The model could get a range extender variant with small rotary engine.
Mazda believes as much as 10 percent of new vehicle sales will be pure electric cars by the end of the decade. That’s why the Japanese brand won’t wait too long before it releases its first-ever EV.
According to the company’s head of research and development, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda’s own electric car will be introduced by 2019. Speaking to Car Advice at the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show, he confirmed the manufacturer will reveal an EV three years from now.
“Of course we need EVs,” he said.
“As you know, in Norway, the complete energy source is water… this means that EV is much better for CO2 in Norway. But not in United States or China… Therefore we are focusing on ICE, but some regions we need EV, so therefore in 2019 [or] in that time frame we will introduce EV where it is needed in the world.”
For now, the company will stay focused on vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (ICE), as the major part of the customers is still searching for that kind of cars.
“Probably by 2020 globally, five to 10 percent [of new car sales] will be pure EV, while the other 90-95 percent will still use ICE. Therefore, ICE is [still] the most important technology all over the world,” Fujiwara commented.
Fujiwara also confirmed Mazda is still in discussions with Toyota on a possible cooperation on the project. Expect to see a low-volume electric vehicle with an optionally available small rotary engine as a range-extender.
“We are developing the Mazda system by ourselves, but in terms of commercialization, whether some of the portions should be shared or not, that’s the discussion point,” he declared. “Volume is not so big, so in terms of the business, what kind of the part or unit should be shared, it’s better for both companies, we haven’t decided yet, [we are] still discussing.”
Mazda and Toyota are currently in a “mutually beneficial long term partnership” and share a factory in Mexico, where the Mazda2 Sedan and the Toyota Yaris iA are manufactured.
The shape and size of the Mazda’s first EV are not known at the moment, but it’s clear that the vehicle won’t be designed from scratch, but will instead be based on an existing platform of an ICE car. This will reduce the resources needed for development, and will make the car more affordable.
“If huge battery volumes are required then yes [we need a new platform], if not then a unique platform is not required. As you remember we have a range-extender unit provided by rotary engine, that system can help with some distance. We will be able to have two systems.”