Mazda’s shock take on electric car
Mazda Australia is not sure Australia is ready for electric cars.
The brand is weighing up whether to import its first all-electric model, the Mazda MX-30 to Australia.
Vinesh Bhindi, managing director of Mazda Australia, says the brand's reluctance to commit to electric cars represents diligence, not hesitation.
"We have got to make sure it makes sense," he says.
"Natural sales and demand for EVs is very small.
"So we ask ourselves, is this car … the right thing to offer our customers?"
Full technical details for the MX-30 will be revealed when it officially goes on sale overseas. Until then, we know its 35.5kWh battery is about half the size of what you'll find in larger models.
Mazda says the MX-30 is an urban electric vehicle, one which won't attempt to match the 500-plus kilometre range of premium Tesla variants.
"We like it because it's not conventional," Bhindi says.
"It's unique, it's different.
"We think there is an opportunity. We think we should be part of the conversation setting up EVs in Australia.
"The only way we can do that is to have one."
Rival brands such as Hyundai have a headstart on electrification.
But demand for electric cars is low. About 1 per cent of new car buyers picked a plug-in hybrid or electric car last year - a threefold increase compared to 2018. And electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona Electric and Mercedes EQC cost about twice as much as regular models.
Kia and Audi have delayed local debuts for the e-Niro and e-tron to supply markets where there is strong demand for electric cars.
Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak says a lack of buyer incentives and renewable energy supply is holding back electric cars in Australia.
Doak says electric vehicles charged by coal-fuelled power stations are responsible for more carbon emissions than some regular vehicles.
The Federal Government's green vehicle guide website shows that a Nissan Leaf powered by non-renewable energy in Victoria is responsible for furl life cycle carbon emissions of 198 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide. Toyota's Corolla Hybrid produces less than half that in average driving, emitting 85g/km.
But green power plans and carbon offset arrangements offered by power suppliers make that argument redundant.
In any case, Mazda has to decide whether to offer the MX-30 in Australia, telling reporters it will commit one way or the other mid-year.
"We still have to make that final go/no-go decision," Bhindi says.
"And we will make that soon."