BEVs Likely To Remain Niche in Next Decade, Says Mazda

Electrification will not spell the end of the ICE powertrain particularly because full BEVs cannot make great strides among carbuyers.

That’s the opinion of probably the most innovative Japanese carmaker, Mazda, which also predicts alternative combustion fuels could be as clean as any other powertrain technology. TU-Automotive caught up with the automaker’s Hajime Seikaku, vice-president of its European research and development Center at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show to find out more.

Seikaku said that far from dying out, ICE will be an integral part of Mazda’s electrification strategy. He said: “We are introducing a combination of internal combustion engines with electrification technology to certain markets depending in the countries’ energy producing capabilities. So, we have a multi-solution approach.”

Limited BEV prediction

He also highlighted that, globally, BEVs are likely to remain niche products. Seikaku said: “Under our current plan, we see around 2030 about 95% of vehicles will be a combination of internal combustion engines with electrification in some form. The remaining 5% will be pure EVs.”

Mazda has for many years won fans among the more engineering savvy auto enthusiasts with its developments in rotary engine technology that will be reintroduced within its electrification strategy as a range extender. It also launched its micro-combustion technology featured in the new Mazda 3 at the show.

At the same time Mazda is research into sustainable zero CO2 emission ICE fuels – fuels that when combusted emit only the same amount of CO2 as are used in producing electricity on a well-to-wheel measure. These include synthetic and bio fuels from sustainable sources. In aviation, too, high energy density alternative liquid fuels are required and, if there is a sustainable fuel for aviation, it can be used for automotive applications.

Seikaku believes the future of powertrains is far from a certain one and that means ICE has a future. He explained: “While this is our plan, it’s not something anyone can be totally certain about because we think it’s not as important to concentrate on what methods are used in powertrains but to reduce C02 emissions to become more environmentally friendly for our customers. Our key message is that we believe ICE will play an important role for the time being.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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