First Mazda EV to Bow Next Month

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
first mazda ev to bow next month

Mazda, a manufacturer with exactly zero electric or hybrid vehicles in its lineup, plans to join the gas-free fray at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. The hesitant automaker recently announced plans to field a fully electric vehicle in 2020, with a plug-in hybrid following a year or two later.

The question now is: what form will Mazda’s first EV take?

Speaking to Automotive News, Mazda spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai said the vehicle debuting next month will be a “brand new model,” though a test mule borrowing the body of Mazda’s new CX-30 small crossover has been spotted tooling around. Surely, Mazda can take one look at its sales chart to see that going the non-CUV route with this new introduction is a recipe for meager sales.

That said, the prototype carries a 35.5 kWh battery and an electric motor that’s good for 141 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. In overseas markets, the subcompact Hyundai Kona carries an entry-level 39.2 kWh pack, with a 64 kWh unit for uplevel and North American customers. How small will this vehicle be?

Being a relatively small manufacturer, Mazda does not have the same resources and development dollars as Toyota or Honda; as such, the model is expected to borrow the architecture of an existing ICE model, rather than go it alone on a dedicated platform. And while Mazda does have a strong partnership with hybrid-happy Toyota, the EV is expected to be an in-house effort.

The unnamed model is also expected to gain a range-extended version bearing a rotary engine, though perhaps not at introduction. As for which markets Mazda has in mind for the vehicle, that info will have to wait until October.

[Image: Mazda]

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  • SPPPP SPPPP on Sep 17, 2019

    What, no haters? No "too little too late" or "behind the times"? Where did everyone go? Speaking personally, I am curious to see how the new model shapes up. It could be pretty neat. So far, "success" for EVs in North America means something pretty modest. I like Mazda's prudent approach of using partnerships to develop their EV. I hope it helps get more EVs ... good EVs ... on the road. I think, if any car company can develop an EV for people who like to drive, it's Mazda. (I don't think it's that company that works out of California ... they seem to be hung up on people NOT driving.)

    • See 1 previous
    • Luke42 Luke42 on Sep 18, 2019

      My Mazda5 is an OK car, and does what I need it to do. My next car will be an EV. Mazda is making an effort to earn my business next time around. There's nothing much else to say. While the obvious choice for me is a Tesla Model Y or a used Model X, I will give the Mazda full consideration when I order my EV in the spring/summer. The Mazda folks will have a fair shot at earning my business! Hard to find fault with that!

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Sep 17, 2019

    Honestly, I'm surprised by this news. A rotary range extender is a dead end. Mazda should have killed off rotary development a decade ago; all it did was siphon away precious resources. BMW is killing off the i3, including its range extended version. Chevy killed off the Volt, which is essentially a range extended hybrid. PHEVs sell - at best - in the hundreds (if you're Honda or Toyota), so Mazda can expect to sell dozens every month in the US. As a guess, this CX-30 based BEV might be good for 140 miles range. That's not competitive today, but it still might be an interesting vehicle.

    • Luke42 Luke42 on Sep 18, 2019

      I'll see what they announce and go from there. The car to beat is the Tesla Y and 3. That's some pretty stuff competition. A range of less than 200 miles would make it a 2nd tier choice. No matter which car is best, I get to pick the better one. I win!

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Sep 17, 2019

    Too little too late and behind the times.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Sep 18, 2019

    I for one am excited for the range-extended version. Plenty of battery for normal driving, unlimited range for road trips -- with the smallest, lightest, smoothest possible ICE. Sure, ICE MPG will suck balls, but 35.5 kW of battery plus fast-charge provisions will keep actual ICE miles pretty minimal.

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