Mazda Canada and its dealers expect the automaker’s first electric vehicle sold here — the MX-30 crossover — to sway buyers with its sporty driving traits and premium quality, despite offering significantly less range than similarly priced rivals.
“I think that the Mazda buyer is used to a superior-driving car, so I don’t believe it will be an issue — especially considering this is their first attempt at electrification,” said Laura Zanchin, executive vice president of Zanchin Automotive Group, which operates three Mazda stores in Ontario.
“So, will they spend a little bit for Mazda? I think they will. Especially when they see the look of this particular vehicle.”
The 2022 MX-30, which is now available at select dealerships in British Columbia and Quebec, will be front-wheel-drive and have 143 horsepower. Natural Resources Canada rates the MX-30’s range at 161 kilometres.
The Hyundai Kona Electric provides an estimated range of 415 kilometres. The MX-30 is priced from $44,100, including destination charges, while the 2022 Kona Electric starts at $45,650.
Mark Peyman, Mazda Canada Inc.’s national manager for product and electrification strategy, expects the MX-30 will appeal to urban buyers with access to a second vehicle. The MX-30 will mainly serve as an eco-friendly way to get to and from work or the grocery store.
“We come to market with a vehicle like the MX-30 that has a smaller battery, a smaller footprint environmentally and still meets the range needs of 80 per cent-plus of the consumers that will probably use this,” Peyman said. “We’ve found through research that many of these individuals have additional cars in their households that are for longer range.”
Russell Grosser, general manager of Destination Mazda in downtown Vancouver, said he has been using the store’s demo MX-30 as his main method of transportation for about a month. A resident of Maple Ridge, about 40 kilometres from the dealership, Grosser can drive to work, return home and then back to work again before he has to plug in the vehicle. The MX-30’s 161-kilometre estimated range is enough for most Canadians, he said.
“What I’m finding is they [consumers] are really quite focused on that number, the range specifically, without translating that to real-world use,” he said.
The smaller battery has less usable range than competitors, but it gives the MX-30 a smaller carbon footprint than other EVs, along with a lighter curb weight, Grosser said.
“With the smaller battery, it’s an easier thing to dispose of, and the carbon output for mining and refining those batteries is a lot less,” he said. “So people who actually want the environmental aspect of an EV, as opposed to just the fuel savings, they’re looking at that as well.
“With the smaller battery, the driving dynamics are a little bit better than we find with [other EVs] on the road.”
Mazda has allocated 700 MX-30s for British Columbia and Quebec for 2022, a volume it believes will fulfill demand in the first year. A plug-in hybrid MX-30 with a range-extending internal-combustion electric-generator engine is set to arrive in Canada in late 2022 and will be sold nationally.
“Step one is to focus on these urban environments and people that do want a more environmentally conscious choice with the full battery electric,” Peyman said. “Step two, this [plug-in hybrid model] could conceivably be somebody’s only vehicle, so it’s just a step further out.”