The team over at AutoCar have gotten wind that Mazda is busily working away on a plug-in hybrid vehicle to rival Chevrolet's coming Volt - powering the wheels via an electric motor, the battery pack for which can be charged by a standard petrol engine (a very small one) on the fly.
The word is that testing of the hybrid vehicle in Japan is well-and-truly underway with a Mazda 5 MPV body shell, disguising a rotary engine and battery setup, doing the rounds. Mazda executives are said to be keen to see the vehicle into production, but will not make a formal decision until the price of batteries reaches more acceptable levels.
While the wait continues, Mazda will focus on more basic green initiatives such as stop-start technology with the first such-fitted vehicle expected to hit Japanese dealers sometime next year. Expect more effort from Mazda on the green front as the 2015 time frame for a 30 percent reduction in fuel consumption draws closer.