Report: Mazda Plans an Electric Vehicle for U.S. Market by 2018

Call it a little less zoom zoom, and perhaps a little more hush hush: Mazda is reportedly developing an electric vehicle, and if all goes according to plan, it could launch in North America by 2018.

Automotive News spoke to Mazda Chief Engineer Mitsuru Fujinaka recently. Fujinaka said that adding an EV (or multiple models) is imperative to keeping the Mazda brand alive and healthy in states like California, where emissions and fuel economy regulations are tightening.

The identity of the all-electric car is unknown, although we’d be keen to mention that the company is poised to start leasing an all-electric 2 Hatchback – or Demio, as it’s known in several markets – within Japan. That car boasts a 105-horsepower electric motor in place of its gasoline engine, along with a lithium-ion battery pack that provides up to 124 miles of travel on a single charge. Mazda says a full recharge takes about eight hours on a 200-volt outlet, but a fast charger can provide an 80-percent charge in 30 minutes.

Because the Demio EV is just an electric version of the current Demio/2 hatchback, it doesn’t use any of Mazda’s existing Skyactiv technologies, especially the lighter, stronger Skyactiv-Body architecture. There’s a reason for that: Fujinaka told Automotive News that, evidently, an electric vehicle can’t be easily based on the Skyactiv-Body architecture.

Fujinaka declined to give details on exactly why, but it would appear from official diagrams that the new Skyactiv-Body doesn’t support the typical practice of placing batteries in the floor of the car. After all, much of Skyactiv-Body’s torsional strength comes from reinforcing the floorpan and underbody. That structure would need extensive revision to accommodate a battery pack.

Source: Automotive News (Sub. Required)