Let’s not demonise the combustion engine, says Mazda boss

Ted Welford, PA Motoring Reporter
·3-min read

The boss of Mazda has said they will not just focus on EVs in the future but will dedicate attention to a “range of different solutions” to suit a range of buyers, as well as providing longevity to the combustion engine.

An increasing number of manufacturers have been declaring they’ll be ‘electric only’ by a certain date – recent firms following this path include Volvo saying they will just sell EVs by 2030, and Ford saying it will adhere to the same timeframe.

However, Jeremy Thomson, managing director of Mazda UK, told the PA News Agency that they will not be following this path yet, with the firm saying that “EVs are not the only solution”.

He said: “We will not be 100 per cent EV as some manufacturers have said, we will have a range of different solutions that suit different applications. As has been the case with combustion engines for some time, there is the right sizing argument [buying the car that suits your needs] and the same is true of electrification. Electric cars are not the only solution.”

Mazda has been one of the early pioneers in eFuels, being the first car manufacturer to join an alliance exploring the use of these man-made fuels which promise to be carbon-neutral and aren’t reliant on any natural resources. Porsche has also recently said it would begin producing these synthetic fuels in 2022.

Thomson said: “When we talk about EVs, we’re thinking of future cars, and at some point those will replace all cars on the road. But with eFuels we’re talking about a solution that means we can continue using combustion engines, but not with fossil fuel, and not least because you can apply it to the 35 million combustion engines that exist on Britain’s roads today.

“I think it’s a fascinating idea. Let’s not demonise the combustion engine that seems trendy at the moment, what we should be doing is looking at the negative impact of carbon-based fuel.

“Combustion engines are not a broken concept, and indeed they will still be part of the automotive solution for years to come, and in hybridised cars until 2035 when these models might no longer be deemed sustainable. But 15 years is a long time, not least in automotive.”

Despite Mazda lagging behind other manufacturers when it comes to electrification – Thomson admitted himself that the firm tends to take a “more nuanced approach” – he said the Japanese carmaker would have one of the most diverse range of electrified models in the coming years. These will include a mixture of combustion models, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs – some of these being based on existing models, and others being new cars.

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The firm has also just launched its MX-30, its first EV. Though Mazda has faced some criticism for the electric crossover’s weak 124-mile range (many rivals have claimed ranges of 200 miles plus), Thomson said that the use of the smaller battery here uses “fundamentally less resources”.

He added: “With electric cars, we always talk about zero tailpipe emissions, but really there is a more important argument about what the true dust-to-dust impact of a car on the environment is, and the MX-30 will perform better than other EVs with bigger batteries. That’s the discussion that people need to have, and I think they will increasingly have.”