Mazda Motor Corp. will be the first Japanese carmaker to begin selling diesel hybrid passenger cars in Japan and Europe as early as fiscal 2016, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Compared with existing hybrid cars, which are mainly powered by a gasoline engine, diesel hybrid cars combine a light oil-powered diesel engine and an electric motor.
Currently, gasoline-electric hybrid cars lead the development race of eco-friendly vehicles.
But due to the cheaper costs of light oil compared to gasoline, as well as its generally higher combustion efficiency compared to gasoline-fueled cars, diesel-powered cars are also expected to join the development race.
Using a diesel-fueled engine as the main drive source, Mazda will develop a system in which an engine-powered small motor will play a supporting role.
Mazda aims to develop diesel-powered hybrid cars that can travel about 40 kilometres per litre of light oil - about 30 per cent farther than ordinary diesel-powered vehicles run, according to sources.
Among the existing hybrid cars, Toyota Motor Corp.’s Aqua has the highest fuel efficiency - 37 kilometres per litre of gasoline.
Diesel-powered vehicles account for 50 per cent of new car sales in Europe. About 76,000 units were also sold in 2013 in Japan, about 1.9 times more than the sales from the previous year.