Mazda, a Japanese automaker known for producing safe gas cars without taking many chances, unveiled the first electric vehicle for the North American market on Wednesday.
The Mazda MX-30 electric crossover was unveiled, with plans to begin selling it in California dealerships this fall.
Mazda’s pivot comes amid a growing tide of investments in electric vehicles around the automotive industry. Mazda is known for concentrating primarily on fuel efficiency improvements in its gas engines.
GM, Volvo, and Jaguar have all recently announced plans to phase out gas cars in the coming years.
Despite Mazda’s denial on Wednesday, the launch of the MX-30 demonstrates how even value-oriented brands can’t avoid the winds of transition.
To be sure, the fact that Mazda will initially only sell the vehicle in California indicates that it will be a low-volume model.
In addition, the company provided few technical information about the vehicle. It refused to provide pricing details or an estimation of how far the vehicle will go on a single charge of electricity.
However, it said that a front-wheel-drive electric motor powered by a 35.5-kilowatt lithium-ion battery that can be charged to 80 percent capacity in 36 minutes using a direct-current quick charger would give the vehicle the equivalent of 144 horsepower.
In a tweet, Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda North American Operations, said, “Mazda is preparing for the fast-changing US market demands by taking a multi-solution approach to electrification.”
There will be both a plug-in hybrid and a conventional hybrid variant of the MX-30. Only energy is used in battery-electric vehicles. Electricity is used before gas in plug-in hybrids. Hybrids can use gas more effectively than traditional internal combustion engines, and can fly at low speeds solely on electricity.
Mazda revealed that the MX-30’s door grips would be made of cork, a highly sustainable resource that “pays homage to Mazda’s roots as a cork manufacturing company more than 100 years ago,” according to the company.
A centre console with an electronic shifter, a 7-inch touch screen showing the climate control panel, and the ability to lock or unlock the doors using an app are also included in the interior.