Mazda will unveil its very first 100% battery electric vehicle at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, a production version of its e-TPV that it intends to sell only in countries with clean grid and plenty of charging infrastructure.
One of three new vehicles that the Japanese carmaker will introduce at the upcoming auto show, we first saw the e-TPV via spy shots caught in Norway in late August.
With an HG numberplate (EVs in Norway are usually denoted by EL, EV or EK) it was not entirely clear at first if this was the 100% electric vehicle promised by Mazda boss Akira Marumoto in June.
A later review of the prototype vehicle by CarSales proved it was in fact battery electric, and now Mazda has confirmed this via an announcement overnight (Australian time).
— Mazda Motor Euro PR (@MazdaNewsEU) September 25, 2019
But is it too little, too late, and will this battery electric SUV, which borrows much of its DNA from the Mazda CX-30, live up to standards of the current generation of modern EVs such as the Tesla Model 3 or the Hyundai Kona Electric?
Based on reports from CarSales’ review, not likely (Mazda’s announcement overnight has not given any solid details).
For a start, the prototype in Norway was only fitted with a 35.5kWh battery, smaller than the latest generation Nissan Leaf.
This is apparently built into the chassis using a “multi-directional ring structure”, which Mazda says reduces the driver’s perception of the car’s movements.
If the production version is delivered with this battery, best estimates are that it may delivery 250km driving range but in reality this means that 20-80% capacity on the battery will be well under 200km, more than enough for day-to-day commuting in the city but challenging for regional areas and day trips.
As for charge rate, it appears from the image released via the carmaker’s social media account that it will offer only AC charging – another indicator that this is a vehicle not destined for highways.
Its 105kW power output from the electric motor and 265Nm torque of the prototype is also less than that of Leaf, suggesting that Mazda’s hopes for its first battery electric effort are to say the least modest.
Indeed, it is only intended to account to 5% of Mazda’s sales by 2030, far less than goals of other legacy carmakers such as GM and VW who are throwing in the towel on petrol and diesel with the realisation that the future is electric.
These unambitious figures from Mazda suggest that the new EV is just for show – and that it is still also firmly hanging on its “lean-burn” Skyactiv-X technology.
Given Mazda’s intention to sell the battery electric SUV in countries with strong renewables, it is unlikely to reach Australia either.
Along with its announcement to unveil the battery electric SUV (which does not yet have an official name), the carmaker is also proudly introducing a new Mazda 3 (which often comes in the top ten for vehicle sales in Australia) with Skyactiv-X for the first time, yet not one hint of a BEV version in the works.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.