Is Electric The Answer For The Mazda Miata?

Illustration for article titled Is Electric The Answer For The Mazda Miata?
Photo: Justin Westbrook, Graphic: Matt Brown

Mazda is considering an electric or hybrid powertrain for the next Miata, according to Autocar’s interview with Mazda R&D boss Ichiro Hirose. A low-cost electric roadster sounds like a blast, but I wonder if battery technology exists for a Miata to have both decent range and the lightweight dynamics that the Miata has always been known for.

“We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options,” said Hirose, “I don’t have the answer now but we need to make a vehicle that people can own without worrying that they are not being eco-friendly.”

A lot of people still cite range anxiety as the reason they don’t want to switch to an EV, so an EPA estimated range below 150 miles might make people hesitant to pick up an electric Miata. On the other hand, I can’t see Mazda adding a half-ton battery and still maintaining a low price. Also, all that weight could ruin the fun, nimble driving dynamics, even though the low-mounted batteries would drop the center of mass. Mini certainly had a hard time doing it.


I hybridized my roadster, an old Honda S600, and pretty quickly unhybridized it. I like electric vehicles, and they are better in a lot of objective and subjective ways, but a small, lightweight, inexpensive electric roadster with good range is going to be very difficult to pull off. I know, I’m a bad EV engineer, but I can’t help but wonder if Miata should combust for one more generation, and maybe wait for the batteries get a bit lighter before switching to electrons.

What do you think?

Matt Brown is an automotive engineer, writer, and builder of unconventional things. Mostly vehicles.

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Jalon P Niklaus

Give me an electric Miata with 150 to 200 mile range and optimized for handling and I’m in. A couple all electrics (Leaf, 500e) are surprisingly capable without even trying to be good driver’s cars.

Rear drive, perfect weight balance, low COG, no top, reduced interior (ditch the electric seats, electric windows, 10 speaker sound system, etc), high torque power, simple maintenance, etc would all add up to a perfect nice day commuter, autocrosser, and short tripper. Plenty of folks would eat this up. Buy it for the “economy”, thrash it for the smiles.