Mazda to launch electrified cars from 2021
Mazda R&D boss says emissions regulations make electrification inevitable but pledges to keep developing petrol and diesel technology
Mazda will launch its first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in around five years’ time.
Until now Mazda has been a staunch advocate of continuing to develop regular internal combustion engine technology and give its cars the ‘right-sized’ engines, which are often larger in capacity than rival units with downsized turbochargers but which return better real-world fuel economy.
To that end, it has not pushed ahead with development of plug-in technology, but Mazda R&D chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara has confirmed the firm will launch a plug-in hybrid “in or after 2021”.
The reason, he said, was “severe, severe, tougher CO2 regulations”.
He also confirmed mild hybrid Mazdas with 48V sub systems were also in development to further improve fuel economy.
All-electric Mazdas should also arrive, according to Fujiwara, but the development of these was trickier due to the complex power control electronic management systems needed. “We don’t want to be a Galaxy Note 7,” joked Fujiwara, in reference to the problems Samsung is having with the battery management of its now-discontinued smartphone that caused many to catch fire.
Development of petrol and diesel technology will still continue at Mazda, Fujiwara said, and there are still improvements to be made with both. The biggest improvements will come with the adoption of homogeneous compression in 2018/19, he added.
Lightweight technology is also in development at Mazda, including carbonfibre and carbonfibre-reinforced plastics, but cost could be prohibitive to them making an immediate introduction on their most obvious candidate, the MX-5.
The overall target for all these technologies will be a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020. That date has been earmarked for the introduction of its next generation of models and its Skyactiv 2 technology.