Mazda MX-30: the first EV with Jinba-Ittai credo
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 was a truly momentous occasion for the Mazda Motor Corp., the Hiroshima-based manufacturer, as they unveiled to the public, their first-ever pure battery electric vehicle, the MX-30.
The MX moniker (which stands for Motoring Experiment) is given to Mazda vehicles that offer a new concept or idea for the brand. The MX-5 was one such model, offering a small, affordable sportscar package that was fun to drive. The MX-30 continues this fun-to-drive legacy, refined with Jinba Ittai philosophy (horse and rider as one) in a more practical cross-over package with a coupe-like silhouette.
The MX-30 sits atop the all-new Mazda 3 architecture, with the third iteration of its KODO: Soul of Motion design theme. The crossover body style was selected as a result of the raised flooring necessitated by placing the battery pack on the floor. According to Mazda, the relationship between people and cars continues to change over time. Today Mazda puts forward a “Human Modern” concept, through the MX-30, to express the driver’s “daily joy” interacting with each other and while using their cars. Based on Mazda’s emphasis on beautiful shape and craftsmanship created with human hands, Mazda explored a new direction that closely matches with a modern lifestyle. The company feels they have created a unique design that embodies “Kodo” extension through an unprecedented approach to expression.
With dimensions measuring 4.395 meters in length, 1.795m in width, a height of 1.570m along with a 2.655m wheelbase, the MX-30 is compact, with a minimum of overhangs to give it an athletic and purposeful stance, but without sacrificing versatility, comfort and convenience. Stylish 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/55R18 tires round out the rolling stock.
The MX-30 features “suicide” rear-hinged doors and manages without a traditional B-pillar. Advancements in stamping and welding technology plus the use of special high strength steel, particularly around the door frame openings, assures it is still safe and rigid especially in the event of a side-impact.
The design team created an open-feeling cabin interior and paid particular attention to the selecting the right materials and showing them in ways that bring out their best. Heritage Cork used in the console tray is designed to emphasize the texture and visual warmth of the material. The door trim features a fibrous material with a texture that seems to contain air, creating a material-based sense of openness within the cabin. Both of these materials are designed to be low-impact and sustainable. The door trim uses fibers made from recycled plastic bottles and the cork is harvested from the bark of trees without felling.
Cork is a product long associated with Mazda, as the company initially produced cork almost 100 years ago under the Toyo Cork Kogyo in 1920, and later renamed to Toyo Kogyo Cork in 1927. Next year, the brand will celebrate its centennial founding.
The MX-30’s electric powertrain, dubbed E-SkyActiv, was developed completely in-house. Early pre-production prototypes of the MX-30 have delivered an output of ~140 hp and ~265 Nm of torque supplied by a 35.5kW/h lithium-ion battery and have been able to deliver a range of 209 km from a single charge. Final specs are yet to be released for the production version as the MX-30 is still undergoing final homologation and testing.
Mazda says they could have increased range by simply increasing the number of Panasonic lithium-ion batteries, but doing so would defeat the purpose of creating an energy efficient vehicle with a low carbon footprint. Current battery production technology emits massive amounts of Co2, and weighing down the MX-30 would decrease energy efficiency and blight its Jinba-Ittai characteristics (referring to the symbiotic relationship developed over time by a horse and rider). This is in-line with Mazda’s philosophy of improving the overall well-to-wheel philosophy, improving not only the vehicle’s efficiency, but also reducing the environmental impact of vehicles from production all the way to product end-of-life.
The demand for safety is increasing day-by-day. As such, Mazda MX-30 is equipped with further-enhanced advanced safety technology, i-Activsense. Specifically, Mazda’s injury and damage-mitigating brake technology, Smart Brake Support (SBS), adds a collision prevention function at intersections. Another new technology assists avoiding deviation from the driving lane through monitoring the curb, in addition to lane markings. In addition, the frame structures pay minute attention to the protection of the high-voltage battery. The MX-30 incorporates these latest safety philosophies and technologies to enable safe and joyful driving. Of course, Mazda’s GVC or G-Vectoring control is standard and has been tweaked to utilize the MX-30’s unique EV characteristics, making for a safer and sharper drive.
Mazda will offer an artificial aural element to help give the MX-30 a more organic and natural driving sensation, and have developed a special accelerator pedal to help give a more natural and progressive feel when moving from a stop (since EV’s generate maximum torque at zero RPM, taking off from a traditional EV can be very jerky). It also helps in battery charging and regeneration.
The MX-30 will first be made available early in 2020 in Europe, where both demand and legislation are in place, and where electric power generation is cheap thanks to geothermal, solar/wind power generation and other similar renewable energy sources.
Bermaz Auto Philippines, through its president, Steven Tan, says the company is open to importing the MX-30 in the future if there is demand and actual support from the government and utility companies to prvide the infrastructure for electric vehicles. With Nissan bringing in the Leaf sometime next year, and Hyundai as well with their Kona, it’s highly probable that we will see the MX-30 on our shores soon enough.
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