As a fan of Mazda, I can’t help but be rather disappointed by how it’s meeting the current moment. While other automakers are building battery plants, announcing huge new electric vehicle lineups and even issuing end dates for internal combustion, the “Zoom-Zoom” brand offers exactly one plug-in hybrid in its U.S. lineup, and it starts around $50,000.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand exactly why this is happening. Mazda’s a tiny, mostly independent automaker – one of the last, really – and it can only do so much on the powertrain front. But to date, any Mazda loyalists who also want to cut emissions and maybe even break up with gasoline have been sorely limited on options.
That seems due to change in just a few years. Buried toward the bottom of a new report from Automotive News today is confirmation Mazda finally plans to launch one battery-electric vehicle in 2025. This is from Mazda North America CEO Tom Donnelly, so it’s about as official as you get.
Granted, details were thin, but Donnelly did confirm “it will be an existing nameplate and likely a crossover, and said it will add more EVs depending on consumer demand.” The EV crossover could also effectively replace the CX-5, which has an unusual degree of product overlap with the CX-50. More from that story:
In the meantime, Mazda will continue the proliferation of plug-ins throughout its lineup.
“Plug-in hybrid is the right technology for the marketplace today, given any number of challenges in terms of infrastructure and everything else,” Donnelly said. “We’re committed to an electrified future, but for the near term, we feel like we have the right technology.”
And he’s not entirely wrong, of course. Hybrids, plug-in or otherwise, are an extremely useful tool for cutting down emissions right now, especially for people who may not have the means or infrastructure to make the full jump to EVs.
The trouble is that Mazda hardly has an extensive hybrid or PHEV lineup. There’s the CX-90 PHEV, which is excellent but large and pricey, and abroad there’s the slightly smaller CX-60 Hybrid and Mazda 2 Hybrid – the latter of which is a re-skinned Toyota Yaris. The Mazda MX-30 EV only had 100 miles of range and was only sold in California, and it was around for about five minutes before being canceled.
Clearly, Mazda wants to do more and better with this new EV coming (hopefully) in two years. That’s good news for anyone who appreciates the Japanese brand’s approach to driving dynamics, style, and attainable luxury, but also doesn’t see much value in gasoline engines anymore. And things are changing for the company. Last fall, Mazda announced it would ramp up to launch a slew of new BEVs from 2028 to 2030 and even forecasted those would be between 25 percent and 40 percent of its total global volume. It’s also in talks with a variety of new tech partners, including Panasonic for batteries, and it has close ties with Toyota and its own hybrid and upcoming BEV tech. Perhaps more importantly (for the gearheads, anyway) we may even get details on an electrified MX-5 Miata of some sort at next week’s Tokyo Mobility Show.
But as the auto industry goes increasingly electric, Mazda runs the risk of getting left behind – much to the chagrin of enthusiasts everywhere. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen, and that Mazda can find some way to accelerate this transformation, especially in North America, its biggest and most important market. Some of us would love to have the “Zoom-Zoom” continue into an electric future, even if the zooms are basically silent.