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Mazda Motor Corp. on Tuesday released a new version of its MPV minivan, the first of four new or remodeled products that the automaker plans to launch in Japan this year.

Mazda did not release any new products last year.

The MPV features a four-in-line 2.3-liter DOHC engine. The engine was developed by Mazda and will also be supplied to its parent, the Ford group.

Mazda and other Ford group firms plan to build 1.5 million engines globally on an annual basis, the automaker said.

The minivan is also available in a version equipped with a V-6 three-liter DOHC engine supplied by Ford, according to Mazda. In terms of optional extras, MPV vehicles can come with electrically powered sliding rear doors on both sides.

Mazda, which last week revised its earnings forecast for the 2001 business year, has entered the second year of what it describes as a three-year turnaround plan.

“We’re seeing a financial recovery followed by product recovery,” said Mazda President Mark Fields during a media preview for the MPV in Tokyo.

Mazda is aiming to generate monthly sales of 4,000 MPVs, with the vehicles priced at between 2.098 million yen and 2.948 million yen.

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