At first glance, you might think that Mazda has made a serious mistake with the MX-30 electric compact crossover.
Automakers are racing to ease customers’ anxiety about electric vehicles by fitting larger and larger batteries that permit 400 km of range or even more. But Mazda has given the MX-30 a 35.5. kilowatt hour battery pack, resulting in a range of about 200 km.
And there isn’t really a price benefit, either: The similarly sized Hyundai Kona EV, which has a 39-kWh battery pack that permits 289 km of range under the WLTP cycle, is priced at about 38,000 euros, compared with the MX-30's expected price of about 35,000 euros.
Not so, Mazda says. It is simply taking a different approach in deciding to give the MX-30 a smaller battery pack.
Or, in the words of Christian Schultze, director and deputy general manager at Mazda Europe’s r&d center, it is giving the new model a battery pack that is “responsibly” sized.
Mazda is basing this claim on a life-cycle assessment of total CO2 emissions, saying that the MX-30 with a 35.5 kWh battery pack is comparable to a diesel Mazda 3 compact hatchback (see chart, below) on that basis. Schultze said that even after replacing the battery pack, something that could occur after 160,000 km (100,000 miles) of use, the MX-30's total CO2 emissions are still similar to the diesel’s.
Mazda says that a 95-kWh battery pack would have substantially higher CO2 emissions from Day One, both from the production of the larger pack and higher electricity consumption. And when that larger pack needs to be replaced, overall emissions will jump again, Mazda says.
Calculations like this mean that we may have to re-assess our view of the growing electric vehicle sector: A car’s environmental footprint could be equally important to buyers as its price, purpose and range.