Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus has launched mass production of the Canter Eco Hybrid light-duty truck at a plant near Lisbon, Portugal, targeting the European market.

It is the first time a Japanese automaker has started full-scale production of environmentally friendly hybrid trucks in Europe, Jiji Press reported.

As part of parent company Daimler's strategy of promoting local production, production of the hybrid started at Daimler's plant in Tramagal.

Another aim in the sluggish southern European economy is to maintain the employment of some 300 workers at the plant.

Assembly will be carried out at the Tramagal plant with major components imported from Japan.

Hybrid system parts such as motors will be built by Mitsubishi Fuso while batteries will be supplied by South Korean companies.

The redesigned Canter Eco Hybrid was released in Europe on Tuesday. It is the first hybrid truck to be mass-produced in Europe.

Previously, all models were produced in Japan and the number exported was very limited.