Long lauded for its peppy but efficient gasoline engines, Mazda eyes both diesel and electrification to meet tailpipe emissions standards over the next decade while straining to remain true to its brand identity.
- Mazda will launch its first-ever EV in 2020; PHEV will follow in 2021 or 2022.
- First EV separate from the jointly developed electric vehicles Mazda will create with Toyota.
- By 2030, all Mazdas will include some form of electrification.
There’s an odd thing going on in the automotive powertrain space right now, all in the aims of the efforts being made in order to adhere to increasingly stringent global emissions standards.
A brand like Volkswagen, for example, who has long championed diesel, has virtually walked away from the fuel (for obvious Dieselgate reasons). Instead of diesel, VW has gone all in on electrification, planning to build 22 million EVs by the end of the next decade.
At the same time, and in order to comply with the same emissions guidelines, Mazda — a Japanese brand long known for innovative and distinctive drivetrains — has been forced to embrace diesel. This is truly a peculiar time in the automotive business.
Last week, Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto sat down with Automotive News Europe (subscription required) to discuss the brand’s future — both on the continent and also in terms of emissions and electrification. Marumoto revealed that Mazda will launch its first-ever pure-electric vehicle next year.
As of last week, Mazda is a part of Toyota’s new conglomerate of Japanese carmakers toiling together on electrification. Despite that compact, the first-ever Mazda EV will be built on an in-house Mazda platform and not a jointly developed Toyota/Mazda chassis.
Mazda will also follow the EV with a plugin hybrid (PHEV) in 2021 or 2022, Marumoto admitted. Leaning in on its passion for, and history with, unique engines, Mazda will use one of its infamous piston-free rotary engines as a range-extender for its EV — or, presumably, PHEVs.
Oddly enough, at the same time most automakers are investing in long-range battery tech for the large-scale vehicles global car buyers currently crave, Mazda is going another route. Marumoto stated that Mazda is confident that diesel hybrids systems make for the ideal power plant for larger vehicles.
“We believe for SUVs and large sedans, the most efficient powertrain will be a diesel coupled with an electric motor,” he said.
Further more, by 2030, all Mazda vehicles will include some form of electrification.
Will Mazda’s undeniably beautiful designs and its love for the automotive inane help keep it from folding like origami in the coming years? I’m not totally sure. Yes, its partnership with Toyota to develop EVs will undoubtedly help matters. It may however, just be delaying the inevitable.
Without being fully absorbed by a larger, more cash-rich brand, it’s hard to imagine a marketplace where a weird (I mean that in the best possible way) brand like Mazda remains viable. Heck, even a giant like Toyota is worried about its ability to survive the coming electrification and mobility business model shift. If one of the biggest carmakers in the world is shaken by the prospects, Mazda should be downright petrified.
Plus, its wanting to spend money not in mobility but in unique engines. While engineering nerds will appreciate it, such efforts don’t do much for the bottom line. So, although I appreciate the thought, it’s not one that will likely keep the lights on for very long.