices such as regenerative braking and hybrid systems.

Some initial products of the strategy — products featuring new, 'eco-friendly Skyactiv technologies' will go on sale this year, including a new line of mor efficient petrol and diesel I4 engines and a conventional torque converter automatic transmission.

"Mazda is also continuing its research and development efforts into EVs designed for customers with short city commutes," it added. "Through this EV lease programme, [we hope] to enhance [our] 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, [we] will continue to improve [our] base technologies that are centred on internal combustion."

Mazda has previously offered a hybrid version of its Tribute small SUV in North America. It was built on an OEM basis by Ford, which shared the model line and sold it as the Escape (Maverick for export).