Mazda Picks Up the Pace in Electric Vehicles

(Bloomberg) -- One of the car industry’s laggards in electrification is starting to catch up.

Mazda Motor Corp. laid out plans to revamp its product lineup, saying that all its vehicles will come with electric power by 2030. Five percent of the cars will be fully battery-powered by that year, and 95 percent will combine an electric motor with an internal-combustion engine, the Hiroshima, Japan-based company said Tuesday.

The company previously signaled that it will keep relying on fossil fuels, including diesel, as it waits for customer interest in electric vehicles to pick up. While Mazda is moving toward electrification, the automaker will still keep perfecting the internal-combustion engine, which is a key part of hybrid vehicles, Chief Executive Officer Akira Marumoto said at a press conference in Tokyo.

Mazda on Tuesday announced plans for two electric models, including one powered solely by battery. The other pairs a battery with a so-called range extender powered by a rotary engine, which recharges the battery when necessary to increase the driving range.

The automaker now aims to introduce its first electric vehicle by 2020, a year later than originally planned.

“It took some time to put in the latest battery technology and we revised the layout to allow us to use the technology across multiple electric vehicles, so we’re a bit behind -- that’s a fact,” Mazda Executive Vice-President Kiyoshi Fujiwara told reporters separately. “Delaying to 2020 is the optimal solution.”

Mazda’s goal of deploying electrification technology in all its vehicles by 2030 is more aggressive than that of partner Toyota Motor Corp., which aims for half of its cars sold that year to be electrified. The two companies work together in developing technology for electric vehicles.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.