Mazda’s first mass market electric vehicle, the MX-30 crossover, is a good looking and unique EV that seems quite relevant in the current market context. However, if you compare its specs to other similar vehicles currently out, it’s not really that impressive.
With an official quoted range of 130 miles (around 210 kilometers) on a single charge of its 35.5 kWh battery pack (as per the WLTP test cycle, probably lower if tested by the EPA), its autonomy is not very competitive - in fact, it’s lower than that of the outgoing VW e-Golf or the pint-sized e-Up! and on par with the MINI Cooper SE’s (which has an even smaller 32.6 kWh battery).
But the MINI is about two seconds quicker to sprint to sixty and considerably punchier on the move, thanks to a 181 horsepower electric motor (the same as in the BMW i3S). The MX-30, on the other hand, has just 141 horsepower and takes a very leisurely 9 seconds to complete the benchmark sprint from standstill.
The thing is, you may be led to believe Mazda made its first ever EV slow and low-range because it’s a relatively small and independent manufacturer with limited resources (which we’re sure is part of the explanation). However, the Japanese automaker could have made its electric crossover better on both counts, yet it chose to limit it due to reasons explained in a recent report published by Autocar.
The U.K. publication quotes Joachim Kunz, Mazda’s European head of product development, who said the solution was chosen in order to minimize the vehicle’s environmental impact (including the entire manufacturing process). He expressed the company’s view that making and then running an EV with a large, 95 kWh battery pack, produces more CO2 than one of Mazda’s diesel cars across its lifetime (especially if its battery pack is replaced after 100,000 miles).
With a comparatively small 35 kWh pack, Mazda’s official point of view is that the MX-30 starts showing CO2 savings compared to a diesel car after 50,000 miles (a statement whose factual value is questionable at best). And since the pack is small in size, it’s lighter too and this contributes to making the vehicle more efficient than other EVs on a kWh per mile basis.
European commuters only travel an average of 35 miles every day, so the MX-30’s range should be enough for most buyers, especially in countries with good charging infrastructure (or those who can charge at home and at work). Even so, range anxiety is a real issue with EVs, and since other manufacturers are working hard to eliminate it, Mazda’s decision to keep the range low on purpose seems a bit questionable.
Regarding its performance, sure, its claimed sprint time sounds really slow for a modern EV, but then again it’s actually quicker than a lot of other battery powered rivals. For instance, it can out-accelerate the Kia e-Niro and e-Soul, as well as the Hyundai Kona Electric, and it is only marginally slower to sprint than the DS3 Crossback E-Tense or the Peugeot e-2008.
Mazda will tell you it didn’t give the MX-30 whiplash injury-inducing acceleration in order to make it feel more like a traditional gasoline or diesel burning vehicle. However, we suspect the real explanation is that they limited power so as to keep it from becoming a current guzzler; they wanted to maximize its range with the small battery pack they chose for it.
The truth of the matter is Mazda is not only lagging behind some other mainstream manufacturers when it comes to EV tech, but it also doesn’t have the necessary resources to even attempt to be a leader in the field (unless it partners up with another company). For instance, back when other automakers were investing heavily into hybrid vehicles, Mazda came out with its SKYACTIV program (that didn’t feature any form of electrification) and now it’s trying to catch up to the pack.