The change in heart was revealed by Mazda's CEO Takashi Yamanouchi last week at the New York Auto Show. Speaking with Automotive News, Yamanouchi confirmed that Mazda will have hybrid and electric powertrains in its lineup by 2015, although the company will still be focusing on improving the efficiency of both its diesel and petrol engines.
Furthermore, Yamanouchi was confident enough to state that Mazda's next-generation of petrol engines will achieve the same fuel-economy as current diesels, and that its diesels will achieve the same fuel economy as existing hybrids.
Interestingly, despite the close links between Ford and Mazda, Yamanouchi claimed that new hybrid and electric technology will be "unique" to Mazda - although "if Ford desires, [Mazda] will be ready to see its technology".
Despite the shift in strategy, petrol and diesel engines will still play a large role in the company. The reasoning is that with hybrids and electric vehicles Mazda will be able to satisfy almost 90% of the car-buying public, and not just a limited segment of the market.