July 18, 2024


Automotive pure lust

Mazda’s crossover success key to EV future

Marumoto, speaking in a wide-ranging interview, said the plan will include the electrification of all nameplates by the end of the decade, including the sporty MX-5 Miata roadsters. The “vision study model” teased during the midterm plan announcement previews the next-gen Miata to highlight Mazda’s commitment to keep that car, even in the EV age.

Marumoto declined to say what kind of electrified drivetrain it might get. But tellingly, the renditions released by Mazda show a curvy, rear-slung coupe with no tailpipes.

Separately, Marumoto confirmed that Mazda’s famed rotary engine will finally return to market by March 31, the end of the current fiscal year. It will debut in a plug-in hybrid version of the MX-30.

Marumoto said Mazda eventually needs to build pure battery electrics within the U.S. for its biggest and most important market. That could come as soon as the second half of the midterm plan’s 2025-2027 Phase 2. Production will happen at one of Mazda’s existing factories, either in Alabama or Mexico, not at a new dedicated EV assembly plant.

Still, the timeline for actually doing so is anything but clear.

“There are so many things we need to research and study first,” Marumoto said, noting uncertainties about the supply chain, customer demand, and the local manufacturing and sourcing requirements laid out to qualify for U.S. EV tax credits under the new Inflation Reduction Act.

“Compared with two years ago, customers’ acceptance of EVs has really increased more than we expected,” he said. “I’m sure EV volume will continue to increase. But I can’t predict the timeline of EV penetration because there are so many uncertainties.”

Mazda now expects EVs to make up between 25 and 40 percent of its global sales in 2030. That is up from Mazda’s earlier outlook, which anticipated that EVs would account for just a quarter of all volume. But Mazda kept the target as a flexible range to account for all theunknowns.