Mazda’s has announced that its Demio electric vehicle will begin leasing trials in Japan beginning from October this year, signaling its first step towards joining the electric movement. The independently-developed EV is based on the regular Demio (known as the Mazda2 here), and maintains the same cabin space and cargo carrying capacity as the base model.

The 1,180 kg vehicle is equipped with a 346 volt, 20 kWh lithium-ion drive battery pack and electric motor offering 75 kW of output power at 5,200-12,000 rpm and 150 Nm of torque from 0-2,800 rpm.

Performance specs include a 200 km driving range on a single charge (based on a JC08 mode test cycle, measured by Mazda) as well as a 120 km/h top speed. A full charge of the battery takes eight hours under normal charging, and on quick charge it takes 40 minutes to get the battery to 80% capacity.

Mazda will lease approximately 100 units of the EV in total, mainly to local governments and corporate customers in the Chugoku region of Western Japan, with a view of gaining valuable feedback about the car and its EV-based programme. Mazda is looking at getting its EVs out on sale in the market by 2018, but is anticipating that it will happen sooner than that official target.