In a recent interview with Automotive News Europe Mazda President and CEO, Akira Marumoto, confirmed that the first production EV based on Mazda architecture will go on sale in 2020. Until now, the Japanese carmaker has been slow – or plain reluctant – to move towards EVs, citing its brand uniqueness, especially around ICE powerplants, as a key reason. However, with stringent European emissions targets approaching and Mazda lagging behind, it would seem like its hand has been forced.
By 2021 Mazda will need to have fleet average emissions of just 95g/km of CO2 to comply with European emissions regulations, however as it stands, Mazda's average fleet emissions are at a hefty 135.5g/km.
To hit the target, Mazda is first and foremost pinning its hopes on its Skyactiv-X technology which is said to blend the best elements of petrol and diesel, delivering sub-100g/km emissions. The second string to its bow mentioned by Marumoto will be the brand's fabled battery electric vehicle. And finally, Mazda is working on rolling out PHEV variants of its model range in 2021-2022. It admits, however, that this schedule will see it struggle to get its fleet emissions down in the short term.
With regards the continued development of powertrains, Mazda is being very open about the fact that much of its development is concentrated on next-generation petrol and diesel, albeit with electric assistance. In the interview, Marumoto stated: “We believe for SUVs and large sedans, the most efficient powertrain will be a diesel coupled with an electric motor.”
He continued: “In our technology vision to the 2030 horizon, all vehicles will have some form of electrification. That applies to diesel engines as well.”
While Mazda's first EV is set to be based on Mazda architecture (with the model to be confirmed, but plausibly the CX-30), we can expect its EVs thereafter to be jointly developed with Toyota. Mazda has already entered into an 'emissions-pooling' deal with Toyota (through which each manufacturer can meet emission targets by averaging their combined fleets) so it is a logical move for them to combine their expertise in the development of EV platforms.
Genuine details about where this joint development is going have been scant, but Toyota has recently released details of its EV platform future, albeit in conjunction with Subaru rather than Mazda. Quite where – and whether – Mazda will fit in with Toyota's recent news remains to be seen but the simple fact is that for all its reluctance, Mazda is gradually acquiescing to the reality of an EV future.