Mazda Motor Corporation is considering raising production of engines to meet strong demand at home and abroad for its cars.

According to Reuters, Mazda president and chief executive officer Hisakazu Imaki said the company could not keep up with strong demand for cars such as its Atenza [6] and Axela [3] models, which use the MZR engine.

“It’s a fact we need to produce more MZR engines,” he told Reuters at the launch of the new Verisa compact hatchback model on Monday though he declined to give details on its production increase plans.

The Nihon Keizai newspaper, citing company sources, reportedly said on Monday that Mazda planned to invest five billion yen ($US46.64 million) to boost production of the engines at its main Hiroshima plant by 30%.

Mazda, one-third owned by Ford, would raise production of the 1.8 to 2.3 litre engines used in the Atenza and Axela to 540,000 from the present 425,000 units a year, starting this autumn, the business daily said, according to the news agency, which noted that the MZR engine was jointly developed with Ford.

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Mazda, whose profit jumped 40% to 70.17 billion yen for the year ended March 31, released the Atenza in 2002 and it has been successful in Europe and China, while the Axela, which came out last year, has gained market share in Japan, the US and Europe, Reuters said.

After spending much of the last decade in the red, Mazda has repaired its earnings by focusing on unique value-added cars such as the Atenza and Axela, the report noted, adding that the formula has turned Mazda into the fastest-growing brand in the tough Western European market.

Imaki reportedly said the company aimed to sell over 300,000 vehicles a year in China by 2010, up from the 80,000 in 2003.