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Mazda to launch first pure EV next year, plug-in hybrids to follow

Mazda is finally joining the electrification race

It might be late to the electrification party, but Mazda is planning on making up for lost time, confirming plans to launch its first pure EV next year with a range of plug-in hybrids to follow. 

That's the word from Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto, who says the electrification of the range, as well as the introduction of its SkyActiv-X engine, will help the brand meet ever-stricter emissions regulations - though the Japanese company concedes it will likely miss 2020 targets.

"The Skyactiv-X engine we are launching this year emits less than 100g/km of CO2," Marumoto told Automotive News. "Second, the first Mazda battery-electric vehicle will hit the market next year. Finally, we will introduce plug-in hybrid models from 2021 or 2022.

"So we will eventually achieve the target, although we will have some difficulties in 2020."

The company is behind European targets for 2020 and beyond, as well as its own internal emissions goals. The problem, says Marumoto, is the popularity of the brand's SUV family, as well as the declining popularity of diesel. 

Both are problems potentially solved by the SkyActiv-X (which will spawn a family of similar engines over the next 10 years), as well as the introduction of electrified Mazdas.

"There are two reasons why our emissions are above 130g/km. First, our best-selling model is the CX-5 mid-size SUV. Second, the diesel mix of our smaller models, the Mazda2 and Mazda3, has been diminishing. That is why we are quite far from what we planned five years ago," Marumoto says.

"Moving to a 10-year horizon, many of our engines will be replaced by Skyactiv-X and by further new-generation powertrains."

Marumoto also ruled out co-developing engines with competitor brands, labelling Mazda's "uniqueness" as a key selling point, and one that would be diluted through engine partnerships.

It does appear that Mazda has delayed its electric vision, with the brand promising two EVs in Australia by 2020 as recently as last year. But this most recent word from the company's biggest boss suggests that number has been revised down to a single battery-electric vehicle.

Mazda in Australia has already confirmed the brand here was heading for a "rotary revival", telling media last year that the iconic engine tech would be used not for performance, but as a range extender for the brand's electrified vehicles - previewed in the the stunning RX-Vision concept revealed in 2015.

"We are set for a rotary revival of sorts, with a range extender under development, as well as a plan for electrification in the near future," said Mazda Australia's MD, Vinesh Bhindi.

Are you ready to go electric? Or are you still singing ICE, ICE baby? Tell us in the comments below.