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June 22, 2021updated 24 Jun 2021 9:02am

Mazda goes electric – what’s coming and when?

Even with the backing of Toyota, Mazda remains cautious when it comes to the spending that's needed for future electric vehicles.

By Glenn Brooks

The company’s approach to electrification has so far been replete with innovation and cleverly targeted investments. That also seems to be how it plans to continue, sharing JVs in technology and manufacturing, developing super-efficient engines and sticking mainly to the most lucrative vehicle segments.

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A steady evolution towards intended premium brand status is something else that’s helping Mazda to mitigate the costs of the EV era.

Far from wanting to become ever bigger, the Hiroshima-based OEM prefers to focus primarily on maximising margins from each future vehicle programme. And it has quite a few fascinating projects edging ever closer towards series production. Let’s take a look at some.

Cars

There is still some uncertainty over how the 2 will be replaced. The J20 project may have evolved into two cars. The one built in Asia should be based upon Mazda’s own SkyActiv platform whereas another model manufactured by Toyota in either France or the Czech Republic will use Toyota’s TNGA-B architecture. The latter would likely use the same powertrain as the Yaris Hybrid. An announcement is expected soon.

The fourth generation Atenza (6) was to be based on the SkyActiv 2 architecture with build again taking place in Japan, China and Russia. Now, sources claim that production won’t commence until 2022 and that the project has been switched to Mazda’s forthcoming next generation rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive architecture. That would explain why the current model has been allowed to become so old.

The new platform also means that in-line six-cylinder engines should be available for the US and certain other markets. The new straight six will be available in 3.0-litre and 3.3-litre forms, each one a mild hybrid. There is a diesel in this family too.

The company will attempt to shift the 6 into the segment where the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class set the standard: a risky move. Nonetheless, if the car looks like the Vision Coupe concept from the 2017 Tokyo motor show (see image above), then perhaps Mazda stands a chance of attracting buyers of premium brand sedans and estates.

While 4.6-4.8 m long sedans still sell very well in China, demand from non-premium makes has collapsed in the US. The segment for saloons, hatchbacks and estates of this size has shrunk in Europe too. Mazda’s alternatives are therefore either what it is reportedly planning or to instead reinvent the 6 as a competitor for the Model 3 – perhaps even making it a hatchback. As it isn’t known whether Tesla makes any money from that car, the former appears to be the better option.

The third generation 6/Atenza will have been in production for more than a decade by the time the replacement is launched (2022). It should have a seven-eight year life cycle with one-two facelifts, taking it to 2030 and generation five then being an EV.

The next Roadster (MX-5) is probably as far off as 2024. As per the current model, the car should be manufactured in Japan for eight-ten years.

SUVs & Crossovers

The second generation Flair Crossover debuted in February 2020. The first one was powered by a 658 cc three-cylinder engine and came in both front- and all-wheel drive forms. The same applies to the replacement.

This tiny vehicle is built by Suzuki and supplied to one of Mazda’s domestic market sales channels. As with the original, it is a version of the Suzuki Hustler. Expect facelifts for both next year and successors in 2025. These will likely go electric or at least be available with that option.

Mazda recently said that it “aims to” electrify its entire line-up by 2030. And while relevant models have been slow in appearing, the pace is set to accelerate. There will, for example, soon be an electric CX-30. Exclusively for China, this is also where all production will be.

The CX-30 e-Skyactiv is to be manufactured by the Changan-Mazda joint venture. Advance information indicates that a single motor will produce 162 kW (217 hp), the top speed limited to 160 km/h and an NEDC range of 400 km.

J34A is the code for what could be badged CX-40. This special SUV for North America will be manufactured alongside the Corolla Cross and Corolla Cross Hybrid at Mazda and Toyota’s Huntsville joint venture plant in Alabama. Initially, this new factory was scheduled to manufacture a Mazda SUV and the Corolla. These plans changed and in July 2019 Toyota told the media that its model would instead be a new SUV.

The CX-40’s architecture should be Toyota’s TNGA-C. Mazda stated in November 2020 that there would be a Toyota hybrid powertrain. This information was disclosed in the financial results for Q2 of fiscal 2020-2021.

The official model name for the ‘CX-40’, images of the vehicle and other details will be revealed soon. Production is due to commence in the fourth quarter. We can expect a seven-year life cycle with a facelift for the 2025 or 2026 model year.

The third generation CX-5 will surely use Mazda’s yet to be seen RWD-AWD platform. Production will likely be in the same plants which build or assemble the existing model. Some sources have suggested that the name could switch to CX-50.

A CX-6 (or CX-60) crossover-coupe linked to the next CX-5 should arrive in 2022. Employing the new RWD and AWD architecture, that means optional straight six engines for relevant markets.

As for where the CX-6 will be built, that should be at either Hofu 1 or Hofu 2 in Japan and also in China at a Changan Mazda joint venture factory in Nanjing.

BT-50

The current generation of Mazda’s only ladder frame pick-up is a joint venture with Isuzu, whereas the original BT-50 was Ford Ranger-based. Production started in September 2020 with sales commencing immediately in the Thai market followed by Australia, the number one export destination.

The supply deal is for ten years so there will probably be a facelift in 2025 and a PHEV or perhaps an EV option around the same time if not sooner. For now though, the only engine is Isuzu’s 2,999 cc four-cylinder diesel. This has outputs of 140 kW (190 PS) and 450 Nm (332 lb ft).

The 5,280 mm long BT-50 has the same 3,125 mm wheelbase as the Isuzu D-Max.

The main markets are in Oceania, ASEAN, Central and South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Wankel-electric

Mazda is developing an electric vehicle which has a Wankel engine as a range extender (REEV). It will be closely related to the CX-30 and MX-30. As for a name, RX-30, RX-30e, RX-40 and RX-40e have all been suggested.

A rotary has several advantages over a petrol engine: it has lots of power and is inherently small with minimal NVH. The combustion engine will also run on LPG, the company says. This was made official in an October 2018 media release.

Speaking to the media in October 2020 at the media launch of the MX-30 mild hybrid, Mazda’s CEO Akira Marumoto said the rotary range extender vehicle wouldn’t be in Japanese dealerships until the first half of 2022.

There is uncertainty over the length of the production life cycle. It might only be three years if the ‘RX-30’ turns out to look identical to the CX-30 and MX-30 as those models will have been on sale for quite some time when the REEV is launched.

Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of Just Auto.

Future platform intelligence

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of GlobalData’s Automotive Intelligence Center. That includes multiple Mazdas not mentioned in this report for reasons of space.

General Motors will be the next OEM to have its forthcoming vehicle plans explored.

 

Free Report
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What does the future hold for the US electric vehicles market?

The US Electric Vehicles (EV) market has established itself as one to watch. Despite China maintaining the number one spot, the US holds significant standing as one of the major EV markets, with GlobalData’s whitepaper identifying a strong growth trajectory within the forecast period. This report further analyzes the trends, market drivers, and government incentives set to influence and facilitate the market.   This report also looks beyond the US and touches on environmental concerns set to drive the EV market worldwide.   Want to find out more? This report demonstrates GlobalData Explorer’s sector analysis capabilities, showing how you can:  
  • Get historical and forecast market sizing data, with country specific insight for 22+ of the world’s largest industries
  • Track sector dealmaking activity, to view aggregate volumes, specific deals and top investors for all major deal types in M&A, Capital Raising, and Partnerships
  • Analyze news from GlobalData Explorer’s News Database – enable screening and alerts by industry, company, geography and news sentiment for filtered insight
  • Identify and track the key disruptive trends that are keeping the top digital thought leaders talking through social media analytics
  Consult this report now to find out how you and your company can benefit from our Explorer platform.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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