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Mazda to debut domestic hybrid

Kyodo

Mazda Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will launch a hybrid version of the Axela compact car in Japan on Nov. 22, entering into the segment for the first time amid growing competition.

The fully renovated Axela, known as the Mazda3 abroad, will also come in gasoline and diesel versions. The hybrid car will only be sold in Japan for now. The other two models are already being sold in North America and will go on sale in Europe starting this month and in other Asian markets down the road.

“Including our first hybrid, all three models will be able to offer high traveling performance and environmental friendliness,” President Masamichi Kogai said at a news conference in Tokyo.

The hybrid version, which employs Toyota Motor Corp.’s hybrid system, can run 30.8 km per liter, making it almost as fuel efficient as Toyota’s mainstay Prius hybrid.

The gasoline model gets 19.6 km per liter, a 26 percent improvement over its predecessor.

The diesel model will be put on the domestic market in January, the company said.

The cars will be offered at retail prices between ¥1,711,500 and ¥2,982,000. The automaker plans to sell 500,000 units of the flagship car in the global market annually.

Since its launch in 2003, the Axela has sold more than 3.7 million units in around 120 countries, accounting for roughly 30 percent of Mazda’s global sales.