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Help Mazda says new Mazda2 model to get 30 km/litre
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Mazda Motor Corp said on Wednesday its next Mazda2/Demio subcompact would get fuel economy of 30 km/litre (70 mpg) without the help of an electric motor, likely making it the most fuel-efficient gasoline car on the road.

The vehicle will be launched in Japan in the first half of 2011 as the first product to be equipped with Mazda's next-generation engine and transmission technology, dubbed SKYACTIV.

Mazda is aiming to improve fuel economy on its cars by 30 percent by 2015 compared with 2008 levels without the use of a hybrid system. "We are aiming to launch a car that is fully equipped with SKYACTIV technologies globally in 2012," Chief Executive Officer Takashi Yamanouchi told a news conference.

Japanese minivehicle maker Daihatsu Motor Co has also said it aimed to develop a gasoline car that achieves fuel economy of 30 km/litre -- equivalent to what the "mild" hybrid version of Honda Motor Co's new Fit subcompact gets.

"I promise that we will offer the Demio at a lower price than a hybrid of the same segment," Yamanouchi said. While Mazda has no hybrid system of its own, it is seen as among the most advanced automakers in internal combustion engine and weight reduction technology.

Mazda said its new direct injection gasoline engine achieves big mileage improvements mainly due to the world's highest engine compression ratio. Yamanouchi said Mazda planned to build on its existing technologies to eventually develop hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars.

In his opening remarks, Yamanouchi repeated Mazda's official statement that its strategic relationship with top shareholder Ford Motor Co remained intact. Ford is planning to sell most of its 11 percent stake in Mazda, worth just over $500 million, possibly by the end of the year, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters at the weekend.

Despite their wide-ranging cooperation, Mazda and Ford have gone their separate ways in developing cleaner vehicles. Mazda in March turned to Toyota Motor Corp for help in developing its first hybrid car. Mazda's shares were up 1.4 percent in mid-afternoon trade, outperforming a drop in other Japanese auto stocks and the benchmark Nikkei average's 1.7 percent fall.
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