FOLLOWING REPORTS published in December, Mazda has today announced that it will licence Toyota's Hybrid Drive technology. Japanese-market sales of its first hybrid model will begin in 2013.
Mazda plans to combine Toyota's hybrid technology with its upcoming Sky-G petrol engine, with an overall aim of increasing the company's average fuel economy 30 percent by 2015 - compared to its 2008 levels.
Neither company has offered specific details on how Mazda will integrate the Hybrid Drive system with the Sky-G engine, or whether the deal will include the supply of transmissions and battery packs.
Mazda's initial unveiling of the Sky-G and Sky-D engines in October last year was accompanied by the decision to skip hybrid technology, focusing purely on ultra-efficient petrol and diesel engines.
While Mazda has clearly changed its tack, it remains to be seen how big a role hybrid models will play in Mazda's future line-up. A report in Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun last year claimed Mazda is aiming to sell tens of thousands of hybrids, with a hybrid Mazda3 among the first models to use the technology.
Mazda says the new Sky-G direct injection petrol engine offers significantly improved fuel economy - 15 percent greater than the carmaker’s current 2.0 litre engine - thanks largely to enhanced thermal efficiency.