Suzuki is to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of its popular Swift compact car using batteries supplied by Sanyo Elecrtric in the second half of this year.

Japanese dealerships will test 60 hybrid Swifts initially, the company said in a statement in Tokyo.

The vehicle runs 15km (about 10 miles) on a fully charged battery and will have a 600cc engine to generate electricity, Suzuki said.

The Japanese carmaker formed an alliance with Volkswagen at the end of last year. The German carmaker acquired a 19.9% stake in Suzuki for JPY222.5bn (US$2.4bn). The two companies plan to develop hybrids and electric vehicles together under both car brands.

Suzuki showed the Swift hybrid at last October’s Tokyo motor show.