After selling just 8 units last month and 505 in total, the 2022 Mazda MX-30 is now officially sold out in the US. But will he be back next year, or will that be the last we’ll see of this EV? And if it’s the end of the BEV model, will an upcoming PHEV model do better?
Mazda had modest goals for the MX-30 from the start. When we drove it last year, Mazda told us the goal was to sell just 560 units in the first model year in the US, all in California — a state that requires manufacturers to sell a certain number of zero-emission vehicles or face fines. Ultimately, due to production shortages, it fell about 10% short of that target.
At the time, it looked like the plan was to start electric vehicle sales in California and then expand elsewhere. Mazda said it planned to offer EV, PHEV and hybrid models depending on local conditions, such as charger availability and driving distances. Mazda also suggested it could change battery sizes for different regions.
Europe and California both exceeded Mazda’s claimed “local state” thresholds, so these two areas got the all-electric MX-30. We assumed it would expand to other areas, or continue in those areas, as loading conditions are only getting better, not worse.
However, Mazda is currently telling customers that the MX-30 is sold out and has no timeline for when new models may be back in stock.
Not with a bang, but with a whimper
In fact, we heard the news that the model was officially sold out more than a week ago, and yet we’ve seen this pretty much nowhere. July’s dismal sales figures were widely noticed, but no one really reported that the model was officially sold out. This car model has been treated so insignificantly that even its death has not been noticed. We asked in our original review, “The 2022 Mazda MX-30 misses the market, but does it matter?” and the answer seems to be, again, no.
Since we first heard that the model was officially sold out, we’ve been trying to get comments from Mazda about it. Mazda confirmed to us that a total of 505 MX-30s have been sold and that the model is now completely sold out. It declined to comment on whether 2023 cars are coming to dealers or if the MX-30 is sold out in other areas as well.
We’ve been able to find some MX-30s for sale in Europe, but we don’t know if more stock is coming or if the European market has also reached the end of the line.
Since sales of the MX-30 started in October last year, that means we have one to two months before the 2023 cars would come to dealers if they were in the plan, suggesting to us they aren’t.
Sold out forever?
So it looks like the MX-30 BEV has sold out in the US, perhaps forever, after being available in California for just 10 months in total and missing its modest sales target by 10%. Congratulations to the owners – you have an EV that is even rarer than the original Tesla Roadster.
But what to be Mazda’s plans for the future? Mazda is planning other EVs, as we were told last year that it will announce three new EVs by 2025. We hope the MX-30, which died an untimely death, doesn’t count as one of them.
While Mazda wouldn’t confirm this to us via email this week, we know it has plans to build a plug-in hybrid. Mazda has told us this before and made it clear in the design of the EV that it was focused more on the PHEV than the EV.
There is a huge empty space under the hood that will eventually be filled with a rotary engine and even the “electric” badge on the car is just a sticker. On the window. Mazda clearly hasn’t gone out of its way to spend more engineering resources on this EV than absolutely necessary.
So it seems likely that the EV model, which was only made for one year (or a few overseas) and sold in California to meet zero-emission vehicle requirements, was just a temporary workaround for the “real” car, the PHEV.
Will the Mazda MX-30 PHEV be better?
We were disappointed with the BEV model, but here’s the interesting thing: the PHEV, the car Mazda seems to have been working on all along, could actually be quite good.
While Mazda hasn’t finalized details on the PHEV yet, we believe it will ship with the same or very similar battery as the EV.
If so, that means it will have roughly similar range to the EV, minus a little bit because of the added weight and complexity of the small rotary engine Mazda plans to use – so for range, a guess would probably be somewhere around 90 miles.
At that rate, it would put the MX-30 PHEV in the same category as the BMW i3, as a PHEV that really can be used as an EV in almost all situations. But instead of having a huge battery for rare road trips over 90 miles, it uses gasoline instead. (Another great thing the i3 did was offer the engine as an option, allowing people to see that PHEVs add complexity and cost, and make the car perform worse than if you just went all-electric.)
There are many low-range PHEVs with batteries so small that drivers often don’t bother charging them, and they’re only included for compliance reasons or to get tax credits or other benefits. If Mazda keeps a hefty battery in the MX-30 PHEV, it will be much more usable as a full EV in most situations than most PHEVs out there today.
Something similar happened with the Honda Clarity, a car with multiple powertrains (BEV, PHEV and FCEV). We declared the BEV version dead on arrival when details were announced, as it simply wasn’t competitive with the rest of the market at the time. But the PHEV version was actually quite reasonable in specs at the time, comparing favorably to the Chevy Volt, one of the few PHEVs at the time with a good enough balance of all-electric range that drivers would be bothered to pick it up. to load.
The new EV tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act does apply to PHEVs, so Mazda could theoretically still access it with a plug-in hybrid rather than a pure EV. But the tax credit does not apply to vehicles manufactured outside of North America. Mazda is currently building the MX-30 at their Hiroshima plant, which means it is not eligible. But one of its factories, in Salamanca, Mexico, does assemble the CX-30, the gas relative to the MX-30.
But another big problem with this plan is that PHEVs just are not that popular. Sales of all green vehicles are currently on the rise, but EVs have seen continuous growth since their introduction, while PHEVs have lagged behind EVs for the past decade and hybrids have essentially reached a plateau last year.
It’s possible that PHEVs will become more popular with the new tax cuts, but it feels like consumers are largely preferring all-electric over plug-in hybrids. Once you get a taste of electric driving, it is not pleasant to feel that engine start again.
But maybe that’s just because we don’t have many good long-range PHEVs. The latter, the i3, had a distinctive look that some people loved and others didn’t. And the Volt was a solid, serviceable car, but GM decided to go in a different direction, as did Honda with the Clarity. All three of these cars are no longer in production.
The Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 PHEVs both have a range of about 40 miles, which is about enough to run an all-electric car for average daily driving. But the Mazda could have twice the all-electric range of those cars, and the RAV 4 Prime has a base price of $40k — significantly more than the MX-30 EV’s $33k base (which will no doubt be higher when a engine will be added, but hopefully not $7k higher).
So there is a niche available for a PHEV with a long range and a good price. Mazda could fill that niche with the MX-30 PHEV, and it could even offer a good value proposition for those buyers who are still looking for a PHEV in this day and age.
It’s still disappointing for us to see Mazda seemingly abandon its BEV model, but if it manages to perform well on its plug-in hybrid, it could be a good addition to the electrified landscape.
(Also, as we have to add to every Mazda article: electrify the Miata already. Please!)
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