This fall, Mazda plans to offer a small number of Demio EVs for lease. The car, an all-electric version of the model known here as the Mazda 2, is part of a prototype program designed to help Mazda learn more about electric vehicles.
Mazda says the electrified Demio has the same amount of passenger and cargo room as a normal model. The car uses an electric motor rated for 101 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque, which is said to provide the same sort of acceleration as a regular version of the Mazda hatchback. A 20 kWh lithium-ion battery provides enough juice for a driving range of about 124 miles. It can be fully charged on a normal charger in eight hours, or to 80 percent capacity using a special fast charger in just 40 minutes.
The slightly larger Nissan Leaf, for reference, uses a 24 kWh battery and has a quoted driving range of 73 miles. Its electric motor is rated for 107 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.
Starting in October, Mazda will lease 100 units of the electric 2 in western Japan. The idea is that Mazda will be able to learn about developing electric cars, and the needs of EV owners, by keeping close tabs on the leased cars. BMW used a similar method when it leased the Mini E and 1 Series Active E cars.
There are so far no confirmed plans for the electric Demio to go into regular production, but it seems likely that will happen if the lease program is successful. A company engineer has previously hinted that Mazda wants to introduce an electric car in the U.S. by 2018, as it would help the carmaker succeed in green-focused states like California.
Mazda doesn't currently offer any hybrid or electric vehicles here. Instead, Mazda is focusing on deploying its SkyActiv fuel-saving engines, transmissions, and chassis designs.