Taking on its Japanese rival, Mazda says the new electric vehicle will be capable of travelling 125 miles on a full charge – more than any mainstream electric vehicle on the market today.
However, the new electric car – Mazda’s first – will not be seen before Spring 2012 when it will be trialled in Japan by local government bodies and fleet users.
The news Mazda plans to introduce an electric vehicle is a surprise because the car maker had previously insisted it would focus on more efficient petrol and diesel engines.
According to Mazda, this strategy is still in place and remains ‘at the heart of the automobile for the near future’.
The improvement of combustion engines is a ‘priority’, according to Mazda, which sees it as a more viable option than electric cars in the next few years because of concerns over a charging network and range anxiety.
Mazda will introduce its SKYACTIV technology into the Mazda2 and Mazda3 hatchback in 2010. This includes a new lightweight chassis, more efficient manual and automatic transmissions and cleaner, more efficient petrol and diesel engines.
They will be joined by regenerative braking and hybrid models in future before Mazda introduces its first ever electric car.
Unlike rivals Nissan, which developed electric technology with French car maker Renault, Mazda is developing the technology independently. This means a full production version of the electric Mazda2 could be as much as three years away from reaching UK showrooms.
In the UK, only three electric cars are eligible for the government’s £5,000 grant. These include the Citroen C-Zero, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Peugeot iOn.
More electric vehicles will be introduced in the next 12 months, including the extended range electric Vauxhall Ampera and the Nissan Leaf.