Japanese manufacturer will introduce an EV to meet emissions legislation in the US and China
Mazda Motor Corp. has said that it plans to launch an electric car in the United States in 2019.
“We’ve set the goal at 2019 to accommodate the ZEV [zero-emission vehicle] regulations in North America,” CEO Masamichi Kogai told reporters last week. This will be followed by a plug-in hybrid model in 2021 or later.
California, for example, has ambitious ZEV regulations, and will be one of the main driving forces behind the company’s push into US electric transportation.
Kogai said that the as-yet unnamed EV would be differentiated from its rivals, although he did not explain in what ways.
The CEO also said that Mazda may jointly develop electric motor-control technology with Toyota Motor Corp., reported the Japan Times. “Toyota’s motor-drive technology is way ahead (of us),” he said. In May 2015, Mazda agreed to cooperate with Toyota on next-generation technologies.
The move is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, and marks a growing movement in the Japanese auto industry towards at least recognising the need for EV development, even if it is not a full overhaul of their offering. But, as the FT notes (paywall), a sense of solemn scepticism of EV technology still seems to hang over the country’s market.
Moreover, the news was broken as Kogai discussed the launch of a new diesel-powered CX-5 range (pictured) for the US next year. Whatever Mazda’s intentions with electrification, fossil fuels clearly remain at the top of its list of priorities. Recent comments by senior managing executive Kiyoshi Fujiwara attest as much. He told Australian media at the Los Angeles Motor Show that: “Probably by 2020 globally, five to 10 per cent [of vehicle sales] will be pure EV, while the other 95-90 will still use ICE (internal combustion engine). Therefore ICE is [still] the most important technology all over the world.”