We're not quite sure what Mazda is doing with powertrains these days. SkyActiv-X isn't coming to us yet (or at all), and it's supposed to be the bees' knees when it comes to power and efficiency. The CX-5 diesel doesn't sell, nor does it do much for mileage. Now, the brand is about to start manufacturing its first all-electric vehicle known as the MX-30 crossover. But here's the kicker. It only has 124 miles of range. That's less than the VW e-Golf. What's up with that? If the MX-30 even makes it to the states, could it succeed?
Mazda debuted the MX-50 at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Show. The subcompact crossover-style also incorporates some sportiness that Mazda has been known for. It gets the MX nomenclature from the MX-5 Miata, which means it just might be even better to drive than the brand's current crossover offerings, which is a high bar.
Powering only the front wheels is a front-mounted electric motor and a 35.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This also happens to be the brand's first electric vehicle, something they said they weren't going to pursue. Here's the big hurdle: it only gets 124 miles of range on the European test cycle, which means it will likely be less than that if it gets sold in America.
The only thing that could possibly help boost that 124-mile number is a rumored range extender in the form of a Mazda RX-8-like rotary engine. To us, that seems like a big stretch considering the rotary engine has plenty of shortcomings including heavy oil use, leakage, and a short lifespan compared to regular combustion gas engines.
The interior of the MX-30 might just be the brand's prettiest, and that's a tall order since pretty much every Mazda interior is stunning, ergonomically excellent, and high quality. There's no B-pillar like most vehicles. Instead it gets rear-hinged doors that allow easy ingress for rear passengers. The cloth and cork are meant to be environmentally low impact. Just don't spill grape juice on that cork. We're guessing it'll get a protective coating of some kind.
The challenge for the MX-30, if we do get it, is the range. Most Americans who might consider purchasing an EV are all about the range and perhaps less about the driving excitement. For those who commute the current average distance of 15 miles to work and back could go a couple of days without charging stress. If the range extender is able to increase the 124 or so miles up to about 150, you might not even make it to the full five-day workweek. That could present a problem, no matter how well the MX-30 drives.
The Tesla Model Y can run all week without a charge for most folks, and that's a huge bonus. Telsa easily outpaces any other EV in terms of sales volume, and the Y should be its best-seller. But the base price of the Y is almost $53,000 for the standard 230-mile version, while the MX-30 would come in at about $35,000, considerably less. The Hyundai Kona EV at about $37,000 is on par with what the MX-30 would cost, and it has way more range (and is also fun to drive). Mazda clearly has a challenge on its hands.