Those who gripe that all electric vehicles are starting to look the same and follow the same specs should probably take a good look at the Mazda MX-30.
The automaker on Wednesday confirmed that its MX-30 electric vehicle, which is already available in Europe, is coming to California this fall, for the 2022 model year. In its launch form for the U.S., the 2022 MX-30 EV will get a 35.5-kwh lithium-ion battery pack—small in the interest of sustainability, Mazda has said—with a single electric motor driving the front wheels making 144 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque.
Also waiting in the wings: a Wankel rotary engine, to be installed as a range extender in a model for later introduction—due in 2022, for the 2023 model year.
Mazda didn’t yet reveal what kind of range the MX-30 EV will return in its U.S. guise. In Europe it earns a rating on the WLTP standard of 124 miles—likely equating to some amount more than 100 miles on the EPA cycle. European versions of the MX-30 do include a heat pump.
2022 Mazda MX-30
According to Mazda, the battery pack can be charged from 20% to 80% in about 36 minutes with a 50-kw DC fast charger. Mazda didn’t yet confirm specs about Level 2 charging, although in overseas markets the model comes with a 6.6-kw onboard charger—putting our estimate of a full charge in as little as five hours on a home wallbox.
There’s nothing quite like the MX-30 in the U.S. market. Given the go-anywhere appearance, the gear flexibility of rear-hinged rear doors, the lack of all-wheel drive, and the short driving range of the MX-30 EV, it appears, at first look, like an odd juxtaposition.
Closest rivals include the BMW i3—offering a range extender for a little while longer—and the Mini Cooper SE, with its 110 all-electric miles.
Mazda says that it will be partnering with ChargePoint to offer “charging solutions” for MX-30 owners in the U.S.—and the company confirmed to Green Car Reports that means both at home and on the road.
Rotary on the way—in the future
The MX-30 might make better sense in the near future—when it gets the flexibility to burn some gasoline again. As Mazda confirmed in January, the MX (Mazda eXperimental, in the company’s nomenclature) serves as a reissue of a greatest hit from Mazda’s history: the Wankel rotary. And with today’s announcement, the automaker—perhaps confirming that emissions hurdles have been met—again assured that model is headed to the U.S., too.
“This technology is being engineered for nearly silent operation and will replenish the battery rather than drive the wheels,” said Jeff Guyton, the president of Mazda North American Operations. “As a result, the MX-30 will always drive like the engaging EV that it is, but with freedom to charge from the wall or on the go.”
Mazda hasn’t yet detailed the technology within the return of the rotary, although it called the version on the way a “series plug-in hybrid”—confirming there will be no mechanical connection to the wheels. In its home Japan, Mazda has also revealed a conventional version of the MX-30 powered by its 2.0-liter inline-4 engine and mild-hybrid system, but it’s likely to keep the MX a vehicle for electric propulsion here.
The company says that it plans to use a “multi-solution approach to electrification” in the U.S. That includes this model, a large plug-in hybrid, and “a traditional hybrid for our American-made crossover”—likely referring to a vehicle borrowing elements from the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
2022 Mazda MX-30
Different packaging than other plug-ins
The MX-30 design, introduced at the 2019 Tokyo show, combines Mazda’s performance heritage with some futuristic—and offbeat—design touches, with rear-hinged rear doors, and it looks the part of a crossover-like hatchback that packs battery-electric and rotary propulsion on board.
Although it’s the same 173 inches long as the company’s CX-30, it divvies up the proportions somewhat differently. While the CX-30 might be a smoother design, the MX-30 looks split on its mission, with the impression of a taller beltline that looks like a smooth fastback above that and a rugged, rubber-clad lower-body below that.
Inside, Mazda points to a “driver-centric approach” to the interior, with a minimalist look combined that includes “feelings of lightness and openness.” The rear doors appear to create interior packaging that looks quite different—and perhaps better for active types than those with kids or pets to load in. There’s an electronic shifter atop a floating center console, and sustainability is cleverly emphasized in some of the materials, with cork used for the door grips—a nod to Mazda’s original manufacturing origin.
2022 Mazda MX-30
In following some of Mazda’s other recent models, there’s a 7.0-inch screen, used as a touchscreen for climate controls only, with a commander knob allowing access to media and calling functions while driving without having to reach for the touchscreen. Mazda says that connected services plus an app will allow remote locking, climate preconditioning, and battery status checks.
Mazda hasn’t yet disclosed pricing or features for the MX-30, so there’s a lot yet to be discussed in how this very niche model might fit into the market. Stay tuned.