- Mazda seems to want the MX-30 to feel like a traditional gas-powered car
- Japanese automaker to favor smaller batteries to reduce total CO2 emissions
- Mazda MX-30 EV expected to have around 130 miles of range (212 kilometres)
Mazda unveiled its first mass production fully electric vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show when they took the wraps off the new MX-30. A few things were evident about Mazda’s push into EVs the second the MX-30 became public.
For one, Mazda won’t do electric vehicles the traditional way. Instead of aiming for more range, the Japanese automaker prefers installing smaller batteries. The Mazda MX-30 is powered by a 35.5 kWh battery which is estimated to deliver between 110 and 120 miles. That’s about half the range (or more) of recent fully electric vehicles like the Hyundai Kona EV, Tesla Model 3 and updated Chevrolet Bolt. It also can’t compete with the Kia Soul EV, Niro EV or Nissan LEAF EV.
In a recent interview with AutoCar, Mazda Europe’s head of product development Joachim Kunz provided a bit of background on the brand’s EV strategy, but more on that in a second.
The most surprising part of of Kunz’ AutoCar interview was this little tidbit right here.
“Mazda’s engineers have also tuned the torque delivery of the MX-30’s electric motor to be less frenetic than is often the case with EVs, reasoning that they want the MX-30 to feel less like a dramatic change from a typical internal combustion engine vehicle.”
In other words, the MX-30 has apparently been set up to not offer what many would consider among the best features of an electric vehicle, the instant torque. If you’ve driven any EV before, you know what we’re talking about here. Press down on an electric vehicle’s accelerator, and the car jumps forward instantly. There’s no lag and no hesitation.
It doesn’t have to be a Model S or Taycan either. A Nissan LEAF could smoke a Mustang GT off the line thanks to its torque. For the first few feet, anyway.
Back to the subject, it appears from the quote above that the MX-30 won’t be like that. How exactly Mazda tuned down the torque is unclear, but we do know its electric motor will offer 192 pound-feet of it.
We kind of get what Mazda is trying to do. An EV behaves differently from a normal car and that alone can be a barrier to electric vehicle proliferation. If you make it feel like any other vehicle, more buyers will want to buy one, right? That must be the thinking in Hiroshima.
That instant torque may not be why people buy EVs primarily, but most electric vehicle owners we’ve spoken to over the years name it as one of the features they love most about their cars. There are a ton of Tesla drag race videos online highlighting this exact feature of EVs and the performance that comes with it. Point is, Mazda may be shooting themselves in the foot if this is true.
We’ll have to wait to see how exactly the torque is affected and how it translates on the road.
Smaller Batteries are Better?
Back to the MX-30’s smaller battery, again Mazda has a different take from the rest of the industry. Kunz told AutoCar that when you measure an electric vehicle’s full CO2 emissions from beginning to end, higher capacity batteries tended to produce as much pollution as regular vehicles.
According to Kunz, a 95 kWh battery will produce as much CO2 as a Mazda CX-5 diesel over its entire lifetime. A 35 kWh battery will remain more eco-friendly over the MX-30’s existence than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.
Therefore, Mazda believes that the key is a battery that’s just large enough to provide the range the majority of EV buyers will need.
The problem is, there’s always a big difference between what people want, and what people need. Mazda will have its marketing work cut out for it to convince buyers that less range is actually better.