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Mazda to invest $3.7 billion in green-car R&D

Electric charge: Mazda is set to make a late run at electric drive systems.

Hybrid now large on Mazda agenda as financial outlook improves

8 Oct 2009

MAZDA Motor Corporation plans to invest ¥292 billion ($A3.7b) in research and development over the next three years with a particular focus on electric drive technologies, including hybrid.

In a move designed to keep pace with its competitors, the Japanese manufacturer this week issued a notice that it would raise up to ¥95.9 billion ($A1.2b) in a share sale, with the bulk of this – ¥60 billion ($A753.6m) – to be used for research and development of “environment- and safe-responsive vehicles”.

The remainder will be used for capital investment.

“Research and development costs at Mazda group for three years ending March 31, 2012, is expected to be totalled to ¥292 billion as of October 5, 2009,” the notice said.

“Investment for environment- and safety- related development, such as investment for a series of next-generation products based on the improvement of efficiency of internal combustion and investment for development of the electric device technologies including hybrid technology, will be funded with a particular focus.

“In addition, the capital investment plan for the above period amounts to ¥150 billion ($A1.9b), which will be used for the production capacity and research and development facility aiming for an early introduction of the series of the next-generation products and electric device technologies referred to above.”

This increase in capital through the share sell-off is expected to reduce Ford’s stake in Mazda from 13.8 per cent to about 11 per cent. No other changes to the relationship between Mazda and Ford are anticipated, although the small shareholding the American auto giant now holds with Mazda – which was reduced from a controlling one-third stake in 2008 – is considered a weak point for Mazda when it comes to access to alternative powertrain technologies.

Mazda also last week revised its financial forecast for its fiscal year to March 31, 2010, predicting a much lower net loss of ¥26 billion ($A326.6m) compared to the ¥50 billion ($A628m) forecast in May.

The company said the improved forecast reflects a higher global sales volume, a weaker yen against the Euro and other currencies, and further reduction in fixed and other costs than previously assumed.

An operating loss of ¥13 billion ($A163.2) is now forecast for the year, down from ¥50 billion, with global sales expected to rise 55,000 units to 1.155 million.

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