Mazda has finally launched the redesigned Axela, sold in export markets as the 3, at home in Japan, offering improved fuel economy from new idle stop technology.

Company president Takashi Yamanouchi said the company planned to sell over 300,000 units of its most popular model worldwide and 24,000 units in Japan. It was launched in Europe, North America and Australia earlier this year.

Japanese-specification four-door sedan and five-door models come with 1.5, 2.0 and 2.3 litre engines.

Two-litre front wheel drive models have a new 'i-stop' system which automatically stops the engine whenever the car idles and restarts it in just 0.35 seconds while at the same time cutting down engine noise and vibration.

Yamanouchi told Kyodo News Mazda plans to maintain its capital ties with Ford but hinted the firm may study partnerships with other automakers in developing green technology for eco-friendly cars. Mazda is currently working with Ford in the development of hybrid cars.

''I think we will need various technology from now on,'' Yamanouchi told a group of reporters following a press conference in Tokyo.

''Each automaker has very good technology while we also have our own technology so I think various things could happen when discussions develop into agreements,'' he said.