The 2024 Mazda MX-5 is expected to adopt hybrid power before switching solely to electric propulsion.
Japanese manufacturer Mazda has confirmed its Vision Study Model concept is the preview of a battery-electric future for the MX-5 sports-car, but first it is set to adopt hybrid power.
Although Mazda says it has no intention of abandoning petrol engines, Mazda’s CEO Akira Marumoto confirms there is an electric future for the MX-5.
“To achieve carbon neutrality, we will proceed with electrification of those (MX-5) models. And we want to keep the joy of driving that is the essence of the Mazda brand,” Mr Marumoto, told US industry journal Automotive News.
“We will keep evolving that value. We are committed to continuing that.”
Asked directly about the Vision Study Model, which starred in a recent video presentation of the company’s three-phase plan for carbon neutrality – as previously reported by Drive – the top Mazda executive left little room for doubt.
“For me, it looks like the future MX-5. That’s an expression of our commitment to customers that we will keep providing such exciting vehicles,” Mr Marumoto told Automotive News.
It is unclear whether Mr Marumoto was talking about the next Mazda MX-5 due in 2024 – or the generation that comes after that.
Mazda sources indicate the next Mazda MX-5 (expected to be codenamed NE or NG) is likely to have a hybrid system – as previously reported by Drive – while research continues into a solely battery-electric model.
Meantime Mr Marumoto told Automotive News Mazda would not commit to an end date for petrol engines as it investigates hydrogen and sustainable fuels.
“Why would we close a route of technological innovation by saying we’re going to go 100 per cent EV (electric vehicle)? We should explore a variety of options. We are still in that kind of phase today,” he told the US publication.
“We have to ask why we are making EVs. The answer is to achieve a carbon-neutral society.
“Compared with two years ago, customers’ acceptance of EVs has really increased more than we expected. I’m sure EV volume will continue to increase. But I can’t predict the timeline of EV penetration because there are so many uncertainties.“
Mr Marumoto said Mazda is going back to basics for its latest electric research and planning.
“We have just started the research, so we can’t make a judgment yet. But we are doing research in chemical reaction because we want to understand the control technology.
“If we want the best battery control technologies, we need to understand the chemical mechanisms.”
“We use trucks to transport things within the company. For example, we mass produce engines here in Hiroshima (Japan) and transfer them to the Hofu assembly plant in Yamaguchi.
“We envision using carbon neutral fuel in that kind of transportation” Mr Marumoto said.