Mazda’s First Electric Vehicle Dies in Infancy

The typical model run of a modern vehicle is five to seven years, and in most instances the end of that span an automaker will pull the wraps off a new version of it. Or replace it entirely with a new (and presumably better) nameplate occupying the same basic niche. Consider the current Mazda CX-5; it went on sale for 2017 and is still going strong—although it may eventually be supplanted by the similar (and really excellent) CX-50. But their little sibling—the unusual (and star-crossed) MX-30 didn’t make it to its third model year. Mazda has officially announced that, when the 2023 MX-30s are gone, that’s it.

The numbers show, starkly, why the MX-30 got the axe. In June 2023, just 16—sixteen—MX-30s were sold, a 30.4 percent drop from last year’s still troubling grand total of 23 sold. From January through June, only 66 MX-30s have made it into the hands of customers, compared to 316 for the same time period in 2022. These are, in mainstream vehicle terms, almost rounding errors. Mazda sold 866 MX-5 Miatas in June, and those aren’t huge numbers in the grand scheme of things.

The MX-30, by anyone’s measure, is a sales disaster. But, perhaps, a foreseeable one. The MX-30’s 35.5-kWh battery is small, and provides an EPA estimated 100 miles of range in ideal conditions. Mazda’s claims are ones we’ve heard before: small batteries are a more efficient use of scarce raw materials, most trips in the U.S. are short, a smaller battery helps reduce weight and improve driving dynamics. Yes—all true. On paper.

In the real world, 100 miles of range is truly anxiety inducing. Throw in some inclement weather, and hills, and the MX-30 is a vehicle that you wouldn’t want to stray far from a fast-charger. And even at said fast-charger, you’d wait a while. The peak observed charging rate on a 50 kW charger was 36 kW in our testing, meaning the typical 10 to 80 percent charge that Mazda claims the MX-30 would make in 36 minutes took us a little more than an hour.

What did we like about it? Well, the MX-30 looks cool, drives like a typical Mazda (that’s a good thing), and has a funky and premium-feeling interior. While its absolute price is low, the value doesn’t pencil out considering the limited range and milquetoast performance. The raw thrust of an EV like the Ioniq 5 AWD is a big part of the appeal; the MX-30 wheezes to 60 MPH in 8.3 seconds, and doesn’t feel very peppy.

Considering all the faint praise and the range limitations—limitations that brought to mind the earliest EVs, compliance specials sold to fulfill mandates rather than owners’ driveways—we wondered from the get-go if Mazda had done their homework to ensure the MX-30 would work in this market. As it turns out, the MX-30 got a failing grade from consumers, and it’s not getting a terribly flattering eulogy.

Maybe Mazda’s next EV will be better suited for our market; until Mazda figures that out, however, it’ll focus on selling us larger PHEVs like the CX-90 and CX-70.

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