Mazda have confirmed their reluctance to enter the all-electric vehicle market, preferring to concentrate on improving the efficiency of their petrol and diesel-engined cars using SKYACTIV technology, which they claim gives 15-20 per cent better fuel consumption.
The first Mazda that has been designed from the ground up using SKYACTIV engineering is the all-new compact crossover SUV, the CX-5. Scheduled to launch in the majority of markets at the beginning of 2012, the model achieves sub-120g/km CO2 emissions and also benefits from a lighter, stiffer body-shell made from high-tensile steel, savings 100kgs. It will be unveiled by Mazda at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September 2011.
Christian Blank, director of European fleet operations said: “Research tells us that only 10% of new cars sold in 2020 will be fully electric. So we believe that the strategy we are pursuing is the right one – first launching breakthrough technologies for gasoline and diesel engines while continuing to work on hybrid and electric vehicles as well as hydrogen-powered models.”
The cost of all-electric vehicles is seen as a factor for potential buyers, with just 680 motorists in the UK taking up the government’s £5,000 grant for cars that produce less than 75g/km of CO2 emissions.
Mazda’s decision to concentrate on petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars seems to be supported by customer buying patterns. All-electric vehicles, or EVs, currently make up less than 0.1 per cent of the cars on UK roads. Deloitte Consultancy doesn’t expect that to change until the year 2020, when they predict that EVs will still make up just 5 per cent of the cars on the road. That view is supported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Vehicle valuation experts, Glass’s, predict that EVs won’t become more popular than hybrids in the UK until 2020, with their combined market share still being only 21% by then.
It’s likely that others will continue to explore how to make better, more efficient extended range electric vehicles (E-REVs), including Vauxhall, who predict sales of 3,000 for their Ampera E-REV when it goes on sale early in 2012 – more than five times the total number of EVs sold in the UK in 2011. The petrol/electric hybrid will have a range of around 350 miles – more than twice the current range for most EVs. However, the vehicle will still qualify for the government’s £5,000 grant.