The Red Dot Adds Anxiety

Mazda jolts into electric life. We take a helicopter view.

Mazda MX-30. Image: green car guide

Mazda think differently. They once took a rotary engine to Le Mans and won the race. They reinvented the small British sports car, firmly trouncing anything wearing an octagonal badge or hailing from Hethel. They made a sporting car, placing that high pitched, wailing engine into bodywork with funny rear doors – discussed almost as often as the rotary – and sold respectable amounts.

Today, toeing the line is in order; bigger, taller vehicles from the Hiroshima based manufacturer (but styled in Germany) have taken a tangent by listening, studying and evaluating what (some) folk aspire to. One cannot see the competition breaking sweat over this Mazda eXperiment-30 but for those who switch on more, an opportunity to chose differently.

Where ones derrière resides, along with the detritus a young family can generate, lie all the safety kit and expected modern connections. Our concerns lay deeper – the underfloor batteries, stacked in the modular style, thin cooling fluid layers and just 35.5 kWh which is considerably lower in both size and output any other current manufacturer crows loudly about.

Image: Automotivemanufacturingsolutions.com.

As the MX-30 is based upon the CX-30 platform, there’s literally no room at the inn for more batteries. This of course reduces the bulk to a svelte 1645Kg; featherweight to an EQC or e-Tron. Car journalists will hardly be salivating over the spirited handling, though Mazda engineers have equalled the front-rear balance which must count for something?

Guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles, with a 50Kw cable you get fast battery charging – 36 minutes from 20 to 80% charge ok? Enough for the parents to enjoy a coffee, children’s ablutions and dig about for the miniature Peppa Pig that’s in the back, somewhere… The charging kit brought to you by New Motion, a part of Shell. Well, if the fossil fuels are running out…

Mazda Europe design director Jo Stenuit has (been told to?) kept the Kodo design with added Jinba Ittai and plenty of reinforcement in those doors that Mazda name freestyle. This may allude to bodily contortions necessary for in or egress, or simply where you lob your designer shopping bags.

Side on views reveal the C-pillar (with added Mazda name) retracts at angles more suitable to those of diminutive dimensions, the press categorically in unison at how little wriggle room there is, aft. When open, those freestyle doors posses a character and provide a conversation point, if little else. On screen/ paper, to these eyes their quirky charm appeals but out in the big nasty world, will they be useful or useless? Time will tell but at least the rear door handle is more than hidden – totally omitted as they can only be opened from within, silly.

Back inside and we find eco-materials, a pleasant floating console, some traditional looking instruments with only the lower of the two screens operated by touch. One has to guess the fitted sound system will be just fine and dandy connected to Apple car play but the acoustic boffins have supplanted an old fashioned internal combustion engine sound (though from what old jalopy I could not ascertain) that only the occupants can hear.

(c) Topgear

Again, the (some) press believe this sound discreet, heightening your sense of vehicle speed without constantly checking dials. Gimmick? Ghastly? Gorden, are you listening? Without a chance to experience the sound first hand (ear?) I must reserve judgment.

Other items for your digestion being the 143bhp and 200 foot pounds on tap but a definite top whack set at thirteen short of the ton; practically twenty above the U.K. speed limit but will such limitations assist in saving juice? Range anxiety raises its ugly three pin plug face, au natural, once more. Mazda state the battery will propel you for 124 miles before discharging which should cover your weekly shop and trips to the park for the swings and feed the ducks before heading over to the in-laws for an end of driveway conflabration in our still-Covid world, no?

(c) insideevs.com

And recharging for mere pennies. The real world where low temperatures, hilly terrain, loads of shopping/kids and plain forgetfulness will reduce that significantly. “I ask you to do one job, plug the car in…now we can’t go to IKEA for Joseph’s bedside lamp!” In our everyday electrical world, we are all guilty of plugging in, just in case meaning the MX-30 will be chained to that charger. The battery guarantee may ease furrowed brows but will anyone keep this car eight years?

Concluding today’s objective review we must carefully avoid the trip hazard cable by the kerbside and admire the view. The MX-30 won the 2020 Red Dot award for design, making the parents rightly proud. Mazda are brave for offering something left-field but my fears are such boldness will garner nothing more than a polite applause, a grudging smile in the face of wanting more. Why have egg on toast when Eggs Benedict with bottomless coffee is on special offer? Mazda receive my applause for at least trying something different. Just don’t expect to see many actually unplugged from that damned cable.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

61 thoughts on “The Red Dot Adds Anxiety”

  1. They’ve made some great cars in recent decades, but those rear doors will surely kill this one stone dead.

    I’d just leave it in ICE mode, but what’s the mpg figure for it?

  2. Morning Andrew. I’m not a fan of EV’s as you know, the biggest problem for me is range, unless you go the Tesla route, but I don’t have sufficient funds 😢. 124 miles is no good for me at all. Once lockdown is over, I’d like to resume our jaunts out to the coast or into the Dales. We can easily cover 200+ miles when taking the scenic route home. Where would I recharge it in the middle of the Dales? The range will suit some, but not me. However, I like quirkiness, so love the suicide rear doors.

    1. Tim: you could rent a petrol car for longer trips. I have a car capable of crossing Europe on 1.5 tanks of fuel, carrying five people and luggage but mostly it travels a few kilometres around the district. If I had a small car like a Ka or 500 and a 150 km range I´d probably more than survive and just think a bit more about the times I really need the weight and space of the 406. It dawned on me years ago that ICE cars are massively over-engineered for the pottering trips they mostly do. For a while we were carless and so rented a car when needed. It was quite fun to drive something new and never have to deal with a mechanic or the other chores.

      I like what Mazda have done with the C-pillar on this car. And the front end is so calm. Compare to Peugeots of the present time…

    2. Would you buy a conventional car with a fuel tank holding no more than five litres and needing to be filled using a one millitre pipette or syringe?
      Why not?

    3. As I understand it, most EVs are getting 200 km plus in range. The pipette metaphor is not complete because they are charged over night. Users are being asked to shift from place-based fuelling (the station) to time-based fuelling (at night or when the vehicle is not in use.
      “These hydrocarbon vehicles will be severely limited by the fact vehicle owners have to go to special “petrol stations” to get the fuel rather than just get power from roadside plugging-in stands or domestic rechargers. It is estimated almost 8000 stations will be needed for the UK if it is to keep 40 million cars refuelled. Clearly most people will find the idea of driving to a refuelling place many miles from their home unpalatable. ” Dr. D.G. Hulme – “Analysis of transition to petroleum fuelled motor carriages” HM Government, 1923.

    4. I offer you a job as my personal driving assistant for my electric car on my 1,100 kilometre drive to my holiday home in San Gimignano. You just have to restore the full 800 kilometre range in the electrical equivalent to our Golf 4 within two minutes, just as I do.
      Interested?

    5. Dave: plainly the electric car won´t do it in one jaunt like the petrol car. You have choices though. Do the trip in stages and enjoy lovely European provincial towns on the way down; rent a car for the time you are in your holiday home; sell the holiday home; organise life around another form of transport; buy a second hand car and have full Euro road cover… Life is full of choices and compromises. When we didn´t run a car we didn´t try to do the kind of multi-leg trips one does in a car and we did quite okay as in it was no chore.

    6. Why should I do the trip in staces when all I want is to get there
      (there’s wine, Italian food and olive oil. On the way there you find Switzerland, fine as it is, but no alternative. Their tunnels are much nicer than the Italians, nevertheless).
      Why should I rent a car when I own one?
      I can’t sell the holiday home because it belongs to my sister who lives there.

    7. Dave: a night in Cologne, a night in Interlaken -what could be nicer, I ask, as you zoom south in your Zoe or Leaf or Tesla.
      My main point is that every choice involves compromises. If you want to drive to Italy in one hit, so you have an ICE car over-engineered for the 500 other pootling trips it does. But if one (not necessarily you, but generally) wanted to move to e-cars there are other advantages and acceptable compromises as I outlined. It´s not the laws of physics that determine what you do but self-selected values.
      It was once considered beyond the pale to offer a flight without a host of trimmings such as branded plates, in-flight meals and 45 kg or luggage free in the hold. Rynair (who I loathe) showed customers would dump all that for a cheap flight. The laws of physics weren´t bent by Leary – just people´s values.
      I would recommend someone in your circumstances (not you, as I don´t know all your details) would get by with an e-car or daily use and keep a decent banger in reserve for long trips and abnormal loads.

    8. “massively over-engineered for the pottering trips they mostly do”

      Autobahn capability aside, the extra range in a petroleum-fuelled car comes at the cost of a bit of space and probably a kilo or two of additional material to construct the fuel tank. Quite the contrast to batteries where the weight must be carried full or empty.

    9. Dave, you have a holiday home in San Gimignano!? That’s just bragging! I am green with envy – it’s one of my favourite places. Seriously, very nice!

    10. John H: would it be provokative to suggest you have not accounted for the entire set of costs associated with an ICE? Economists have a term called “externalities” and it is these I have in mind.

    11. Richard, I was only referring to the incremental difference in having very long range in an ICE car versus one with a smaller tank.

  3. Vic as a user of the same door layout ( BMW i3) I’ve found this idea to be really useful and much preferred over conventional types. Parking close to a wall or another vehicle does create a challenge if access to the rear seat is needed, something to be avoided or at least approached in a sequenced manner for success.
    For safety the half doors can only be opened after the fronts and also because the main doors lock into them. Having the whole side open, front seats slid forward with backs tilted and a rear hatch provides almost unlimited access on three sides for stowing large items.
    The added height of this design with underfloor pack is another godsend for easy access while standing, much preferred over my previous Ampera.
    The Mazda is full electric is it not?

  4. Good morning Andrew. Hmm, to my eyes, this is the fussiest, therefore least successful of Mazda’s recent designs. I have to agree with Vic: those rear doors may work for families with small children, but for adults, they’re an unnecessary compromise. They worked on the RX-8 (to a point) because it was a coupé and you didn’t expect much rear seat room or doors to access it. Here, they’re just an annoyance, both practically and aesthetically.

    Sorry, but it’s a ‘No’ from me.

    1. Sorry Daniel but until tried in use I think it’s premature to discount or categorise these reverse doors as an annoyance or being impractical. As stated above with three years actual use they pass the “Taste Test” and I’ve been told by many I’m hard to please!

    2. My one and only experience as a rear seat passenger of a BMW i3 was somewhat dominated by rather painfully clouting my head on the downward protruding cantrail/door latch mechanism for the rear coach door. I’m of average height by the way. While I’m sure I’d have been a bit more circumspect the next time, it certainly didn’t lend a particularly favourable first impression. Coach doors are a nice idea in theory, and perhaps when they were more prevalent, people worked out a means of ingress and egress which incorporated an element of decorum. Perhaps we need to set up etiquette schools for such purposes in this brave new/old world we’re about to enter. (Mind your head there sir… no, please – after you.)

    3. I fear that 35.5 kWh is not enough to compete in this segment. Mazda aspires to being a ‘premium carmaker’ but they are selling to a naturally frugal audience (BEV hatchback buyers) who won’t be swayed by brand, and will take more range or lower cost as higher priorities. In this size class (Leaf, Zoe, Kona, etc.), I would wager most of the BEVs and plug-ins sold tend to be the lowest trim available.

      Daniel – do you attribute the ‘fussiness’ of the MX-30’s design to the body cladding or the sheetmetal itself? I don’t disagree with your assessment but I think that this car does represent some steps forward in the Mazda design language – the bones of something better are visible. The car still has an awkward fender to A-pillar transition and too large of an undercut around the ‘barrel’ of the taillamps, but it doesn’t suffer from an oversized grille, or from a too-pronounced character line like the other Mazda crossovers. I think it might look quite good without the lower-body cladding and with A- and C/D-pillars painted to match the rest of the body. Of course, the body cladding and plastic ‘cap’ running along the top edge of the greenhouse are manufacturing shortcuts (hiding wavy panels and weld lines) so there will be no way to produce the MX-30 without them.

      One last thought on the rear doors; other photos show that the front seatbelts are mounted to the inside of the rear half-door and swing out when the doors open, ready to be tangled in the feet of passengers getting into the rear seats, or in objects being loaded behind the front seats – terribly impractical. Do safety standards no longer allow seatbelts that spool inside the seat?

    4. Hi DGatewood. You make a fair point: the only ‘coach door’ I’ve experienced was on the Mk1 Mini Clubman. Hopefully, the MX-30’s will be more accommodating as it looks to be a good size. I still dislike the fussy styling though.

  5. Clearly a car that is going to divide opinion. Personally I think it is delightful, inside and out.

    Whether Mazda have pitched it correctly, though, is another matter. If you are the fabled affluent suburban family with two or more cars and off street parking, please feel flattered, as Mazda has designed a car very much with you in mind. For those of us who live in the city proper, charging opportunities aren’t quite there yet. It’s not the range as such: it’s having the option to go a week without having to plug it in that matters.

    My biggest issue is that it seems to offer very little progress over the BMW i3, which was launched way back in 2013.

  6. Morning Andrew – good review. The comments raise the ‘horses for courses’ aspect of the EV v ICE debate and it really all depends on where you live. Richard’s logic is unassailable if, as probably most people do, in an urban environment. Especially if it is a large conurbation such as (in the UK) Greater London, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, etc. But if you do not, then Tim’s objection to EVs takes on much greater significance. As Andrew also notes, real-life range is very different when steep terrain and greater distances are the norm. And even if you can live with an affordable EV, finding somewhere near enough from which to hire the long-journey vehicle will be a challenge.

    So while I recognise Richard’s logic, I fear it fails to convince those of us who live in rural areas for whom one vehicle has to perform all functions, even if some are rarer than others. And, unfortunately, we remember that once upon a time our Passat estate managed, at the very least, 700 miles on a tankful of diesel and the Perkins Prima-engined Montego estate which it replaced averaged 60 miles for every gallon of the devil’s brew. I know – times have changed, but…

    Having said all that, I think that if I were an urban dweller, this Mazda would appeal. And I think those doors are great.

    1. The rural dwellers have the possibility to put a car out to charge on their drive and also keep a cheap banger on stand-by for longer trips. I live a pretend rural life in the summer when we use our summer house. I drive way more than I do in town, I admit. However, I seldom if ever drive a more than an e-car´s range

  7. Generally speaking, I think I have been on record often enough on this site for people to know that I am a fan of the styling of the last couple of generations of Mazdas. I was also a big fan of the RX-8. I find this one a rare misstep, albeit not without some merits (because the overall Kodo 2.0 themes are ones that I like and are still there). It looks like it has had at least one too many tropes thrown at it, making it hard for me to take it seriously. The name compounds this feeling of it being a bit of a gimmick. Finally, they seem to have replaced the lovely physical HVAC controls in the CX-30 and 3 for a bloody screen – hopefully not a taste of more to come from Mazda.

  8. Battery Powered motoring, a short history.

    In the early days of motoring battery power was seen as superior to the other options such as compressed gas, steam and petroleum. The UK government along with the French and German governments saw the advantages of motorisation and concluded quite early that battery power suited Europe due to the ample supply of coal and relatively dense urban areas.

    Much research was carried out and by the 1920s a battery powered car had a range of 30 miles and could be recharged by swapping batteries on a deposit system. Some companies such as Panhard and Rolls Royce made efforts to launch petroleum powered cars but they did not take off due to the infrastructure problems but mostly because the long distance to large reserves of oil were seen to be strategically risky. Governments refused to invest and the market also saw risks in the idea. The idea was not adopted in Europe.

    The Americans proceeded with ICE engined cars until the 1950s (half of sales by 1939) when the strategic risks became clear to the Eisenhower administration which concluded that military interventions in the middle East were not cost-effective and liable to lead to long term instability in the region.

    The short ranges of battery cars until the 1990s meant that urban expansion in Europe was moderate and public transport remained the most popular option (89% of journeys in 1999, 92% of journeys in 2015). Pushes by petroleum producers did not appeal to politicians who saw a dual public and private mass transportation systems as a poor use of resources. Further, concern that coal production was liable to change atmospheric temperatures by 0.5 degrees by 2100 led to the UN convention on fossil fuel so that by Jan 2000, coal production was 25 % of its peak and wind power dominated energy production. In 2004 President Gore attended the closure of the last Texan oil field. With today´s concern over reliance on a few sources of rare earth metals, it seems the peak of private transportation has passed. In Europe there are only five major producers of e-cars, employing 56,000 people.

    Today Britain is the world´s leading producer of electric cars (Rolls Royce is in top spot) and high speed trains followed by Germany and France. Italy´s FIAT empire owns America´s General Trains whilst Ford produces market-leading vans and long distance electric trucks (popular throughout the world).

    Only Australia pursued the internal combustion engine and is renowned for its poor air quality and urban sprawl. The country was brought to a standstill in 1983 when Iraq stopped its limited production of oil due to a general strike.

    1. The first car to go faster than 100 kph was Camille Jenatzy’s ‘Jamais Contente’ 1908.
      The 1908 Boston Electric (grandma Duck) car did 80 miles at 50 mph, just as today’s i3 or Zoë.
      The cars were sought after because they were reliable, clean and had a range sufficient for the mobility requirements of the time which were equivalent to those of a horse drawn carriage.
      Makers of ICE cars made their cars cleaner and more reliable, enabling them to do journeys far beyond the capability of electric cars with far better flexibility.
      This has not changed over the last 100 years.
      The ICE car enables you to go where no battery powered car can go in the same time and it is much more flexible, for wjich read comfortable.

  9. One thing I don’t often see commented on regarding BEVs, is the lack of a universal charging standard. Obviously technology evolves all the time, but it seems a serious impediment to me that there’s no standard charger and socket arrangement. Do you think the ICE car would have been as successful if you could only “fill her up” at one of the seven or eight different types of filling station that has a nozzle to fit your vehicle?

  10. I think there’s meant to be a range-extender version coming, with the generator being a rotary engine. Additionally, a mild hybrid is available in Japan – I don’t know if it’ll be offered to other markets.

    I’m pretty ambivalent about the MX-30 – it seems to be trying to be too many things. I think I associate SUV styling with space / practicality and long range and this is a bit lacking in all three. Mazda say that they have kept the range down to ensure CO2 is reduced, but a lot depends on where you start measuring from (whole vehicle life, true end-to-end energy supply, etc, etc). The best I can come up with is that EVs are more CO2-intensive than combustion vehicles to produce, but are better in service.

    I think I prefer the Mazda CX-30.

    1. Ditto, but I’d still have the CX-30 in preference to the EV. As you say, S.V., there’s just too much going on with the MX-30

    2. Hello S.V. – yes, the saloon is nice – I never seem to see any Mazdas on the road. Just for fun, I looked up how many cars Mazda sell in Europe each year. The answer, surprisingly to me, is twice as many as Honda (although a third of Toyota).

      Back to CO2 – I should acknowledge that the Volkswagen ID.3 is carbon neutral at delivery, which is pretty good.

      I still think Renault’s ‘Re-Factory’, where old combustion-engined cars are converted to EVs is a good way to go.

    3. “The Volkswagen ID.3 is carbon neutral”. So, the production of almost 2 tonnes of steel, plastic and batteries ends up being “climate neutral”? How can one imagine this without stumbling over the word “lie” or “bribe”?
      Whoever says that, I don’t trust them as far as I can throw an elephant. I’ve spent too long in the advertising industry for that.

    4. Hello Fred, it’s true that any product will use up resources – and EVs in particular. It would be better if everyone tried to consume as little as possible, and for most people to have no children, or pets…

      That’s not going to happen, so I’m prepared to applaud any attempt to make things better / less bad. I believe, possibly naïvely, that VWG are sincere – their processes will be audited, I guess.

      The thing that worries me is that the massive shutdown at the start of the coronavirus outbreak really had a small overall environmental impact – to really sort things out, we’d need to do much more than that, for an extended period. Still, EVs and clean energy and all the rest of it are a start, I hope.

      The details of what VWG are doing are here:

      https://www.volkswagenag.com/en/news/stories/2019/11/how-volkswagen-makes-the-id-3-carbon-neutral.html

  11. The “Range Wars” are utterly irrelevant for the average European user.
    It is an American thing, as over the pond there is no such notion as a
    “15-mile daily commute”, that’d render the charge-once-a-week
    promise a credible proposition. Quite the contrary.

    I suppose, recent trends in globalizing/unifying model palettes – notably started by Ford w.the ‘One Ford’ strategy – have led us to forget the huge cultural (geographically/notionally preconditioned) differences. Stateside, a car is an extension of one’s body. In Europe, mostly,
    merely a choice. One should not be distressed by the high range ambitions (the Tesla game), apparently vital for the US motoring culture & needs. This will, ultimately, lead to a radically different BEV model palette for Europe vs. for the US (and/or a third palette for
    Asian markets perhaps, although unlikely).

    Where it all went wrong, though, is the mainstream manufacturers taking the Tesla range bait, and strategically opting for higher-range ambitions of their EV palette (which leads to a vicious circle of more weight & size, hence less point & purpose. And especially less environmental sense, as, there’s hardly a point in convincing anyone
    that a ~2.5 tonne (!) 5 metre vehicle has a cleaner environmental footprint than a 0.97 tonne thermal-powered C4 Cactus (or a 0.48 tonne
    Ami Electric EV-quadricycle, for that matter… 5 : 1 is indeed a bit OTT).

    What if the majority of EV takers see the EV as an urban-car only, and decide to keep (or rent when needed, as Richard pointed out) a bigger, safer and *warmer*, thermal-drivetrain car for holidays / intercity runs?
    Will anyone, in Europe, really need a 350-400 mile range EV (at the expense of charging time (travel ‘breaks’ lasting much longer than promised at the ads, waiting for a charger slot to be release by another user etc…), and the inconveniences of a higher ‘entry cost’, huge weight
    / loss of dynamic vivacity?

    With a view to the above range vs. footprint dilemmas, Mazda obviously plays on the intelligent card (although, with the world getting where it’s going, this might not be a palpable market advantage…) that an European urban user might actually buy into the charge-once-a-week convenience. Suburban users could find the MX-30 a practical proposition for non-daily usage as well (eg. a second car in the farm, for nicer, warmer-weather weekend outings etc.).

    Another huge, possibly disastrous gap is the largely underestimated residential proportion of flats/condos vs. housing: over the pond, more than 95% of the population have a driveway or similar space where they can charge daily if needed, and surely overnight, without waiting for a charger to be released… Whereas in Europe, the avg.residential split ‘weight distribution’ is way more flats/condos heavy, meaning that
    a real-life owning a BEV (street charging) is not nearly as convenient over here. This renders the once-per-week promise the only credible USP of the EV in Europe, for most of the typical potential adopters. Charging the car on Saturday afternoon while doing the shopping
    or visiting IKEA does not sound so inconvenient, after all, provided
    such “cross-selling” infrastructure develops fast. Daily charging,
    in a busy German or Italian city? Not likely at all.

    As to the styling, MX-30 appears somewhat risky. This design will need a few years to be judged objectively in hindsight, as it is a rather complex,
    maybe even a ‘polished’, if unconventional effort. It plays on the card of having a distinct character – plenty of it. As the automotive landscape grows more and more homogenous with the seen-one-seen-them-allSUV, those less social-acceptance challenged among us might even find the MX30 just a tad or two more distinctive & cheeky and actually buy it.

    I see a bit of Cactus Mk1 / Kona in the front fenders / bonnet, which is not bad. The roofline slope and that chunky roof visual thickness somehow fail to rhyme with the disciplined lower body – but it somehow clicks,
    in a pleasing if slightly snobbish manner. Those quirky doors look somewhat ill-proportioned when closed, but really adorable when
    open (which might induce some “gotta have it” secondary sales cravings at school parking lots etc.). Juraj Sebalj finds them almost worryingly impractical, though, in this video review:

    Interior is a class above many rivals, it just feels classy in a sensual,
    rich way that only the (brilliant) i3 and Honda E can deliver. Having in mind that EVs tend to be cold (a permanent “on” heating, or seat-heaters “on” in harsh winters is a wishful thinking – more range horrod than range anxiety…), the perceived visual & tactile ‘warmth’ of any EV cabin will be crucial for the long-term sales success.

    And Mazda is seldom wrong.

    1. The range problem of BEVs will soon no longer be a problem.

      CO2 avoidance and SARS Cov in multiplication lead directly to a “new normality”. The former will become the basic duty of the good citizen, the latter will not disappear but remain in the world.

      In this “new normality”, freedom, and with it the freedom to travel as we have known it in recent decades, will no longer be an issue. The range of movement of homo sapiens in the western hemisphere (at least in Europe, and especially within the EU) will be reduced to a level for which a bicycle will suffice – at least for the few moments when you are allowed to leave your home.
      And where should one go? A few more months, if not years, lockdown and restaurants, pubs, cafes will be gone. Cinemas, theatres etc too. Of the retail shops in the city centres, only the “system-relevant” (however this will be defined) will have a chance of survival – and these will make most of their sales through delivery services.
      Then it will no longer matter that national borders – except for goods traffic – are closed.
      For life in this “new normality”, the range of a BEV of 100-200 km will be quite sufficient. Especially since this “low range” will only be the problem of a privileged (having) class anyway.

      In this respect, I see the Mazda as a harbinger of this new form of green-washed mobility.
      Much more serious than the battleships that roll off the production lines in Untertürkheim or Ingolstadt.

      I also take my hat off to the designers at Mazda, the MX-30 is really very beautiful. Beautiful in the sense of “nice” and not in the sense of “not as ugly as the competition”.
      I’m not the target group, for many reasons, but I wouldn’t have a problem with the (non-hidden) doors. I would have more of a problem with the coal mine in the interior and the grey/black plastic coverings – well, the painter-of-my-confidence would have something to say about the latter…

    2. Two hundred years ago the range of the average citizen was no more than 20 to 30 kilometres from the village in which he was born. Only very few had the opportunity to visit the next city, let alone places further away.
      This all changed with the advent of railways which made mobility affordable for average people and gave them the chance to visit places they formerly only had heard of.
      When normal people saw how the selected few could afford to live they demanded change.

      If the Greens have their way we will return to what we had two hundred years ago, not just with regard to mobility but also to the segregation of our society. The only difference then is that the selected few will be Greens, not Nobility.

    3. Dave:
      I think you have a straw man idea of sustainable development. While I think there are some aspects of a sustainable future they are a lot less dreary than the prospect of an uninhabitable planet which is where we´re heading with business as usual! So, let´s cheer up and look forward to liveable planet, cleaner air and better technology. It´ll be good fun! I am firmly of the opinion (per Adam Smith) that there´s no mechanism better than finding solutions to human problems than a fairly regulated free-market.

  12. Mazda is taking a different approach to EV cars. Unlike basically every other manufacturer ( apart for Honda) they aim at at a substantially shorter range ( ca 200km vs for example 340km for the e208).
    I have owned an e-golf since 2015 as a second car. I drive around 80 km daily and even the very limited range (rear life range is around 130km) of that one is enough. I can not see many whose needs out of a second car i any higher than 100km a day. Now mazda offers around 200. It is obviously less than the norm and for some users even as a second car that is an deal-braker. I take my mother in law as an example who needs to drive into the capital ( Oslo) from where we live say twice a month (around 100km distance). She bought an EV 6 months ago and she would never accept this kind of range ( ended up with a 40kW leaf she is very satisfied with by the way).
    Obviously everybody wants more range but it come at a cost. So mazda ends up 15% cheaper than the 208/leaf etc and provides a higher end product in terms of design and most probably build quality (I have no personal experience with the mazda). Should I be looking to change the e-golf today (which I have to say has not had any sign of battery exhaustion or range reduction after 55000) I would definitely go for the mazda and I hope mazda manage to find enough buyers, it is nice to have variety in the marked.
    I think EV range anxiety is something you experience at first and then it just vanishes, charging becomes a part of the way you drive (as long as you can charge overnight otherwise admittedly it would be a hassle).

    1. Interesting post, thanks. Whenever I think of range anxiety I wonder about the Citroen CX Turbo with its 220 mile range and a Silver Shadow with a similar figure.
      The essence of this issue is that the over-engineering of cars is now costing too much to sustain. I must admit, I really appreciate that my car can hurtle almost a thousand kms before asking to stop in to an Aral station. It is however, mostly a theoretical matter as I only do this once a year, if that.
      On a more general level, the 1000 km, 5-seater car is one answer to a problem which has multimodal answers that are now only being recognised.

  13. Well, we are different, live different lifes and have vastly different needs out of a car. The needs of a farmer in Scotland for example are vastly different from those of a young family living in the suburbs of London. I think it is only positive for us as consumers that different products coexist that cover various needs.
    EVs are new and scary to everybody until tried in real life. I was once talking to a tesla owner who had traded in his older tesla for a new one and actually went for one with a shorter range since in the two years he had the previous one he realized that he had never actually needed the extra range so he did not see the need to pay the extra cost…

  14. While we´re here:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/22/electric-vehicles-close-to-tipping-point-of-mass-adoption
    And if you hunger for more wisdom on these hallowed pages:
    https://driventowrite.com/2018/12/05/end-combustion-engines-vw-gm/#more-47671

    Because it´s a rich with wisdom, my point of the impending ICE brick wall is worth repeating. It is that as soon as the market gets a strong whiff of collapsing residuals ICEs will suddenly be much harder to sell. Someone in the market has a good idea about which year is the one where the value of a used car is too close to zero to make it worth buying new.

    If you knew you´d get very little of your 30,000 GBP back on a new car you would not buy one new. It would seem to me that we should watch the sales values of used cars closely. The price a new car commands is related to the price it is worth when sold in 12, 14, 36 months etc. At present the “nearly worthless stage” (NWS) is 12 years (open to discussion) and I think this NWS is going to occur sooner and sooner, faster and faster.

    As a side point, would it be true that the NWS stage for cars increased in the 1980s and 1990s so that there was oversupply of quite good used cars competing with new cars?

    1. Those are some very interesting questions, Richard. Regarding the value of combustion vehicles, one would expect manufacturers to manage this (like they did with the scrappage scheme). Equally, as we approach the ban on combustion-only cars, there may be a surge in demand, as those wishing to buy a combustion-only vehicle do so. I wouldn’t expect a collapse in values, as some people will always want combustion vehicles and there will be fewer of them as time progresses and they get scrapped.

      Has the ‘nearly worthless stage’ receded? Yes, from about 50,000 miles and 6 years before the ‘60s, to 10 years and 100,000 miles in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It’s about 13 years, now. The main cause of used vehicle under- or over-supply is new sales, of course. In boom times, there tend to be more new sales, which feed through to more used stock and lower prices; used stock becomes worth less and gets scrapped more quickly. The opposite is true in recessions, so it all balances out.

  15. Afternoon Andrew. Another interesting article so thank you for that. SUV’s of either variety – ICE or EV – don’t do much for me I’m afraid. Always interested in the “apparent” pros and cons of both modes though and no doubt that will continue for a while yet.

    1. The format of SUV is now so watered down and elastic that I often don´t even register SUV-like cars as SUVs. A G-wagen and some LandRovers are SUVs. Many others are raised hatchbacks and I view them as such. We ought to just call these things crossovers or hatchbacks and the leave the term SUV for proper ones like the Jimny and Land Cruiser.

    2. Richard: “We ought to just call these things crossovers or hatchbacks and the leave the term SUV for proper ones like the Jimny and Land Cruiser.”

      Some of us already do…

    3. Jolly good, Mr Doyle, carry on!
      I didn´t say it earlier very clearly. This Mazda is jolly nice in lots of ways and it even allows customers the option of a cork centre console. The design of the interior is also much less insane than we often see. There´s a 3 parked on my street and it stands out for its other-worldly quality a bit like an Olympic athlete among couch potatoes.

    4. I concur. The current Mazda 3, three quarter blind spot notwithstanding (because someone is bound to mention it), is a visual breath of fresh air, in hatch or saloon form. I believe that Mazda are one of the few carmakers who are engaged with the idea of making car designs that are at least on nodding terms with the cause of aesthetic elegance. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am very keen to see what they do with the forthcoming Mazda 6.

    5. Out of the entire C-segment, only Mazda makes a really stand out car. It´s almost luminous. Infuriatingly nobody seems to notice because it´s from the “wrong” showroom. If one of the others had launched it, Autocar would be bursting with enthusiasm for a revolutionary design (or at least a wildly striking one). After that Ford follows up with its very-hard-to-describe subtle sculpting (actually it´s a bit supercar-like) which impresses me every time I see one.
      You´ll be asking me about the Opel Astra now. I still like it, it´s an enjoyably bourgeois car which will probably remain lovely as long they are on the road (as Astras tend to do).

    6. Couldn’t agree more about the Mazda 3. For those who can’t get along with the hatchback’s rear haunches, there’s the lovely saloon:

      The way the light falls on those flanks is just sublime

    7. Agreed, Mazda are the man purveyors of visual beauty these days. The most recent cars’ surfacing in particular is a thing to behold (and takes ages and plenty of effort, if those who created are to be believed) – which is why I wonder about MX-30’s somewhat slab-sided appearance. There’s one parked in my neighbourhood: it features none of the intriguing reflections and subtle drama that make the 3 models such stand-outs.

  16. Eóin, absolutely. Insanely, it even looks like it will get a new in-line 6 cylinder engine in some markets. If it looks anything like the Vision concept, I might have to sell the C6 and get one.

  17. Never had doubts that the Kodo 2.0 will ultimately appeal to visually literate individuals, after the initial shock has (by now) recessed.
    The 3, especially in Hatch form, has almost Supercar-levels
    of street presence.

    What I really look forward, though, is the 2023 (NE) MX-5. Based on certain sketches / renders, and based on what the 3 had brought to the Strassenbild, we are probably in for a game-changing styling milestone
    with that one.
    (Fingers crossed the world does not self-imprison by then, in the
    gloomy manner Fred visualized above. All should be fine, I believe,
    after the planet takes a 2-3 years sabbatical from all the excess
    it experienced in the meantime).

  18. Perhaps I’ve been watching too many re-runs of Monty Python clips, but looking at Daniel’s Mazda 3 saloon I keep imagining the giant hand, just out of shot, which was gripping it a little too hard as it placed it for the photographer….

    Sorry – yes, those reflections are indeed delightful.

  19. I have no use for a vehicle to do short trips. Everything I need on a daily basis is within walking distance. I only use my car for driving to friends and family, one way trips between 100 and 250 kilometers. I’d like to be able to drive there and return the same day.

    As for the design: I prefer other Mazda models in the lineup. Sorry, no sale.

    1. Mr de Ruiter, welcome to the showroom… I am of the understanding you don´t need a car on a daily basis … well, step this way … let me show the new easy rent-a-car programme …. in a range of delightful colour and trims …. simply pay 150 euros a month and whenever you need a car to visit your family and friends we´ll deliver a car to your door and off you go … this includes a taxi from our office when you return the car …. that includes three trips a month up to 600 km and extra kilometres cost 10c each….

    2. Mr. Herriott, you sometimes say something in a way I would like to say it, but I lack the polished thoughts to say it the way you do.

      (…and you have certainly noticed that I did not use the word “cynical” in my statement – of which I am very proud).

    3. Fred: thank you.
      My household is pretty much in the same boat as Freerk. There are three supermarkets within 5 minutes walking distance and the school and one workplace within 8 minutes (the second workplace is 100 km away and I use the train). The car is used for the same kinds of trips as Freerk. To be honest I didn´t find an “easy-rent-a-car” programme that was quite handy enough when we were carless so we rented them the old-fashioned way, one at a time. The car-sharing programme seemed the worst of all worlds with its standing payments and high-per-km rates. So we just used Europcar who have an office near us. Danish car rental prices are, it is to be noted, ferocious compared to Germany. Another time I used Sixt for a series of business journeys to a place where public transport was unfeasible (three hours for 60 km – it was in an odd place). When I got there I noticed there had been a train line (now a bike path, carpark, row of trees) which was a bit maddening and with a train the trip would have taken maybe 40 minutes.

  20. Various news sources reported this:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/28/gm-electric-vehicles-cars-gas-diesel

    The target it 2035 for GM to abandon ICE cars. Good but at least seven years too slow, I would say. It almost seems pointless to bother with model renewal if there are only two cycles left. Still, I hope this is sincere and if so would be a move that would “change the game”, so to speak (I am referring here to how in sports a significant move or tactic can reverse fortunes so that one´s perception of the winner might alter as in the 1976 Wimbledon final where Jørgen Larsen faced Ted Beckles and Beckles reversed his three set deficit by hitting 30 balls directly past Larsen who seemed to be non-plussed at the sudden ferocity of Beckles´ performance.)

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