Mazda, the Japanese automaker known for delivering reliable gas cars but not taking many risks, on Wednesday introduced its first electric car geared for the North American market.
The company revealed the Mazda MX-30 electric crossover with plans to begin selling it at California dealerships in the fall.
Known for focusing largely on fuel efficiency improvements in its gas engines, Mazda’s pivot comes amid a rising tide of investments in electric vehicles across the automotive industry.
In recent months, General Motors, Volvo and Jaguar all announced plans to phase out gas cars in the coming years.
While Mazda made no such commitment on Wednesday, the arrival of the MX-30 shows how even value-oriented brands can’t ignore the winds of change.
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To be sure, the fact that Mazda will only sell the car in California at the beginning shows that it will be a low-volume model for now.
And the company revealed very few details about the car’s technical specifications. It declined to reveal information on pricing and did not provide an estimate on how far the vehicle would be capable of traveling on a single charge of electricity.
The Mazda CX-30 electric crossover. (Photo: Mazda)
But it said the vehicle would get the equivalent of 144 horsepower using a front-wheel-drive electric motor powered by a 35.5-kilowatt lithium-ion battery that can be charged up 80% capacity within 36 minutes on a direct-current fast charger.
“Mazda is preparing for the fast-changing US market demands by taking a multi-solution approach to electrification,” Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda North American Operations, said in a statement.
That will include a plug-in hybrid version of the MX-30 as well as a traditional hybrid. Battery-electric cars use only electricity. Plug-in hybrids use electricity before they use gas. And hybrids use gas more efficiently than conventional internal combustion engine cars and sometimes travel on only electricity at low speeds.
One detail Mazda provided: The MX-30 interior’s door grips will be made of cork, which is considered a highly renewable resource and “pays homage to Mazda’s origin as a cork manufacturing company more than 100 years ago,” the company said.
The interior also includes a center console with an electronic shifter, a 7-inch touch screen displaying the climate control panel and the ability to lock or unlock the doors using an app.
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