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Mazda set to trial electric Mazda2

All-electric Mazda2: Green in more ways than one.

Japanese fleets set to give Mazda’s first EV a workout in quest for data

Mazda logo25 Jan 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

MAZDA is set to dip its toe in the electric vehicle arena in Japan with its first all-electric vehicle (EV) based on the Mazda2 (known in Japan as the Demio).

The vehicle will be trialled by local government and corporate fleets to give Mazda an insight into EV use in the real world as it looks beyond its latest SkyActiv internal combustion drivetrains and weight-saving technologies.

While the experimental battery-powered Mazda2 is Mazda’s first full EV, it is not the first all-electric Mazda2 to hit the roads. That honour goes to Australia’s Energetique, which sells converted versions of the light car badged as the evMe in Australia and Europe.

Like the evMe, the official Mazda version is expected to have a range of 200km.

In past, the Hiroshima-based car-maker has predominantly focussed its vision on hydrogen and fuel cell technology. In the 1990s, it developed a golf buggy-type vehicle powered by a fuel cell manufactured by Ballard Power Systems. Its next project was to develop its own fuel cell in-house, which it fitted to a Demio FC-EV prototype in 1997.

Two years later, Mazda contributed its experience to a fuel cell development program in collaboration with Ford, Daimler and Ballard, resulting in a second Demio FC-EV prototype. The project culminated in 2001, with Mazda testing a Premacy FC-EV on Japanese roads.

Mazda also developed a dual-fuel petrol/hydrogen-powered rotary engine for the RX-8 sportscar. It further developed the technology into a hybrid drivetrain and fitted it to the Premacy people-mover, which was made available on lease in Japan.

22 center imageEV and fuel cell trials aside, Mazda says its commitment to the internal combustion engine will continue as it sees the technology “remain[ing] the heart of the automobile for the near future”.

As GoAuto has reported, Mazda announced its intentions to pursue low emissions and fuel consumption through SkyActiv internal combustion technology and lightweight construction at the 2009 Tokyo motor show, where it unveiled the Kiyora concept.

As part of a plan to achieve its target for improving range-wide fuel economy by 30 per cent by 2015, the company intends to further increase the efficiency of its internal combustion-powered vehicles by phasing in hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology – which it will buy in from Toyota and with which it says the new SkyActiv engines are compatible.

The first SkyActiv-powered car to arrive in Australia is likely to be a Mazda2, which is claimed to achieve hybrid-beating fuel consumption of 3.3l/100km in Japan. That car is expected in late 2011.

In December last year, Mazda Australia imported a Japanese-market Mazda3 test car fitted with the company’s own version of idle-stop, which restarts the engine using a spark to ignite fuel injected into the combustion chamber rather than relying fully on the starter motor.

Mazda’s 2010 Australian sales were up 9.1 per cent year-on-year, with 84,777 cars finding homes. Its best seller by far was the Mazda3, which accounted for 46 per cent of volume with 39,003 units sold.

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