Why Mazda is in no rush to go electric

By RELAXNEWS | 7 March 2017

PARIS: There's still more upside in the internal combustion engine, says Mazda France president Philippe Geffroy.

"There is no real pressure coming from our customers for alternative fuel vehicles. Both in the US and Europe a minority of either wealthy customers, or companies willing to play the ecological image are buying EV," said Geffroy.

This isn't a suggestion that EVs are a fashion accessory, but that currently, greater gains can be made from refining the traditional powertrain.

"[Mazda] believes there still is room for combustion engine, especially when you consider the complete carbon footprint," he said. "We've been working on weight reduction for a very long time. On the other hand, we also improved our engine efficiency thanks to our work on compression ratio. This allowed us to achieve low fuel consumption and emissions while maintaining great performances and driving pleasure."

Consider the new MX-5, the 2016 World Car of the Year, comes with every modern refinement, yet is lighter than the original car launched in 1999. Or the fact that in 2016, for the fourth year running, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named Mazda the most fuel efficient car maker in America.

"However, we will go on working on other types of engine like electric, hybrid or hydrogen," said Geffroy, "With the clear objective to improve them and commercialise them when ready to provide a customer service comparable to the one of combustion engines."

In that respect he, like most in the industry, are concerned that increasing regulation could force something to market before it's truly ready. And it is the same concern that tempers his enthusiasm regarding other technological developments within the industry such as autonomous driving and the potential for things like car-sharing and mobility on demand.

"What can be worrying is how regulations evolve - especially their slow progress or their instability because if the regulations are not stable no one can invest in the adequate technologies nor implement them," he said.

Geffroy also said motor shows need to evolve and adapt to the technological revolution under way.

"Motor shows have to revamp their current format to offer the public not only today's vision of the cars but also a better understanding of what are the various prospects in car technologies and uses," said the president of Mazda France. "If not, it is likely that people will go to other shows or use digital tools to find out by themselves."