Mazda Canada confirmed this morning that the plug-in Mazda MX-30 compact crossover is slated to arrive in Canada this fall, and perhaps surprisingly, it will launch as an all-electric SUV with fairly limited range. A rotary-powered gas range extender is slated to arrive later on to help boost how far the MX-30 can travel on one charge, which judging by its European model, will likely be rated at less than 200 kilometres range here.
The MX-30 will also feature RX-8-style ‘freestyle’ doors that gives Mazda’s plug-in MX-30 only two exterior door handles, just like the well-loved RX-8, Mazda’s last rotary-powered sports car. That spinning triangular rotor was a smooth yet sporting engine technology that helped cement Mazda’s long-standing reputation for ‘zoom zoom’ driving fun, along with the Miata that Mazda calls the MX-5 these days.
Like in the BMW i3 EV, these doors also mean that any passengers in the back seat of the MX-30 have to wait for the larger front doors to open first before they can exit, Mazda confirmed, just as it was in the much lower and sportier RX-8.
Mazda did not say when the rotary range extender for the MX-30 would arrive in Canada, or when (or if) the MX-30 in any form will eventually become available outside of the provinces of BC and Quebec, its two launch markets, with a list of Mazda dealers to offer it to be available later. Mazda Canada also didn’t state how far it could travel on a charge, though the range extender is expected to roughly double the total range available, which is rated at roughly 200 km in Europe (WLTP scale).
This is nearly identical to the all-electric Mini Cooper SE’s European rating of 203 km, which in NR Canada figures (based on the U.S. EPA’s more real-world testing procedures) is rated at an official 177 km.
Even the apparent confirmation that the MX-30 will be electricity-powered only at launch is somewhat of a surprise, as even early in 2021, Mazda North American Operations president Jeff Guyton was widely quoted saying “the range extender would be more appropriate” for the U.S. market. This presumably included Canada, given our colder temperatures that generally hit vehicle range harder come winter.
Mazda’s first all-electric vehicle to be sold in Canada will have a relatively small 35.5 kWh battery with prismatic cells, compared to the 32.6 kWh battery in the smaller and lighter Mini EV. Mazda Canada didn’t release a price or range estimates even, saying these would be available closer to launch, but it did confirm that the MX-30 would have a 50 kWh Level 3 quick charging speed, which the company says can provide a 20-80 per cent charge in 36 minutes, but is at a speed clearly near the bottom of what’s on the market now.
Its electric motor provides 144 horsepower and 200 lb-ft torque, a 0-100 km/h time of 9.7 seconds, and a top speed of 140 km/h. Clearly, the MX-30 is not pushing any technical EV nor sporting boundaries here, though as Mazda suggests, it wasn’t trying to here either.
“Our models have never been focused on top speed and acceleration times,” said Mazda Canada product communications manager Chuck Reimer. “As with all of our other models, the MX-30 was developed to provide the same smooth and natural Jinba Ittai driving feel as our combustion engine-powered cars.”
Mazda is in an unfortunate situation when it comes to electric vehicles, as a relatively small automaker from a major auto-producing country which has not widely adopted battery electric vehicles – either on Japanese streets, in government regulations or in most of its top automotive boardrooms. And it has no major partner it can depend on for EV technology. Yes, there is a small bit of Toyota ownership there (five per cent), but neither company has yet brought an all-electric vehicle to the Canadian market.
Toyota did produce an all-electric RAV4 in Ontario with Tesla-sourced batteries starting in 20212 for three years. That RAV4 EV was generally seen as a compliance vehicle: sold only in California and in very low volumes, in order to meet the state’s zero emissions vehicle mandate.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the upcoming Mazda MX-30 has only been confirmed to be headed to the two provinces with similar ZEV mandates, British Columbia and Quebec. Mazda has promised more electrification in its Canadian lineup soon, outside of the range-extended MX-30, with an upcoming plug-in hybrid version of an upcoming large vehicle, and a traditional hybrid powertrain for an upcoming new crossover developed with Toyota to be built in the U.S.