Mazda dips into electrified vehicles
Mazda's fun-to-drive persona will soon expand to electrified vehicles.
While other automakers jumped in the hybrid and electric vehicle fray years ago, consumer demand has been spotty. Mazda, a smaller company with limited development resources, has bought time by trying to squeeze as much efficiency as it can out of its combustion engines while the EV market develops. The brand has laid out plans to unveil three electrified vehicles in the next several years. Meanwhile, it has been adding more safety technology and premium touches to its vehicles in regular freshenings.
Mazda3: The latest update of the Mazda3, available as a sedan or hatchback, went on sale in August 2017 with its Smart City Brake Support system standard across all trim levels. The system automatically applies the brakes in emergency stops below 19 mph. It's rumored that a redesigned model, inspired by the Kai compact hatchback concept that was shown during the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, could make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November ahead of a 2019 launch.
Mazda6: The re-engineered Mazda6 hit stores in April with a revised chassis and new Signature trim level that positions it against premium competitors. The Signature trim, first offered on the Mazda CX-9 crossover, is available with Nappa leather seating surfaces, Japanese Sen wood interior accents and front and rear parking sensors, among other enhancements. A turbocharged Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter engine is newly available for the 2018 model. The flagship sedan received a new grille and interior. A spokesman said that while the 2018 model is technically considered a freshening because it shares much of its body with the outgoing car, the re-engineering underneath was so extensive that "it might as well be a new car."
MX-5 Miata: The 2019 MX-5 Miata is packed with upgrades in a comprehensive freshening that included a jolt of horsepower. The sporty two-seater gets a 26-hp boost from the previous model to 181 hp thanks to the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine, which is 17 percent more powerful than the previous version. It also got a new, standard rearview camera. Apple CarPlay is on the way as well. It went on sale in August.
Mazda CX-3: The 2019 version of Mazda's subcompact crossover hit stores in May with improved sound insulation and a refined 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine. It also received a redesigned center console and armrest as a result of the shift to an electronic parking brake, which allows for more storage space. A redesign could arrive in 2020.
Mazda CX-5: A redesign could arrive for the 2022 model year. The second-generation compact crossover hit the market in 2017. It was fitted with cylinder-deactivation technology to improve fuel efficiency. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert were made standard across all trims.
Mazda CX-9: The freshened 2019 model is coming this month. The brand's flagship three-row crossover will get Apple CarPlay, new suspension calibration, new wood inlays, increased sound deadening, more standard safety technology and ventilated seats. A redesign could emerge in 2022.
New crossover: Mazda formed a manufacturing joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. that will produce the Toyota Corolla and a yet unnamed Mazda crossover "that will be newly introduced to the North American market." The new Huntsville, Ala., plant will have the capacity to churn out 150,000 crossovers per year. Production is set to begin there in 2021.
New EVs: Mazda crafted a timeline that calls for a mild hybrid in 2019, a battery electric vehicle in 2020 and a plug-in hybrid that might appear in 2021. It's not yet known if these will be crossovers or cars. Mazda, Denso and Toyota signed a joint technology development contract for electric vehicles last September that will likely contribute to Mazda's EV rollout. The companies said that as countries implement "increasingly stringent policies to help reduce greenhouse gases, new regulations that mandate a certain proportion of electric vehicle sales are beginning to emerge." Compliance with these environmental regulations, the companies said, requires development of a wide range of powertrains and technologies to ensure sustainable growth.
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