Mazda is considering an electric or hybrid powertrain for the next Miata, according to Autocar’s interview with Mazda R&D boss Ichiro Hirose. A low-cost electric roadster sounds like a blast, but I wonder if battery technology exists for a Miata to have both decent range and the lightweight dynamics that the Miata has always been known for.
“We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options,” said Hirose, “I don’t have the answer now but we need to make a vehicle that people can own without worrying that they are not being eco-friendly.”
A lot of people still cite range anxiety as the reason they don’t want to switch to an EV, so an EPA estimated range below 240 kilometres might make people hesitant to pick up an electric Miata. On the other hand, I can’t see Mazda adding a half-ton battery and still maintaining a low price. Also, all that weight could ruin the fun, nimble driving dynamics, even though the low-mounted batteries would drop the centre of mass. Mini certainly had a hard time doing it.
I hybridised my roadster, an old Honda S600, and pretty quickly unhybridised it. I like electric vehicles, and they are better in a lot of objective and subjective ways, but a small, lightweight, inexpensive electric roadster with good range is going to be very difficult to pull off.
I know, I’m a bad EV engineer, but I can’t help but wonder if Miata should combust for one more generation, and maybe wait for the batteries get a bit lighter before switching to electrons.