Mazda's iconic roadster will receive some form of electrification by 2030 – and it's a lighter hybrid system that appears most likely.
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Not even the purest of sports cars is exempt from the car industry's shift to electric vehicles, with Mazda confirming the iconic Mazda MX-5 sports car will be electrified by 2030 – and it's a hybrid system that appears most likely.

In a media roundtable with Japanese outlet Kuruma News, Mazda R&D and Cost Innovation boss Ichiro Hirose confirmed the open-top MX-5 is in the "scope of electrification in 2030" – which, as announced last week, will see all Mazda vehicles offer some form of electrified option (hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric) by the end of the decade.

While the executive didn't confirm whether the electrified MX-5 would opt for hybrid or all-electric power, Mr Hirose (as quoted by Kuruma News) noted he hopes to "achieve electrification that respects the [MX-5]'s DNA as a lightweight sports car" – strongly suggesting the use of hybrid assistance, rather than a far-heavier all-electric setup.

However, it remains to be seen whether Mazda will stick a lighter 24- or 48-volt mild-hybrid system that merely assists the combustion engine, or instead employ a higher-power series-hybrid or plug-in hybrid system capable of driving the wheels without the engine's assistance, and covering tens of kilometres on electric power alone.

In addition to hybrid technology, fellow R&D executive Takeji Kojima signalled an interest in adopting an "internal combustion engine that uses biofuel, such as e-fuel", as part of Mazda's goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Above and bottom: The current Mazda MX-5 'ND'.

While an all-electric version of the MX-5 might not initially be in the Japanese brand's plans, looming European and Japanese emissions regulations and market restrictions over the coming decades will make an EV MX-5 inevitable – though the petrol engine appears to have at least another decade left to run.

The executive's latest words align with quotes from Mr Hirose in late 2019, which reiterate Mazda's focus on retaining the MX-5's light weight: "The lightweighting and compact size are essential elements of MX-5, so even if we apply electrification, we have to make sure it really helps to achieve the lightweighting of the vehicle."

"We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options… we need to make a vehicle that people can own without worrying that they are not being eco-friendly," he said at the time.

Little else is known about the next-generation 'NE' MX-5, though the typical eight to 10-year life cycles of past MX-5 generations suggests a launch between 2022 and 2025, given the current 'ND' model debuted late in 2014, and arrived in Australia in mid-2015.

Unlike its predecessor, it appears set to be an all-Mazda project, with ND MX-5 development partner Fiat recently axing its rebadged version of the sports car (known as the 124 Spider) in the UK and Australia, with other markets likely to soon follow.