Mazda is ready to jump into electric cars in earnest after years of sitting on the sidelines. CEO Akira Marumoto told Automotive News Europe in an interview that his company will introduce an EV in 2020.And no, this won’t be the result of its partnership with Toyota — this mysterious initial model will be built on “a Mazda architecture.”
The automaker is catching up on hybrids, too, with plug-in models (notice the plural) coming in “2021 or 2022.”
Not that Mazda has much choice. The EU is tightening its emissions targets, and Mazda’s fleet CO2 output is well above where it needs to be by 2021.If Mazda doesn’t produce more eco-friendly cars, it’ll have to either pool with another manufacturer to lower its emissions figures (like Fiat did with Tesla) or pay substantial fines for every vehicle sold. And its cleaner Skyactiv-X combustion engines won’t be enough — it’ll have to go electric to stand a chance.
Mazda’s most popular vehicle in Europe is the CX-5 with CO2 emissions ranging from 128 g/km to 150 g/km. On top of that, for a small automaker, the size of potential fines has material effect on the R&D budgets necessary to develop the technologies that will lower emissions, and whatever EV Mazda launches in 2020 needs to sway legions of customers into purchases to be of practical use. This will be challenging. A line in the IHS Markit summary about the industry in general states, “Once in 2021 and subject to full WLTP regulatory monitoring, only a seismic shift (over the baseline) in consumer demand for BEV (‘Electric-Plug-In’) and PHEV (‘Hybrid-Full Plug-In) will result in the full mitigation of EU28 fleet level excess emissions premiums.”