Mazda, a manufacturer with exactly zero electric or hybrid vehicles in its lineup, plans to join the gas-free fray at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. The hesitant automaker recently announced plans to field a fully electric vehicle in 2020, with a plug-in hybrid following a year or two later.
The question now is: what form will Mazda’s first EV take?
Speaking to Automotive News, Mazda spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai said the vehicle debuting next month will be a “brand new model,” though a test mule borrowing the body of Mazda’s new CX-30 small crossover has been spotted tooling around. Surely, Mazda can take one look at its sales chart to see that going the non-CUV route with this new introduction is a recipe for meager sales.
That said, the prototype carries a 35.5 kWh battery and an electric motor that’s good for 141 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. In overseas markets, the subcompact Hyundai Kona carries an entry-level 39.2 kWh pack, with a 64 kWh unit for uplevel and North American customers. How small will this vehicle be?
Being a relatively small manufacturer, Mazda does not have the same resources and development dollars as Toyota or Honda; as such, the model is expected to borrow the architecture of an existing ICE model, rather than go it alone on a dedicated platform. And while Mazda does have a strong partnership with hybrid-happy Toyota, the EV is expected to be an in-house effort.
The unnamed model is also expected to gain a range-extended version bearing a rotary engine, though perhaps not at introduction. As for which markets Mazda has in mind for the vehicle, that info will have to wait until October.