Mazda to shift R&D spending toward green cars: report

(Reuters) - Mazda Motor Corp will devote a larger proportion of R&D funding to the development of hybrids and other environmentally friendly vehicles, raising the ratio from just above 20 percent in fiscal 2010 to about 40 percent in fiscal 2015, the Nikkei business daily said.

In the current fiscal year, the carmaker earmarked 100 billion yen for group R&D spending, up 15 billion yen from fiscal 2009, of which slightly more than 20 percent will go toward developing green cars, the paper said.

Mazda is expected to spend an average of 100 billion yen on R&D each year through fiscal 2015, and will increasingly push more of the pie toward eco-friendly vehicles, the daily said.

The company also intends to step up efforts to improve energy efficiency for gasoline-powered vehicles, such as a compact sport utility vehicle with a new engine that is 10 percent more efficient than those in existing models, the daily reported.

Mazda, which has lagged behind rivals in green cars, plans to start manufacturing and selling a hybrid as early as 2013, the paper said.

A capital boost of 100 billion yen, conducted last autumn, and a tie-up with Toyota Motor Corp in hybrid technology made it possible for the firm to move full-speed ahead in this field, the paper said.

Reporting by Soham Chatterjee in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy