Mazda’s MX-30 PHEV is finally coming with a smaller battery and V2L… but only in Europe

Mazda has finally announced the long-rumored MX-30 plug-in hybrid, the MX-30 R-EV. This hybrid uses a small rotary engine as a range extender.

The new MX-30 R-EV was unveiled at the Brussels Motor Show today, though Mazda’s press release is tight on details. All we note is that the car will have a battery of 17.8 kWh, good for a range of 85 km (53 mi) in the WLTP test cycle. That battery packs half the EV’s 35.5 kWh and is paired with an 830cc rotary engine and a 50-liter (13-gallon) gas tank. It will be available in a new ‘R Edition R’ trim and color (pictured above) and will be equipped with a 1.5kW V2L ‘power supply function’.

At first glance, the R-EV’s lower range (with half the battery capacity and less than half the range) might offer a less efficient car, but if the R-EV carries the EV’s ~5kWh battery storage capacity, it means two efficiency gains it looks almost the same. The R-EV is 58 kg (127 lb) heavier than the EV and slightly more powerful (168 hp, up from 143 hp), so both cars have similar performance.

The R-EV will be capable of 36kW DC fast charging, below 50kW for an EV. Both of these are pretty pedestrian numbers in this day and age, with 350kW chargers popping up all over Europe. But PHEVs generally don’t rely on DC fast charging when they need a quick charge, so that’s less of an Achilles heel for a car with a range extender under the hood.

Mazda will offer drivers a choice of three control modes to manage the engine – ‘normal’, which uses the electric motor mainly until the battery charge is low or the driver lets off the accelerator, and ‘EV’, which will force the engine to idle. “Charge” that will prioritize the gas engine in order to be able to maintain a certain battery charge percentage if possible. Drivers can set their own preference percentages and this can be used to navigate through the various EV-only zones spread around some European city centres, for example.

In terms of price and availability, the R-EV will start at the same base price as the EV, as Mazda says it wants to offer buyers a simpler decision to choose the powertrain that’s best for them, and it should begin shipping to various countries. next quarter.

Earlier this week, Mazda announced that the MX-30 EV will return to California after spending the better part of a year on the road, with no comment on whether it will return for the 2023 model year. In its first model year, Mazda planned to sell a paltry 560 cars in California alone, and ended up selling 505 units. This MX-30 EV is not available anywhere else in the US, nor is the newly announced PHEV.

Electrek’s Take

The MX-30 has had a somewhat tortured existence thus far. First announced as an all-electric car, it was praised for its sleek looks, mature interior and interesting suicide doors.

But as Mazda started talking and showing the car, it became increasingly clear that it… didn’t really want to make an electric car. Mazda announced before the car even came out that it artificially decelerates and “feels like a gas car.”

Then, while driving the car, we noticed a lot of design decisions that seemed more suited to having the engine than the battery. Not only did all the electrical badges look temporary, but there’s also a huge gap under the hood just waiting to be filled with an engine:

Mazda says their strategy is to offer the appropriate powertrains for each region based on the region’s needs, which has evolved into EVs for Europe and California, traditional “mild” gas hybrids in other regions, and now PHEVs for Europe.

But why? The US has greater distances, and US “road travel culture” is often cited as something that (wrongly) drives people away from EVs. PHEVs allow drivers to stay in electric drive for most of the drive, but still have a tank for cruising down the road, so it looks like it will work for the US.

In Europe, however, electricity seems to work very well, with some cities banning internal combustion engines, and the entire continent covered by a quality train network to travel between cities if necessary. Gasoline prices in Europe are also much higher than in the US, and there is a strong reason not to want to use oil – its main supplier, Russia, decided to start an unjustified war in Europe, so most of the oil was burned directly on the continent. finances the war.

But there is a problem – incentives. In Europe, despite the factors mentioned above, PHEVs are actually more common than in the US, as it is quite common for companies to buy or lease the vehicles to employees as company cars, and companies receive incentives for these vehicles. These cars are generally plug-in hybrids, and they are also generally never plugged in.

Meanwhile, in the US, California requires manufacturers to sell a certain amount of zero-emission vehicles or they have to buy expensive ZEV credits from other automakers, so manufacturers often only sell EVs in California to meet these regulations. These half-baked EVs are called “compliance vehicles,” and they’ve been a common way for manufacturers to get around California’s ZEV regulation over the past decade.

It seems like a big part of Mazda’s real rationale for these cars isn’t what customers need, but how they can best game the system in each terrain.

It’s a shame because this could be a good PHEV. 85km/53mi is still a longer range than other PHEVs on the market, while we hope for a full 35.5kWh paired with a smaller engine, like the old BMW i3. And that’s enough to cover most people’s daily needs, so it’s entirely possible that many R-EV drivers will be able to go months, or even a year, without refueling.

But the problem is that there are still many people who will never plug in their car. PHEVs have therefore been found to achieve less efficiency than the stickers claim. While it’s tempting to think that by putting, say, 3x20kWh PHEVs on the road instead of one 60kWh EV, the calculation breaks down if people don’t plug in those PHEVs. Just by using batteries that can be plugged into something that doesn’t use fossil fuels, you end up with a slightly more efficient gas-powered bunch down the road.

We also like Mazda’s announcement of price parity between the R-EV and the EV. Many other cars have cheaper PHEVs, which makes no sense since you’re getting two powertrains instead of one. The BMW i3 got it right again – a PHEV it really was more More expensive than an EV, it highlights that an EV is a better deal for both buyers and the environment. And the i3 was paired with a small gas tank, again emphasizing that it will be used as a backup instead of the giant 50-liter tank on the MX-30.

Most importantly, it does not make sense to have the car only in Europe. Mazda, you screwed up the MX-30 EV and everyone knows it. Not great. But in theory you have a great-looking car designed as a PHEV with a competitive price and a better package (ie, greater EV range) than the competition.

But, like the EV itself, it feels like you don’t actually want to sell it. Prove us wrong. If you are proud of this product, let people buy it.

Now… Electrify the Miata, next. Please? Come on. We have been asking for a long time!

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