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According to a report by The Yomiuri Shimbun, Mazda could be the first Japanese carmaker to begin selling diesel-hybrid cars in Japan and Europe as early as fiscal year 2016.

The report adds that the Hiroshima-based manufacturer is targeting a fuel economy of 40 km per litre with its diesel-hybrids, and suggests that the diesel engine will be the main source of drive, with an engine-powered small motor playing a supporting role.

Mazda currently has two diesel engines in its SkyActiv line-up – the 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D and recently-announced 1.5 litre SkyActiv-D. The latter made its debut under the bonnet of the new 2015 Mazda 2, which has recently been spotted testing in Thailand.

The sold-in-Japan-only Mazda 3 Hybrid (above) is a petrol-hybrid, mating the battery, control system, electric motor and eCVT from the Toyota Prius to Mazda’s own 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine. The result is a claimed fuel economy of 30.8 km per litre on the JC08 cycle.

PSA Peugeot Citroen and Mercedes-Benz both have diesel-hybrid vehicles on sale, denoted by the HYbrid4 and BlueTEC Hybrid monikers respectively.

We’ve spotted HYbrid4 variants of Peugeots 3008, 508 and 508 RXH estate, plus the Citroen DS5, here in Malaysia, and recently, British journalist Andrew Frankel drove from Africa to Britain in a Mercedes E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid on one 80-litre tank of diesel, averaging about 32.3 km per litre.

Diesel-powered vehicles account for half of new car sales in Europe. They’re also on the rise in Japan, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun – around 76,000 units found homes in the Land of the Rising Sun last year, which is about 1.9 times up on the year before.