Mazda’s first electric vehicle will arrive in the United States later this year, though technically it’s just going to be California while the manufacturer considers the viability of selling to regions beyond the West Coast. The rollout makes sense as America’s 31st state has been hungrier for electric vehicles than other parts of the country.
But the 2022 MX-30 will only begin its life here as a battery-powered product. Mazda has said it’s also planning to sell a plug-in-hybrid version of the crossover equipped with a gasoline-dependent rotary engine/generator sometime in 2022, making it something that might be able to stand on its own in areas where the distance between charging points makes owning a pure EV unpalatable.
Truth be told, we think the latter model will ultimately be the biggest success story in the U.S. due to the MX-30 EV’s rather small battery pack. While not particularly impressive, the front-drive crossover’s 143 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque should be sufficient in helping drivers keep up with the surrounding traffic. But the default lithium-ion battery pack only has a maximum capacity of 35.5 kWh, leaving us fretting about the probability of range limitations.
For comparison, the Chevrolet Bolt uses a battery that maxes out at 66 kWh and delivers 260 miles of range under the most idyllic of circumstances and the Nissan Leaf (equipped with the base 40-kWh battery) will achieve around 150 miles before it needs an outlet. Unless Mazda has outfitted the MX-30 with the most impressive energy management program currently in existence, we’d wager that it’s not capable of breaking 100 miles with any regularity. But we’ll have to wait to see what the EPA says before we formally accuse it of being a perpetrator of the dreaded range anxiety. Europe’s WLTP cycle claims 124 miles but those numbers always end up being lower when put into practice.
DC fast charging is available, though it appears to be a step behind the competition. Mazda is claiming an 80 percent charge in under 36 minutes — which kind of places it in the middle of the pack. However, this is entirely dependent upon what type of charging stations you have access to. Those who only bother recharging their vehicle after they’ve tucked it in at night probably won’t care that the Tesla Model 3 can technically take on juice faster.
Though Mazda isn’t actually targeting vehicles like the Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model 3 with the MX-30 — even though it’s technically sized between them. In Europe, the little crossover mainly competes with a bunch of EVs that are likely too petite for the United States, listing the kind of ranges that would keep them locked into an urban environment. There, it’s going up against the Renault Zoe and Peugeot e-208. Here, it’s really only going to have to worry about the Mini Electric and Nissan Leaf … assuming Mazda can keep the price tag near or below $30,000.
Lower is definitely better.
Mazda has stated in the past that the reason the battery pack is kind of small on the MX-30 is to keep efficiency high and production costs low. With the EV competition retailing between $32,000 and $40,000 being incredibly stiff for such a niche segment, Mazda would be very wise to try and keep its distance. Unfortunately, it still may need to fall back on its curb appeal and desirable driving dynamics to make up the difference. Models selling in Europe (right around $35,000) are making us worry that the crossover will come to our shores foolishly overpriced, though the domestic Japanese MSRPs are substantially lower.
The MX-30 PHEV with the SkyActiv-R rotary range extender is supposedly coming next year, presumably identified as 2023 model year vehicle, and we’re substantially more interested in what it will be offering. While we’ve heard that it will run nearly silently, using the gasoline motor to help recharge the battery instead of propulsion, Mazda has remained hushed on the project as it focuses on marketing the EV version.