Electric Mazda2 coming to Japan in 2012, no you can't drive it
Mazda has been toying with an electrified version of its Demio compact (known as the Mazda2 'round these parts) since at least last year, and now it's announcing plans to start some serious production of the 200 kilometer (125mile) range autos, putting them up for lease by spring of 2012. There are a couple of catches, though: these are only for the Japanese market and, if that weren't bad enough, they'll only be available for fleet sales. So, unless you're looking to buy a couple-dozen for Bob's Heavy Industries you're out of luck. For now, at least.

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Mazda to Lease Electric Vehicles in Japan

HIROSHIMA, Japan-Mazda Motor Corporation is independently developing an electric vehicle (EV) with plans to commence leasing in Japan in spring 2012. The new EV, based on its Demio subcompact, is expected to have a driving range of 200 kilometers and will be leased mainly to local government bodies and fleet customers.

Mazda is currently advancing its Building Block Strategy, which prioritizes the improvement of base technologies by developing more efficient engines and transmissions and reducing vehicle weight. Building on this, Mazda will progressively introduce electric devices such as regenerative braking and hybrid systems. The initial results of the strategy – products featuring Mazda's new, eco-friendly SKYACTIV technologies – will begin rolling out to markets this year. In parallel with the Building Block Strategy, Mazda is also continuing its research and development efforts into EVs designed for customers with short city commutes. Through this EV lease program, Mazda hopes to enhance its knowledge of EV usage requirements and electric drive technologies.

The internal combustion engine is expected to remain the heart of the automobile for the near future. Going forward, Mazda will continue to improve its base technologies that are centered on internal combustion. At the same time, it will advance development of various future eco-friendly technologies in order to offer all its customers driving pleasure as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance.