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Mazda coupe concept accompanies $16 billion EV announcement

Mazda has announced it will increase its EV development budget, but many online are more intrigued by a coupe concept shown afterwards.

The Vision Study concept made its debut at the end of a video celebrating the four generations of the MX-5.

The round and slinky two-seat, two-door coupe could provide clues about the next-generation MX-5 or some other MX-branded electric sports car.

It’s just as likely that this car will turn out to be just a design concept. Mazda has a recent track record of debuting pretty sports car concepts that are rumoured for production, but which get kiboshed for various reasons.

As part of the company’s revised “mid-term management plan” Mazda now plans to invest ¥1.5 trillion ($16 billion) to develop electric vehicles as part of a three-phase strategy.

In the first phase from now until 2025, Mazda will develop its new dedicated EV architecture while releasing hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.

In announcement in the middle of 2021, Mazda said it would launch five full hybrid, as well as five plug-in hybrid models between now and 2025. 

It had also planned to unveil three pure electric models or variants during the same time period. It’s unclear if these vehicles are still scheduled for launch.

The company’s new rear- and all-wheel drive architecture, which underpins the CX-60, as well as the upcoming CX-70, CX-80, and Australia-bound CX-90, supports not only a new generation of inline six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, but also plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid systems.

As part of the second phase from 2025 to 2027 it will “introduce EV-dedicated vehicles” in China “where electrification is advancing”, as well as “battery EV vehicles globally”.

Given the odd wording here, the China-focussed models may use a different platform or be distinct in some other way from EVs sold elsewhere. 

Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto said the firm is also considering expanding its EV production footprint to include the US to take advantage of the tax incentives on offer there.

In the third phase from 2027 onwards Mazda will “promote the full-fledged launch of battery EVs”. The automaker will also, at this point, consider bringing battery production in-house.

Key technologies, such as batteries, chips and motors, for Mazda’s expanded EV push will be developed in conjunction with joint-venture technical partners.

Despite the increase in development spend, Mazda didn’t provide any further details about the EV models it plans to launch, or the dedicated SkyActive Scalable EV Architecture it is developing and which is set to debut in 2025. 

It now expects 25 to 40 per cent of its global sales to be pure EVs by 2030. An earlier forecast estimated that electric cars would compromise just 25 per cent of the sales mix by the end of the decade.

The company didn’t provide EV sales estimates for different region, describing the situation as “fluid” due to changing regulatory factors. The EU will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel passenger cars from 2035, while California is planning to permit only EV and PHEV sales from that date. 

Mazda says it is aiming to be fully carbon neutral by 2050, with its factories becoming carbon neutral by 2035. 

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