Mazda is preparing to keep its sports cars alive after they go electric, teasing in a media presentation what could be the battery-powered successor to the MX-5.
Japanese automaker Mazda has announced it will spend 1.5 trillion yen (AU$16 billion) on developing battery-powered vehicles by the end of the decade – while also previewing an electric sports car concept that could possibly preview the next MX-5 represents.
In a media presentation on youtubeMazda shared a sneak peek at the electric Vision Study Model shortly after an assembly of the four generations of the MX-5.
While the Mazda MX-5 has been powered exclusively by petrol engines since its launch in 1989, recent reports from overseas have suggested that its forthcoming fifth generation will be the first to adopt hybrid powertrains.
In February 2022, a patent for a hybrid system with three electric motors, four-wheel drive, an automatic transmission and a compact battery was uncovered.
This was followed in September by a report suggesting that the ‘NE’ generation MX-5 could instead be powered by Mazda’s 2.0-litre ‘SkyActiv-X’ engine from the Mazda 3 and CX-30, possibly with additional hybrid support.
With the fifth generation Mazda MX-5 expected to arrive in 2024, it’s not clear if the Vision Study Model will affect the successor to the current model – but there could be a preview of an electric version of the sports car.
Mazda has previously confirmed that the MX-5 will adopt hybrid or electric powertrains by 2030, in line with the company’s broader plans for its model lineup.
“[Without speaking specifically] With the MX-5, I think we’ve reached a level of comfort where there’s work on the batteries, there’s work on other things. With SkyActiv-X we can improve the internal combustion engine [petrol engine technology] and beyond, and Mazda is working on that,” said Alastair Doak, Mazda Australia Marketing Director journey in February.
“If you can combine that kind of technology and that kind of thinking with a relatively light form of electrification, it means the car and that kind of ethos are here to stay.”
In addition to the brief sports car teaser, Mazda executives outlined the company’s “three-phase” plan to reduce its carbon footprint, beginning with the development of hybrid and electric cars.
The first phase of the plan reiterates an announcement made in June last year in which Mazda claimed to introduce five new plug-in hybrid models between 2022 and 2024, along with three electric cars.
Mazda’s second phase involves a new hybrid system for its models, due to launch between 2025 and 2027 – although details on the electrified engines have yet to be confirmed.
Finally, Mazda claims it will expand its EV charging to battery-powered models between 2028 and 2030, with the Japanese company considering investing in its own battery production.
By 2030, the automaker estimates that electric cars will account for 25 to 40 percent of its global sales. At the same time, petrol and diesel powered cars will be banned in markets like the UK.
Mazda currently sells only one electric car worldwide – the small SUV MX-30. Mazda Australia only imported 100 examples of the MX-30 Electric, but the slow uptake of this variant has resulted in some dealers offering discounts of up to $15,000.
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