Mazda’s tongue-in-cheek anti-electric car campaign

Japanese company says they’re not worth it… yet

By John Silcox on May 13, 2012 5:12 PM

Mazda officials poked fun at electric vehicles during the recent launch of the new CX-5 SUV, underlining the Japanese company’s reluctance to embrace EV technology.

At the CX-5 international launch in the Scottish highlands, fake road signs were planted on surrounding verges cautioning motorists about ‘EV drivers hitchhiking’ and ‘Abandoned EVs ahead’. Another sign jibed that the ‘next charging point was 225 miles’ away.

The pranks reflect Mazda’s stance on EVs and its decision not to invest in electric technology, but rather develop more efficient high performance fossil fuel engines… in the short term.

Speaking at the Los Angeles motorshow last November, Mazda boss Takashi Yamanouchi stated: “Electric cars are for the future. By 2020, 5% of car sales will be electric at best. Until obstacles such as cost, range and charging times are overcome, they are not for Mazda, at least as mainstream production vehicles.”

Yamanouchi added: “The key to success for Mazda in the future is not the size of the company, but how we connect with our customers. We believe we will be building cars they want.”

However with this view, the manufacturer cuts a rather lonely figure amid a general trend in the industry towards the electrification of their vehicle ranges.

The new Mazda CX-5 crossover is the first car to contain the manufacturer’s ultra-efficient new SkyActiv technology. At the moment two different engines, one petrol and one diesel, are available. It is claimed that today’s Mazdas’ range is 30% more fuel efficient than in 2008 and will be a further 30% more fuel efficient again by 2015.

Mazda are nevertheless developing EVs and in December 2011 the company revealed the Mazda2 EV city car. This zero-emissions plug-in electric vehicle is the company’s answer to increasingly heavy global emissions regulations. It is not reported to be going into production before 2018, although in the meantime 100 vehicles will be leased out to government and businesses in Japan.