2019 Mazda 3 underhood
A look under the hood of Mazda’s future includes a patchwork of “what if” possibilities and a series of juggled timelines.
Mazda is in a tough spot right now with regulators and in finding its place across many global markets. Part of the issue is that Mazda is considered an Intermediate-size manufacturer and subject to California’s ZEV mandate, requiring a certain percentage of its sales volume to be electric cars, plug-in hybrids, or hydrogen vehicles.
Unlike some other small or intermediate carmakers, it doesn’t have any overarching major-automaker partnerships (except for a development venture for EVs with Toyota), and its sales aren’t heavily biased toward a single market.
Of a global sales total of about 1.6 million vehicles last year, Mazda sold just over 300,000 vehicles in the U.S.; compare that to Subaru, which is in a similar predicament but made just over a million vehicles last year, selling 680,000 of them in the U.S.
Mazda is under pressure to produce some plug-in vehicle, if only for California ZEV states by the end of the year. So it's moving along with work on its electric vehicle, supported by a Wankel rotary-engine range-extender, confirmed Mazda’s vice president of R&D and design, Masashi Otsuka, last week, at a backgrounder and early drive for the 2019 Mazda 3, which arrives at dealerships in March.
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