In November, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai told The Wall Street Journal the company plans to “accommodate ZEV [zero-emission vehicle] regulations in North America” by 2019. Kogai was most likely referring to California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, enacted to push the sale of electric cars in an effort to meet California’s goals of cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Mazda is part of a second tier of carmakers that must begin adhering to the mandate in 2018.
In May 2015, the automaker signed a technical agreement with Toyota to collaborate on products, manufacturing and technologies, part of a rush of car manufacturers aiming to share development costs amid increasingly strict emissions standards. Toyota is believed to be supplying Mazda with powertrain components for future hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.
According to reports, Mazda’s first electric car will be low-volume, with an optional rotary engine range extender. CarAdvice quoted Mazda’s Head of Research and Development Kiyoshi Fujiwara as saying, “Probably by 2020 globally, five to 10 percent [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.”
Along with other small car manufacturers, Mazda fought for plug-in hybrids to be included in the “zero-emission vehicle” category, alongside battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
No word yet on what kind of electric car Mazda is planning to debut. Zoom zoom.