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Mazda May Introduce Plug-in Hybrid, Electric Cars

Mazda Motor Corp.’s Chief Executive Officer Takashi Yamanouchi said the automaker is considering introducing plug-in hybrid and electric cars after it releases a gasoline-electric hybrid model.

Mazda would follow Nissan Motor Co., whose battery-powered Leaf goes on sale this month, as well as Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. electric cars and plug-ins planned for 2012. Carmakers are adding less-polluting vehicles as governments tighten emissions rules and consumers demand more fuel-efficient models.

Mazda has said it will start selling a hybrid model by 2013 using Toyota’s technology.

Shares in the Hiroshima, western Japan-based automaker rose 0.4 percent to 239 yen in Tokyo trading as of 2:14 p.m. The stock has risen 13 percent in 2010.

Separately, Yamanouchi, speaking to reporters today in Tokyo, said Mazda plans to increase annual Japan production to about 1.05 million units by the year ending March 2016 from about 900,000 units currently. The proportion of exports will rise to 85 percent from 80 percent, he said.

Even as the strong yen cuts the value of repatriated export earnings, “our strategy is to use our existing capacity efficiently,” Yamanouchi said.

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