When ICE Isn't Enough: Mazda's First Electric Still on Track for 2020, Plug-ins to Follow

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
when ice isnt enough mazdas first electric still on track for 2020 plug ins to

Despite the recent development of a high-MPG, low-emission gasoline four-cylinder, Mazda’s future depends on lowering its emissions footprint even further. With regulators — especially those in Europe — backing ever more stringent environmental standards, Mazda hopes to avoid Fiat Chrysler-like penalties by adding a product at odds with the brand’s heritage. An electric vehicle.

With the help of its partners, Mazda’s new EV will make an appearance next year, followed up with a crop of plug-in hybrids buyers are more likely to take home.

In an interview with Automotive News, CEO Akira Marumoto said the popularity of the compact CX-5 is a major reason why his company’s European fleetwide emissions target remains unmet. The declining popularity of small diesel-powered models is another factor.

While the innovative Skyactiv-X internal combustion engine will certainly help the company make strides towards its goal, Marumoto said, it won’t be enough. (European orders for Mazda 3 models equipped with the engine opened last week; North American customers remain in wait-and-see mode).

Turning to future products, Marumoto said “the first Mazda battery-electric vehicle will hit the market next year. Finally, we will introduce plug-in hybrid models from 2021 or 2022. So we will eventually achieve the target, although we will have some difficulties in 2020.”

Smaller than its Japanese rivals and lacking their impressive R&D capability (as well as cash reserves), Mazda fields zero hybrids or EVs in its lineup. This is where teamwork comes in. Two years ago, Toyota bought a 5.05 percent stake in Mazda, with the two soon joining supplier Denso in signing an agreement to “jointly develop basic structural technologies for electric vehicles.” Financially and technologically, the effort is being spearheaded by Toyota, which footed 90 percent of the bill. Mazda and Denso ponied up the remainder.

The nature of the looming EV isn’t clear, though its development, removed from the rest of the Mazda product line, will ensure it appears as a standalone model. As for plug-in hybrids, Mazda isn’t the first rival automaker to benefit from Toyota’s development prowess. Ask Subaru about that.

A new rotary engine that may one day appear beneath the hood of a Mazda sports car might also find a home in the brand’s electrified offerings.

“Its first application will be as a range extender for EVs,” Marumoto said. “Inside Mazda, we all have the dream of seeing one day a vehicle powered by a rotary engine. But given the number of things we have to do, we had to put this on the back burner, and we have no time frame.”

[Image: Mazda]

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6 of 17 comments
  • Mcs Mcs on Jun 10, 2019

    They should name their electrics RX and bill them as the evolution of the rotary engine. Show a gas rotary morphing into an electric.

    • See 2 previous
    • SPPPP SPPPP on Jun 10, 2019

      @Inside Looking Out Haha. The T-REX would be a great name. But, Mazda aspires to be the evolved soaring bird, not the stomping thunder lizard.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 10, 2019

    Mazda is a lot bigger than Subaru, by volume about 60% (1.6 million versus 1.0 million). Subaru is so dependent on the US, over 70% of its production is sold there, but at least Mazda is competitive worldwide unlike Subaru. Subaru is the dinky little auto company of Japan. What the post author thinks Toyota have taught Subaru is beyond me. The D4S in the BRZ/GT86 is about it. Subaru didn't take the bait on dual port and DI injection on any of its models after that initial fiasco and god knows how many replaced engines with popped DI injectors, chirping high pressure fuel pumps, etc. Toyota don't even know how to make their cars go around corners like Subaru, and subbed out the Supra to BMW. Toyota has a hybrid system that works - might as well flog it to its rivals in which it has some stock share and make some loot.

    • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Jun 11, 2019

      Suzuki left the exit door ajar when it left the USDM for the rest of the world where it actually is successful. Mazda, a company that does not seem to understand how to successfully compete in the USDM since parting with Ford, might be wise to use that door.

  • Theflyersfan As a kid, a neighbor had one of these full-sized conversion vans with the TV and wet bar in the back. And it was so cool to go in - as a kid it was, driving it had to be terror at times with blind spots, iffy power and brakes, and the feeling that you're hauling your living room with you! Kids of the 1970s and 1980s had this experience. Afterwards with minivans and then CUV everything, not so much.And I'm crushed that a 1977 van doesn't have some kind of mural on the sides. Coyote howling at the moon, American flag, Confederate flag, bright stripes, something! You can't have a 1970's era van with plain sides! At least a "Don't Laugh. Your daughter's in here" bumper sticker on the back. I always get a Gacy or Bundy vibe with these vans...
  • Jeff S In the EV market Tesla is not a niche player it is the major player. According to the latest data of the California-based vehicle valuation and automotive research company  Kelley Blue Book, Tesla has the lion’s share with 75 percent market share in  the electric vehicle market in the first three months of 2022.Tesla has dominated the electric vehicle market for years in the United States. The electric vehicles manufactured by Tesla accounted for 79 percent of the new electric vehicles registered in the United States in 2020 and 69,95 percent in 2021. The decrease in the market share in 2021 might be explained by backlogs and the global chip shortage, but the company is ramping up its sales and has already increased its market share to 75 percent in the first quarter of the year. According to Kelley Blue Book, the top 10 EVs sold in the US in the first quarter of 2022 are;[list=1][*]Tesla Model Y[/*][*]Tesla Model 3[/*][*]Ford Mustang Mach-E[/*][*]Tesla Model X[/*][*]Hyundai Ioniq 5[/*][*]Kia EV6[/*][*]Tesla Model S[/*][*]Nissan Leaf[/*][*]Kia Niro[/*][*]Audi e-Tron[/*][/list=1]Tesla has delivered 310,048 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022, another first-quarter record. The success of Tesla is proven once again as the company has three electric cars in the top 10 most selling electric vehicles in the United States, while no other manufacturer has even two different models on the list.Tesla leads all others, selling slightly over 936,000 units in 2021. This gave the company a market share of nearly 14%.Mar 30, 2022https://interestingengineering.com/transportation/tesla-ev-market-75-percent-market-share
  • Jeff S I did not know Plymouth had a full size van prior to the mini vans. I did know about the Plymouth pickups and the Trail Duster.
  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.