Mazda has given its clearest indication yet on the likelihood of an electric MX-5, but one big obstacle remains that will stop one from appearing in showrooms anytime soon.
The company is reportedly investigating the possibility of an electric MX-5, according to an interview between Mazda’s powertrain boss, Kato Matsue, and Top Gear.
However, Matsue-san says current battery technology doesn’t allow for a light enough kerb weight, an essential ingredient of the MX-5 recipe.
“That’s a possibility,” Matsue-san said of an electric MX-5. “The MX-5’s main markets are the United States, Europe and Japan. Japan is a bit behind, but the market demand is changing towards electrification. So we need to think about that.”
The company only has plans for two more EVs before 2025, but between 2025 and 2030 it will roll out a new dedicated electric vehicle (EV) platform called the SkyActiv Scalable EV Architecture.
“By 2030 all our products will have some electrification. So that means the sports car is not outside of that scope. But I can’t say exactly when we’ll introduce a battery on the MX-5 at this moment,” Matsue-san said.
When asked about possible obstacles for an electric MX-5, he said weight was the main obstacle.
“We don’t want to have a very heavy MX-5. So if the MX-5 is 1.5 tonnes of peak weight, that is not the MX-5,” he said.
“Thinking about our development duration [until 2030], seven years is a short time.
“I don’t expect power density to become two or three times [better] compared to the current power density. Of course I expect better, but I don’t think that will happen,” he continued.
Matsue-san went on to emphasise how important emotion is in a sports car, citing the company’s motto.
“What I can say is the MX-5 is our symbol. If the MX-5 becomes a battery EV, that battery EV should have very special characteristics, Jinba Ittai feeling, human centric of our basic concept philosophies. That’s our hope,” he said.
Jinba Ittai means “horse and rider in perfect harmony”.
Mazda is set to reveal an MX-5-based concept car called the SeDV at the upcoming Japan Mobility Show, which could preview a future direction for the iconic sports car.
The brand will have a number of MX-5s on show, including a first-generation MX-5; a two-thirds scale MX-5 that provides “a simulated driving experience for visiting children”; the latest 2024 Mazda MX-5 which was detailed last week; as well as the MX-5 SeDV concept, which “can be controlled using only the driver’s hands”.
SeDV stands for “Self-empowerment Driving Vehicle”, but it remains unclear if the concept will preview a future model, or just provide a glimpse into the future plans for the iconic sports car nameplate.
Top Gear also quizzed the powertrain boss on the return of a rotary-powered sports car, referencing the rotary-powered range extender version of the MX-30.
“I still have the RX-7 in Japan, so I really love [it]!” Matsue-san responded.
“I would expect that kind of super sports car [eventually], but after the [mid-term] plan.”
Rivals for a potential electric MX-5 are currently few and far between.
The upcoming MG Cyberster is the closest rival, being a two-door electric sports car. Two drivetrain options are available, with the rear-wheel drive model making 231kW, and the all-wheel drive model boasting 250kW.
However, kerb weight is between 1850kg and 1985kg – over 700kg heavier than a base Mazda MX-5, and 280-415kg heavier than the brand’s ZS EV electric crossover.