Mazda is developing another hybrid – proving just how much pressure automakers are in to raise their lineups’ fuel economy. Mazda’s test mule uses borrowed technology from Toyota. Mazda, which uses the “Zoom Zoom” slogan, had entered a licensing deal with Toyota last year.
However, only the hybrid tech will be sourced from Toyota as the agreement excludes its tuning, its internal-combustion engine, steering, or other chassis features. The gear lever in this 6 is borrowed from the Toyota Prius.
This car is expected to be launched in late 2012 or 2013. Aside from its unusual shifter, it also has an EV button, implying that this vehicle can offer some electric-only operation.
For instance, the EV mode on the present Toyota Highlander hybrid offers just a token amount of purely electric cruising. It’s expected that Mazda will make a hybrid of one of its existing models, such as the 6, rather than building a unique model since it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
But even then, it will be more Mazda all the way through compared to the late Tribute hybrid, which is a rebadge of the Ford Escape hybrid. Mazda’s next hybrid is believed to offer more power than a Prius (which delivers a combined power of 134 hp).
Mazda’s hybrid will also be equipped with the company’s efficient Skyactiv gasoline four-cylinder as the ICE part of the powertrain. This engine is expected to have an output of 163 hp and to achieve up to 40 mpg highway in the 2012 Mazda 3. While it’s possible that the four-cylinder Skyactiv diesel will be used for hybridization, it would bring up the cost even further.