Today Mazda announced that it will start leasing and electric vehicle based on its small Demio (also called the Mazda2). The car is expected to have a 124 mile range—although that’s likely based on the Japanese driving cycle, which can yield significantly different results from driving range tests in the United States and other countries. It doesn’t sound like the car will be generally available, or available outside of Japan. It “will be leased mainly to local government bodies and fleet customers.”
Like most automakers, Mazda is focusing mainly on improving the efficiency of internal combustion, and is introducing gas-powered cars that can rival the fuel economy of more expensive hybrids. Indeed, until 2009, the company did not plan to introduce electric vehicles at all. For all the fanfare surrounding electric vehicles in the last couple of months, they remain a sideshow for automakers such as GM and Ford. Nissan and Renault are putting a heavy emphasis on electric vehicles, but even these companies expect these cars to account for a small minority of sales in the next decade.