Mazda may still be working to advance its state-of-the-art technology for combustion engines, but the automaker isn’t turning a blind eye to vehicle electrification. In fact, the company announced earlier today that it plans on offering a small batch of Mazda2 electric vehicles to Japanese consumers next year.
The automaker’s big push may lie with its new range of SkyActive technologies, designed to improve the efficiency of traditional gasoline and diesel engines, but executives acknowledge the company cannot abstain from developing other advanced propulsion methods, including battery electric vehicles and hybrids. Although the firm has dabbled with the latter, this new venture -- designed to evaluate EVs “for customers with short city commutes” -- marks one of Mazda’s largest EV projects to date.
Mazda has released few details on the new program, other than the vehicles will be based upon the subcompact Demio, which is sold in markets outside of Japan as the Mazda2. According to the automaker, the electric 2 should have a range of roughly 124 miles on a full charge, slightly eclipsing competitors like the Nissan Leaf.
Unlike the Leaf, however, this vehicle won’t be available to the general public, let alone customers outside of Japan. For now, Mazda plans on leasing a limited number of the electric 2 prototypes to various government and utility fleets located within its home country. Like similar programs crafted by other automakers pursuing a production EV, Mazda hopes to test its electric drivetrain in real-world scenarios while simultaneously studying the needs and requirements of drivers.
Will an electric 2 ever be offered to the general public? At this stage, it’s far too premature to say. We wouldn’t be surprised if a compact EV joins Mazda’s lineup in the future, but that may well be years -- if not decades -- away.