Even though Mazda’s MX-5 Miata sports car is lightweight, small, and easy on gas, those environmental positives won’t be enough to save it from the automaker’s eventual pivot to full electrification. But that doesn’t mean the Miata is going anywhere. In a technical briefing for media about the company’s “Medium-Term Technology and Product Policy,” the chief technical officer revealed that the Mazda roadster would be included in plans for lineup-wide electrification by 2030.
The news snuck out via the Kamura News, a Japanese publication that listened in on the briefing call. Mazda plans to be fully electrified—with 25 percent of its models fully battery-electric and the other 75 percent incorporating hybrid or PHEV technology—by 2030, joining many other automakers making similar pledges for roughly the same time in the future.
And Mazda has confirmed the executive wasn’t using the wrong talking points, releasing this official statement summarizing its Miata plans: “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.”
The important part here is that Mazda intends for the Miata to survive its transition to electrification. But “electrify” is an ambiguous term—does Mazda intend to produce a fully-electric Miata? Probably not. We’re not sure the battery technology exists that would allow for a lightweight, compact battery capable of delivering decent driving range and performance in a Miata-sized package. Perhaps in a decade it might, but now? Not so much.
A hybrid seems much more likely, with the electrification of a gas engine providing a bump in low-rpm torque with a minimal weight penalty and extended engine-off periods when stopped in traffic or at red lights. This would allow Mazda to keep the Miata small, lightweight, and—critically—imbued with the sort of “zoom-zoom” only a revvy, small gas engine can provide. Mazda’s powertrain portfolio currently includes a 24-volt mild hybrid system, with a 48-volt version and a rotary range extender for EVs coming soon. Of these, one of the two hybrid systems is the likeliest option.
The good news, despite all this uncertainty, is that the Miata appears to have a future within Mazda, even as the automaker barrels toward electrifying its lineup by 2030.