Mazda has backflipped on its hesitancy towards electrified vehicles with the announcement of a new 'Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030' plan that will see it launch 13 electrified vehicles – including three all-electric vehicles – by 2025.
Key to the rollout will be a new ‘SkyActiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture’ (SMSSA), set to be introduced between 2022 and 2025 across Mazda's next generation of vehicles "mainly" in Japan, Europe, the US, China and Southeast Asia – though no specific mention is made of Australia.
The new platform will see the Japanese brand launch five 'conventional' hybrid vehicles – excluding mild-hybrids, but including vehicles with full-hybrid technology borrowed from Toyota – plus five plug-in hybrids and three all-electric vehicles by 2025 – a contrast to Mazda's current range, which includes one electric vehicle (MX-30), and a selection of mild-hybrids.
While the identity of the new electric models has yet to be confirmed, the timeline matches up with the launches of next-generation versions of the Mazda 2 city car and CX-3 city SUV (likely targeted at the European market), along with a handful of the brand's larger vehicles including the Mazda 6, CX-5 and CX-9.
Above: Rear-wheel-drive Mazda 'Large' vehicle with a plug-in hybrid system.
Transversely-mounted engines with front-wheel-drive-based layouts will be used in small cars, while longitudinally-mounted engines and rear-wheel drive will be employed in larger vehicles, the first of which are confirmed for a 2022 launch with straight-six power and the use of SkyActiv-X technology.
The brand has shown images of 48-volt mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains with six-cylinder petrol engines, plus a 48-volt mild-hybrid straight-six diesel and a range-extender setup based around a rotary engine – a configuration slated for use in the MX-30 SUV next year.
Mazda will introduce the 'SkyActiv EV Scalable Architecture' between 2025 and 2030, a dedicated skateboard platform for electric vehicles capable of underpinning "various vehicle sizes and body types".
One hundred per cent of the brand's vehicles will offer some form of electrification by 2030, with 25 per cent of Mazda's sales to be all-electric – a step forward over its current targets, but still trailing behind brands like Volkswagen and Ford which plan to have electric vehicles account for 50 to 100 per cent of their sales by 2030.
Above: 48-volt mild-hybrid diesel-powered 'Large' Mazda vehicle.
Alongside its move to electric power, Mazda will introduce a new "human-centric autonomous driving system" known as 'Mazda Co-Pilot Concept', version 1.0 of which will launch in the brand's rear-drive Large products in 2022.
Rather than a traditional Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system that takes control from the driver while they are attentive, the Co-Pilot Concept monitors the driver's condition "at all times" and autonomously brings the vehicle to a halt in a safe location if it detects they have become incapacitated.
In partnership with Toyota, Suzuki, Subaru and Daihatsu, Mazda will develop a standardised set of "in-vehicle communication devices" that promise to "provide safer and stress-free connected services". Over-the-air updates and 'Mobility as a Service' functionality will feature heavily in future Mazda vehicles.
"In line with our corporate vision, Mazda aims to become a brand that creates special bonds with customers by enriching their lives with an experience of car ownership that provides joy of driving, the pure essence of cars", the brand added.