Mazda e-TPV: the electric car according to Mazda



the ultimate breeding ground for electric vehicles, which now account for more than 50% of new vehicle sales in this Scandinavian country - for a first contact with Mazda's electrification technology, and to drive a prototype still in development.

It should be noted right away that the vehicle you see in the photos, identified by the e-TPV designation, for Electric Test Prototype Vehicle, is not the standard electric vehicle that will be presented in the world premiere by Mazda at the next Tokyo Auto Show. Rather, it is a CX-30 under which Mazda's new electric vehicle architecture, consisting of a 35.5 kWh battery, an electric motor, and possibly a range extender that will take the form of a rotating engine with a rotor with an estimated 600 cubic centimeters.

Against the current

When you read the previous paragraph, you understood that, once again, Mazda is original and innovative, even bold, since this approach is almost at odds with the current trend. Today, this trend is to launch electric models with a high capacity battery, and a substantial range, even for compact vehicles. For example, the Kia Soul EV can have a 39.2 or 64 kWh battery, devout from the buyer's choice.

With a 35.5 kWh battery, Mazda's eventual electric model will only be able to compete directly with the least-performing version of the Soul, let alone other electric models powered by larger batteries. In this regard, Mazda replies that its 35.5 kilowatts per hour will be sufficient for the target clientele. This may be true in Europe or Asia, but it is less so in North America, where the potential customer base of an electric vehicle expects more range than Mazda's eventual electric vehicle, which is estimated to be about 200 kilometres in ideal conditions.
A rotary engine as a range extender

In order to be able to drive longer distances, Mazda plans to offer a version of its possible electric vehicle that will be equipped with a rotary engine acting as a range extender. When asked about this, the brand's engineers have just made it clear that this engine will only have one rotor and that there will be no mechanical link between this thermal engine and the vehicle's motor wheels. In short, this rotary engine will only act as a generator to generate electrical current in order to power the battery while driving. As this rotary engine will have only one rotor, it is estimated that it will be about 600 cubic centimeters, which has not been confirmed by the vehicle development managers, who merely repeat that this engine was still in development. However, let's bet that this process should be close to the final phase, since Mazda's electric model will be presented this fall in Tokyo.

Also, it should be pointed out that the choice of a rotary engine, turning at a constant speed, proves very wise for this application which is that of acting strictly as an extension of autonomy. In addition, this thermal engine will be able to operate with gasoline, diesel, liquefied propane gas, or even hydrogen, as fuel. Imagine for a moment the possibility of driving an electric vehicle powered by clean energy such as our hydro-electricity and equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. This would make it a vehicle without any direct polluting emissions...

The best dynamic of all electric vehicles

As mentioned earlier, I was able to drive a Mazda prototype, which was not equipped with the range extender discussed above, but only the electric motor driving the front wheels. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to drive just about every electric vehicle launched on the market, and I can assure you that the Mazda prototype has the best cornering dynamics of all electric vehicles driven to date.

Even though it is an electric vehicle, the pleasure in the corners is absolutely not diluted at the wheel of this prototype, whose behavior perfectly emulated that of a CX-5, which is the reference of its category for dynamics. On this side, it is an admirable achievement.
A 140-horsepower.

If the dynamics in the turn impress, the power and torque leave something to be desired. The electric motor of the tested prototype has an estimated power of 105 kilowatts, which corresponds to 140 horsepower, and a torque of 265 newtons/meter, which equates to 195 pound-feet.

If the initial acceleration remains satisfactory, an electric motor developing its maximum torque without delay as soon as the accelerator is pushed, the relative weakness of power and torque reverses the retakes, which complicates overtaking on secondary roads, and may affect certain manoeuvres such as the entrances on the highway. A more powerful electric motor would certainly be desirable, especially in our North American context. Mazda's designers have developed a typical "electric" sound that looks eerily similar to that of a remarkably well-balanced four-cylinder engine with a high-performance silencer. This new sound is quite familiar and greatly enhances the driving experience.

No full cog on the program

Mazda did not specify what type of standard electric vehicle will be presented at the Tokyo Auto Show on October 23. It is not known whether it will be a sedan, hatchback, crossover or SUV. What is known, however, is that Mazda intends to market this new electric vehicle as early as 2020, but it is not yet known which markets will be treated as a priority.

It is also known that it will be a traction vehicle, the full cog is not on the program for this first electric platform of the Japanese manufacturer. However, the latter is aware of the importance of the integral cog for the North American market, as evidenced by the availability of this cog on the recent Mazda3. The full cog therefore remains under consideration and could eventually be proposed. If it is not on this first electric-powered model, it may be on the second , larger size - which is being developed.

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