Mazda is one of the few carmakers still believing in the potential of internal combustion engines, especially it's signature rotary engine. However, the Japanese company is also aware of the need to adapt to the changing market and regulatory environment, especially in Europe. That's why Mazda announced a massive investment of around 10.3 billion euros in its electrification by 2030.
But what does electrification mean for Mazda? And how will it affect its European customers? In an interview with Automotive News, Martijn ten Brink, the president and CEO of Mazda Motor Europe, shed some light on the company's plans and vision for the Old Continent.
According to ten Brink, Mazda has yet to set a fixed date for phasing out combustion engines in Europe. Instead, it will follow the new regulations planned by the EU from 2035, which would effectively ban new cars with internal combustion engines. Until then, Mazda will remain flexible and offer a range of options for different customer needs and preferences.
"We want to increase our share of electrification as much as possible, but ultimately it is up to the market to decide," ten Brink said. He added that estimating the market development in the next 18 months is difficult due to its volatility.
However, he gave rough estimates of what Mazda expects for its sales mix in Europe by 2030. He said battery electric vehicles (BEVs) could account for between 40 and 70 percent of Mazda sales in Europe by then. The rest would be made up of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and mild hybrids (MHEVs) or even the Mazda MX-5.
This is a more ambitious goal than what Mazda has set for itself globally. The company aims to achieve a 25 to 40 percent share of electrified vehicles worldwide by 2030. "Europe is clearly a leader in electrification," ten Brink explained.
Currently, Mazda only has one BEV model in its portfolio: the MX-30. The compact crossover SUV has received mixed reviews due to its relatively high price and low range of 200 kilometers on a single charge. Ten Brink admitted that sales have been low so far, but he expects them to increase to around 10,000 units this year.
He also revealed that Mazda will launch two new PHEV models this year: an updated version of the Mazda MX-30 with an additional petrol rotary engine as a range extender and a new Mazda CX-60 midsize SUV. Together with the MHEV versions of other models such as the Mazda CX-30, Mazda CX-5, Mazda3 and Mazda6, ten Brink expects PHEVs and MHEVs to reach around 50,000 sales this year.
The rotary engine range extender is one of the most interesting features of Mazda's electrification strategy. It uses a small Wankel engine as a generator that charges the battery when needed, extending the driving range without compromising on performance or emissions. Ten Brink said that this technology could appeal to customers who want more flexibility and convenience than pure BEVs can offer.
However, he also said that it is still being determined whether this technology will be applied to other models besides the Mazda MX-30. He said that it depends on customer feedback and demand. He also pointed out that the MX-30's flexible platform could be a basis for other electric or hybrid models in different segments.
Mazda's European electrification strategy is based on two main principles: flexibility and customer orientation. The company wants to offer various options for different needs and tastes while complying with regulatory requirements. By doing so, it hopes to maintain its distinctive identity as a carmaker that values driving pleasure, innovation, and quality.