Mazda’s Largest Crossover Plugs In
Ahead of its world premiere in January 2023, Mazda has announced that its 2024 CX-90 – the largest crossover in its lineup and the replacement for the well-liked CX-9 – will be available as a plug-in hybrid. This is a major step towards electrification from a company that, until now, has focused almost entirely on internal combustion; the MX-30 electric crossover is only available in select markets and has a very short range.
While this is Mazda's first plug-in hybrid in the U.S., the company says that the new CX-90 PHEV will maintain the driving characteristics that Mazda has become known for: it will be responsive, offer sparkling performance, and fun driving dynamics. In fact, the company is adamant that the CX-90 PHEV will be a “performance-oriented” plug-in.
Under the CX-90’s hood will be an all-new e-Skyactiv powertrain, tuned specifically for the North American market, which the company says will provide customers with the best of both worlds in terms of performance and efficiency.
Big Electrification Plans
In 2022, Mazda announced plans to accelerate the electrification of its model lineup, moving towards the elimination of internal combustion engines by 2035. The SKYACTIV Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture, on which the CX-90 is based, has the capability to support gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and full-electric applications.
By 2025, Mazda will launch eight new hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric cars from the the new architecture. In addition to the CX-90 plug-in hybrid, these models will include a new version of the MX-30 full-electric crossover, a new CX-50 hybrid, and CX-70 plug-in hybrid. Mazda says that a fully-electric SUV will also come in 2025, while other models in its core lineup will include mild hybrid technology for increased efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.
Mazda will roll out a dedicated fully-electric architecture, called the SKYACTIV EV Scalable Architecture. It will be used exclusively for electric cars and will debut in 2025. The new platform will be highly flexible, meaning future generations of electric cars and SUVs can be made in various sizes and in many different body types. Mazda expects a major surge in EV demand between 2025 and 2030.
Interestingly, and unlike some other automakers, Mazda says it will continue to invest in improving its internal combustion engines. It will continue to lower the fuel consumption and emissions of its ICE-based vehicles even as it invests in electrification. This multi-solution approach offers a mix of different products and technologies to best suit local markets.
Still, by 2030, Mazda says that its entire fleet will be electrified – a mix of pure electric cars, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, and mild-hybrid vehicles that will be in line with regulatory requirements as well as customer demand. It feels that offering different electrification approaches will assure that all its customers can find the right model for them based on their individual needs.
Is Mazda being too conservative by hedging its bets? We don’t think so. Battery-powered EVs are taking an ever-increasing share of the market as fuel costs rise and drivers want to reduce their carbon footprint – but even the most bullish forecasts tell us that internal-combustion engines will continue to have a major presence in the market for the next decade.
The new CX-90 will debut in late January 2023. It will be interesting to see what Mazda’s first serious foray into the plug-in arena will look like.