Is Mazda close to a new and sensational deal with Toyota over hybrids?

A deal that would see Mazda adapt Prius technology to create a new range of eco-busting Mazda hybrids, to hit the market within four years?

That, according to the current vibe in Japan, is what’s under discussion right now and an announcement, say informed sources, is expected "soon."

Desperate to get into hybrids, Mazda secretly approached Toyota over the supply of key hybrids bits (motor, battery, control units), so the story goes, with a target of selling 100,000 new Mazda hybrids per year by 2013. .

Mazda’s already had some limited hybrid action with Ford and in Hiroshima continues to work away on a hybrid system of its own, all that’s true.

But this Toyota tie-up would be a totally different ball game: much bigger scale and faster to market and on the face of it, so yes, the logic does seem to stack up.

One, Mazda wants a fast "in" to hybrids to boost its eco standing. Two, hybrid tech still costs an arm and a leg so by supplying Mazda too, Toyota can achieve vast economies of scale and bring in some welcome (and needed) extra cash. Third, such a deal would also help Toyota on its way to setting the de facto hybrid world standard.