The Mazda Miata generations average about eight to 10 years, which means the current fourth-generation ND Miata, in production since 2015, is starting to get a little long in the tooth. It’s hard to imagine the Miata being anything other than a rear-wheel-drive gas roadster, but Mazda is reportedly in the midst of trying to electrify it.
That’s according to Motor1, which obtained the following statement from Mazda this week:
Mazda is seeking to electrify the MX-5 Miata in an effort to have all models feature a form of electrification by 2030. We will work hard to make it a lightweight, affordable, open two-seater sports car in order to meet the needs of customers.
Motor1 deduces from this (or perhaps confirmed on background with Mazda) that this means that the next-generation Miata, the NE, will be electrified, and perhaps that is right but it also seems possible that Mazda might wait for the NF, since 2030 is a good long time from now. It’s also possible that Mazda means all “models” of the Miata will have some sort of electric drive, but it’s more likely that some kind of hybrid or electric version of the Miata will be an option.
Certainly a car company can make a light hybrid (the original Honda Insight was lighter than the current Miata by a decent amount) but it’s not easy, and it always presents trade-offs.
I also don’t know what the point of electrifying the Miata is, other than Mazda going along with the prevailing sentiment or complying with government regulation, as the manual Miata gets 29 mpg combined. Getting 29 mpg is not stellar, but it isn’t bad either and also it’s not like Mazda sells a ton of these things.
Mazda sold 8,807 Miatas in the U.S. last year, or about three per cent of its total car sales in the U.S., a number I wouldn’t expect to be too different globally. Still, the MX-5 is Mazda’s defining product, a car that can’t go away and probably never will. If I were Mazda, then, I’d be trying to figure out what an all-electric version of the Miata looks like, make it, and then show it to the world and explain that the Miata has been with us for over 30 years and this is the version that will be with us for the next 30. Mazda would probably sell at least 8,807 of them.