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Old 07-07-2004, 06:09   #1 (permalink)
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Mazda may build Tribute hybrid; vehicle would borrow from Ford

Mazda may build Tribute hybrid; vehicle would borrow from Ford

By YUZO YAMAGUCHI | Automotive News

TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp. probably will offer a hybrid version of its Tribute SUV in the United States, according to company sources.

The vehicle would borrow technology from Ford Motor Co., which owns 33.4 percent of Mazda. "We could use a hybrid powerplant that Ford develops," says a Mazda insider. He would not discuss timing for the vehicle.

The small Mazda SUV is based on the Ford Escape. Ford will launch a hybrid version of the Escape this fall.

A hybrid version of the Mercury Mariner, a derivative of the Escape, is due in 2006. In 2007, Ford plans to sell a hybrid-powered mid-sized sedan.

Hybrids are powered by an electric motor and a gasoline- or diesel-powered engine. A larger battery stores power for the electric motor.

Hybrids burn less fuel than the equivalent vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine.

The gasoline-powered Tribute accounts for about 20 percent of Mazda's U.S. sales. Sales of the Tribute in the United States totaled 49,512 in 2003, a 10.1 percent jump from the previous year. During the first five months of 2004, Tribute sales fell 19.7 percent from the year-ago period, to 17,087.
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