Mazda Australia has delayed a decision on whether to import the MX-30 electric car, but promises to make its plan public by the middle of this year.
Australia's second-most popular car brand revealed its first EV at last October’s Tokyo Motor Show, a 4.4-metre long high-riding hatch with ‘freestyle’ rear-opening back doors, interior materials including recycled plastic and cork, and a 35.5kWh battery.
This capacity sits between the Mini Electric's and the entry Nissan Leaf's, pointing to a driving range around 200km - about half a Hyundai Kona Electric’s, but comparable to said Mini and the also-unconfirmed-for-Australia Honda E.
Mazda argues that it’s targeting an urban buyer that travels short distances, and notes that production of bigger batteries emits more CO2.
Australia is a hugely important market for Mazda, given its share hovers around 10 per cent. But this market is also a fairly minor one for EVs. We asked the company’s local marketing director Alastair Doak what the company plans.
“It’s a big decision to make so we have taken a little bit longer than we planned,” was the answer.
“I think we said after the Tokyo show we’d make a decision early in the new year. We haven't got there yet, we’ll give a commitment we’ll definitely make a decision by the middle of the year.
“I think we were on record at the end of last year saying that as individuals we would like to bring it, but it needs to make sense at least at some level as a business case.
“And there's big implications from that. If you did bring it how many dealers would have the car, how would you sell it, service it? It’s not just a case of ‘hey it's a good product let’s bring it in’.
“... The reality is that in the more mass-market, EVs don’t sell in large volumes… Tesla has sold a lot of Model 3s, but that's a different conversation for them.”
What this translates to is, Mazda has consulted its dealers, and according to Doak has even talked with other car brands about their strategies, and is now seeking to work out what price it could get the MX-30 here for, and if anyone would buy it.
If it's BMW i3 money, it'd be tough...
Read all about the MX-30, and watch the accompanying video, here.
Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in Australia have grown substantially over the last 12 months, although this excitement should be tempered considering the low base they’ve come from.
Figures sourced from the Electric Vehicle Council show 6718 fully electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars were sold in Australia in 2019, more than triple the 2216 sold over the preceding 12 months. That’s still only about 0.5 per cent market share though.