By on April 15, 2021

Mazda’s first electric vehicle will arrive in the United States later this year, though technically it’s just going to be California while the manufacturer considers the viability of selling to regions beyond the West Coast. The rollout makes sense as America’s 31st state has been hungrier for electric vehicles than other parts of the country.

But the 2022 MX-30 will only begin its life here as a battery-powered product. Mazda has said it’s also planning to sell a plug-in-hybrid version of the crossover equipped with a gasoline-dependent rotary engine/generator sometime in 2022, making it something that might be able to stand on its own in areas where the distance between charging points makes owning a pure EV unpalatable. 

Truth be told, we think the latter model will ultimately be the biggest success story in the U.S. due to the MX-30 EV’s rather small battery pack. While not particularly impressive, the front-drive crossover’s 143 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque should be sufficient in helping drivers keep up with the surrounding traffic. But the default lithium-ion battery pack only has a maximum capacity of 35.5 kWh, leaving us fretting about the probability of range limitations.

For comparison, the Chevrolet Bolt uses a battery that maxes out at 66 kWh and delivers 260 miles of range under the most idyllic of circumstances and the Nissan Leaf (equipped with the base 40-kWh battery) will achieve around 150 miles before it needs an outlet. Unless Mazda has outfitted the MX-30 with the most impressive energy management program currently in existence, we’d wager that it’s not capable of breaking 100 miles with any regularity. But we’ll have to wait to see what the EPA says before we formally accuse it of being a perpetrator of the dreaded range anxiety. Europe’s WLTP cycle claims 124 miles but those numbers always end up being lower when put into practice.

DC fast charging is available, though it appears to be a step behind the competition. Mazda is claiming an 80 percent charge in under 36 minutes — which kind of places it in the middle of the pack. However, this is entirely dependent upon what type of charging stations you have access to. Those who only bother recharging their vehicle after they’ve tucked it in at night probably won’t care that the Tesla Model 3 can technically take on juice faster.

Though Mazda isn’t actually targeting vehicles like the Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model 3 with the MX-30 — even though it’s technically sized between them. In Europe, the little crossover mainly competes with a bunch of EVs that are likely too petite for the United States, listing the kind of ranges that would keep them locked into an urban environment. There, it’s going up against the Renault Zoe and Peugeot e-208. Here, it’s really only going to have to worry about the Mini Electric and Nissan Leaf … assuming Mazda can keep the price tag near or below $30,000.

Lower is definitely better.

Mazda has stated in the past that the reason the battery pack is kind of small on the MX-30 is to keep efficiency high and production costs low. With the EV competition retailing between $32,000 and $40,000 being incredibly stiff for such a niche segment, Mazda would be very wise to try and keep its distance. Unfortunately, it still may need to fall back on its curb appeal and desirable driving dynamics to make up the difference. Models selling in Europe (right around $35,000) are making us worry that the crossover will come to our shores foolishly overpriced, though the domestic Japanese MSRPs are substantially lower.

The MX-30 PHEV with the SkyActiv-R rotary range extender is supposedly coming next year, presumably identified as 2023 model year vehicle, and we’re substantially more interested in what it will be offering. While we’ve heard that it will run nearly silently, using the gasoline motor to help recharge the battery instead of propulsion, Mazda has remained hushed on the project as it focuses on marketing the EV version.

[Images: Mazda]

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19 Comments on “2022 Mazda MX-30 EV Arrives in California This Fall, Rotary PHEV to Follow...”

  • avatar

    How much smaller/lighter, and how much less efficient, than an “equivalent” piston engine will the rotary be?

    Packaging becomes tight if you need both meaningful battery range AND an ICE generator in a compact crossover. So there may well be a nice niche for the rotary. I hope so, since rotary engines are just plain cool……

    • 0 avatar

      A small Wankel could be a lot smoother than a one cylinder engine, but they just can’t make it clean enough or efficient enough to make sense. But I also also think it’s cool.

  • avatar

    That’s a Mazda fan I don’t know if they could afford to set the bar this low. It just seems that this will been better suited for 8 years ago. In my mind the minimum overall range really should have been about 225.
    Although I like the overall design with the interior and exterior looking rather handsome and distinct I really wish they would have went for a traditional four-door crossover.
    Unless they come out with one fairly quickly right after this they’re only going to sell about a 500 of these per year. In my mind the electrification should have started with the CX-9 and the CX-5 ssized vehicles. Like I said before I am one of the biggest fans but this is a giant missed opportunity.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    While the rotary engine’s compact size makes packaging easier and its smoothness avoids any NVH problems, my understanding is that its design inherently is thermally inefficient. So, I’m wondering how that’s going to work out. Likewise, once the battery’s depleted, how will the “range extender” do at propelling the vehicle. Maybe ok in urban stop and go traffic, but on the highway?

  • avatar

    I don’t know if we’ll be getting the rotary PHEV or the range extender EV version (I’m guessing the former), but I’m looking forward to this car. It may not be an RX-8 replacement but probably a better BMW i3. I wonder how much of the rotary engine whine we’ll be able to hear.

    Pass on the BEV.

  • avatar

    150 miles is going to be the right range for a *lot* of use cases, while saving considerable expense and weight compared to 250- or 300-mile EVs. A 150-mile EV could replace nearly all of the second or third cars in America without causing the owners any heartburn.

    But 100 is a bit too short.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “while the manufacturer considers the viability of selling to regions beyond the West Coast. The rollout makes sense as America’s 31st state has been hungrier for electric vehicles than other parts of the country”

    This thing is a dud in every sense of the word.

    Yes, the BEV range will end up around 105 miles. Even my 19 Ioniq EV – a larger vehicle with 4 actual doors and a hatch – gets an actual 124 miles on a small 28 kWh battery. So this Mazda is going to get 20% less range with 25% more battery.

    Then, Mazda is going to employ the tried-and-failed tactic of only selling it in California, which guarantees limited sales in a very competitive EV environment. They’ve chosen to lose.

    Sadly, the rotary range extender is just a consolation prize to the engineers who have worked a decade on that dead-end technology with no vehicle to put it in.

    Range extenders are quickly going extinct anyway with the constant improvement of BEVs. PHEVs sell in small numbers for the same reason. Hopefully, this range extender won’t behave like the BMW i3 REX, which would barf on a long grade and leave the driver with a massive power loss while passing traffic.

    They’ve created a handsome car inside and out, but they should have just put a 2.0T in it with a “Sport” badge on the side. This is just another example of how Mazda has lost its way.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, Mazda has 2.4% market share in California. Tesla has 4.2%. So it’s likely Mazda does have room to break into that market, especially with the purchase subsidies. Also worth noting – Mazda is the #15 auto brand in California. They outsold these brands:
      Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi*, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Genesis, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Maserati, Mini, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Volkswagen*, Volvo.

      * Aren’t these guys supposed to be the “all-in” EV pioneers? They apparently have a taller hill to climb than Mazda, at least in California.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Mazda has been stuck at ~2.0% or less market share in the US for decades.

        But Mazda’s overall market share isn’t relevant to the question about the MX-30. It’s an noncompetitive vehicle that won’t take anything from the EVs offered by others.

        Even if the MX-30 amounts to 5% of Mazda’s CA sales, we’re only talking about 1000 cars. That number could fall off the container ship and nobody would notice.

  • avatar

    144 hp and 100-mile range will keep it off my list. The danger is that Mazda will damage its reputation. If they ever actually come out with something competitive, they’ll still have a bad reputation from the first car.

    I’m also not sure if they have investments in advanced battery tech. Tesla is investing in new tech, Toyota has their solid-state battery probably on its way, VW has QuantumScape, and GM has it ultium battery tech. What does Mazda have? If the new battery tech gives the companies 600+ mile ranges in their low-end vehicles with the new battery tech, where does this leave companies like Mazda stuck with conventional lithium ion? Range extenders might not work if we start seeing range anxiety coming to ICE vehicles in areas with large EV concentrations at the end of the next decade.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota and Mazda are in a vehicle development team-up right now. Unless Toyota decides to push Mazda off a cliff, it’s likely that Mazda will get access to Toyota’s solid-state battery. If future batteries get more energy-dense, then Mazda’s small battery automatically becomes a bigger battery, and the range problem gets smaller.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      “Range extenders might not work if we start seeing range anxiety coming to ICE vehicles in areas with large EV concentrations at the end of the next decade.”

      I think creating more and larger problems for ICE vehicles is how the auto industry plans to get us all into pure EV’s. I notice that fuel tanks – and thus driving range – keep getting smaller. Notice also that powerplants keep getting more and more anemic – at least among vehicles that most of the driving public can afford. In another decade, people will likely think that that EVs aren’t so bad – even if they are.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “powerplants keep getting more and more anemic”

        Are you looking at the same market I am? A 10-second 0-60 is considered slow these days, and 4-cylinder Camrys are in the mid-7s. The RAV4 Prime is 5.4 seconds, thanks to its electric motor.

      • 0 avatar

        “people will likely think that that EVs aren’t so bad – even if they are.”

        Bad?? What EVs have you driven? The slowest thing Tesla makes does 0-60 in 5.3 seconds. A lowly Chevy Bolt 0-60 in 6.5 seconds. Instant torque and V-12 smoothness. They’re a lot of fun to drive.

        • 0 avatar

          If I needed to travel 200 odd feet in a straight line, It’d still be quicker to walk than to unplug my Tesla, get in, and then gun it downrange for 5 odd seconds, park it, get out……

          What is an awful lot more relevant than how quickly it may or may not make to 60, is how fast it gets from Bishop to Battle Mountain via Middlegate. Something it doesn’t…… And even if it did, it would still be stuck in Battle Mountain…

          Talk about waste perfectly good, hard to obtain, ingredients; which could be usefully employed in products more suitable for being battery powered.

          And even if Tesla, given access to enough central bank theft from actual productive people, eventually do manage to drive up “home” prices in Reno enough to send enough commuters to Austin to warrant putting a Supercharger there: You’d still have the problem of only being able to complete the above trip, at speeds way below what is safe and prudent for the roads out there.

          Again rendering their 0-60 battery toy a complete and utter waste. No different from the similarly hopeless attempts at making cars by other totalitarian states beholden to illiterate five year planners for their allocation of scarce resources.

          BEVs make sense for small, light, short range, “city” or commuter vehicles. Electric drivelines, and their packaging, are remarkably more efficient for such usages than even the most compact ICE ones. And in dense cities, zero tailpipe emissions actually may matter a bit. Not to mention how useful electric propulsion is for kick scooters and pedelecs.

          But dragging a literal ton of battery around, just so you can, on a good day, drive medium distances slow enough to hold up grandmas on sedatives is, again, nothing but complete and utter waste.

  • avatar

    This thing looks great outside, truly. Inside is less successful with a Marriott hotel lobby pallette.

    But who made the decision to go low range-EV-California-only and then follow that up with some sort of rotary PHEV? It’s like they want to throw away money and create a niche product. Make it a standard hybrid with a 2.0 turbo or whatever (smaller engine), and sell it everywhere.

    Worry about niche things later after you have obtained more market share. Nobody who wants a hybrid cares about rotary tech.

  • avatar

    A couple of (Canadian) points:

    1) The MX-30 is also coming to British Columbia and Quebec this fall – the two Canadian provinces with the highest EV subsidies and an EV mandate for manufacturers with escalating penalties.

    2) The PHEV rotary range extender will not propel the vehicle like the range extender in the BMW i3. It is strictly to charge the battery on the go. Propulsion will be EV only in the PHEV as well.

    3) I look at range like I look at towing capacity in a truck. Some people need more, some people need less. You know who’s going to buy this? Elderly people, especially women, who want to make the switch to an EV, who live in an urban or suburban setting and don’t drive long distances – or have something else in the driveway for that task.

    It’s stylish, it will have good visibility, good cargo capacity and be easy to get in and out of.

    Not every truck needs to tow 21,000 lbs and not every EV needs 300 miles of range.

  • avatar

    A lightweight, primarily electric vehicle with about 100 miles of range would be great for almost all my tasks. Having a backup engine for potentially “unlimited” range would fill in the rest very nicely.

    Unfortunately, it is FWD. I’d prefer RWD or accept AWD, but it won’t be sold near me anyway.

    I’d at least test drive one. I did not like the feel of the Prius I test drove, and would prefer a full EV from a company with a reputation for reliability and simplicity. Most EVs are plagued by “futuristic” garbage. I would rather have range anxiety than fiddle with an app to adjust air vents while driving.

  • avatar

    I don’t know why ALL cars aren’t made with the doors that open like this. Previously the Rolls Royce was the only car that has it. Makes it SO much easier to get in/out. That, and round vents instead of the terrible rectangle or square ones that are limited in their ability to direct air in ANY direction. Can’t do that with those rectangle things.

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