As Mazda looks toward 2020 and their 100th Birthday, today in Tokyo they have made an important announcement that sets them up perhaps for the next 100 – their first fully electric car.
CEO Akira Marumoto kicked off today’s announcement at the Tokyo Motor Show with the announcement of the MX-30 which is a small SUV type vehicle in looks, sitting somewhere above the CX-3 and well below the CX-5 in the range, and most similar to the yet to be released in Australia CX-30 Cross-over SUV.
It was also noted that by 2030 every Mazda will feature “e-Skyactive” electric drive technology. That’s the name Mazda gives to cars with electrification of their powertrain or engine.
In it’s most basic form, it’s the lowest level of electrification that drives a lower CO2 emission count and greater fuel efficiency – but it’s neither Hybrid or fully-electric.
Considering Australia’s battle with fossil fuels vs renewable energy, there’s something to be said for driving a car with an extremely low fuel consumption, vs an electric car recharged by coal-fired power. A debate for another day.
What’s fascinating about today’s launch of the MX-30 is the lack of focus on the usual electric car details. The battery size? The Range?
Nope. Mazda’s focus is on three things. Design, Their Doors, and the Joy of Driving.
The MX-30 is a completely new look Mazda, while continuing the design cues of the Kodo style we’ve seen in recent years. Inside the centre console “appears to float” and overall there’s a level of simplicity to the design.
But the doors, my goodness. There’s something fascinating about the design decision here. The doors are “freestyle” – like the RX-8 from 2003. The rear doors open from a rear hinge, only after the front door is opened – leaving an open design with no central pillar.
It’s fascinating firstly because in this format of crossover SUV you’d expect a rear door for easy rear seat access, and at a glance, the rear seat access seems somewhat restrictive.
And finally, the “Joy of Driving” – and if that’s something they’re critically focussed on, and we know they can do a sweet ride well (see the MX-5 for days!) – their take on the electric vehicle experience will be interesting.
Mazda have their own take on the way the accelerator should perform in an electric car, they call it the “Motor Pedal” and say “the motor pedal for e-Skyactiv uses Mazda’s own electric motor torque control system to realize the desired vehicle speed and posture control based on the driver’s intended amount of acceleration or deceleration. It seamlessly connects forward and reverse torque and supports smooth fore-aft G-force control ”
I suspect we’ll need to wait to drive it before we really understand what that means.
Mindfulness, Joy, Freestyle, all very non-electric in terms of how we’ve seen these types of cars announced in recent years.
But perhaps that’s exactly the point.
EFTM understands the MX-30 will have a range over 200km, based on the 35.5kWh battery which powers it. That sits it very close to the Hyundai Ionic in terms of electrification and is probably a decent gauge on price too. There’s no confirmation from Mazda Australia that the MX-30 will hit our shores, but if it does we’d expect it to sit in that $60,000 price range – hopefully not much more.
This car isn’t meant to take the fight to Tesla, this car is meant to bring EVs to the masses – thanks to a brand that we know Aussie’s love and flock to when it comes to passenger vehicles.
Pretty safe to say 2020 is the year of the Electric Vehicle.
Trevor Long travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Mazda Australia