CSR

[Feature Story]

Mazda’s First Mass-Production Electric Vehicle, Mazda MX-30

A human-centric car that offers creative time and space.

Under its long-term vision for technology development “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030,”
Mazda has strived to develop a car that will match the lifestyles and wishes of our customers while addressing issues facing people, the earth and society.
Through such endeavors, Mazda has created a new model with relaxing but challenging features.

商品本部 MAZDA MX-30主査 竹内 都美子

Tomiko TakeuchiMazda MX-30 Program Manager,Product Division

People

To embody the theme of “Living true to yourself”

The theme of the MX-30 is “Living true to yourself.” The development team first came up with it four years ago, in the course of a meeting with many customers around the world at the time of the preparatory stages of the MX-30's development.

What especially impressed us was that an unexpectedly large number of customers we met had no television in their living rooms. This may be because they were so busy that they would try making time to switch off their minds. We also heard some customers point out that the cabin of their car gave them a "special space and time to get back to being themselves." The development team concluded such needs would only be greater by the time they would release the car they were developing. That is why we decided to create a car that would offer time and space to fulfill our customers' wishes.

To materialize the now-established theme of “Living true to yourself,” the team first studied living rooms-where customers spend their downtime. The findings regarding the living room interior and furniture were helpful in designing the cabin interior of the car. Numerous ideas were incorporated into the form and materials of the seats, materials of door trims, as well as the height and shape of the console on which the shift lever and the touch panel are placed, to enhance comfort and ease of use.

Kodo design explores a new expression—Human Modern

In the present age, when AI*1 and IoT*2 technologies are finding increasing applications in our daily lives, there is a tendency to employ a simple “High-tech Modern” concept in designing products around us. Nevertheless, while meeting with customers, the team wanted to pursue a “Human Modern” design concept, which helps people discover their natural selves and provides human warmth. To this end, we explored an expressive dimension more in touch with new lifestyles. It was a new challenge involving human and time factors, in addition to a two-dimensional range of expression. The flat doors and the sophisticated lines flowing from the front end to the mirror are among the notable examples of designs realized by Mazda’s “less is more” ideal, and they represent advanced techniques based on elaborate calculation. I am confident that the MX-30 features defiantly new expression—which enabled us to further evolve the Kodo design.

The idea of adopting the freestyle doors for the MX-30 derived from the sense of openness embodied by the Mazda MX-5, my favorite car. We also aimed to create a relaxing space, seamlessly connecting the vehicle interior and outdoor, just like the external corridors running along the outer side of a traditional Japanese house. These doors are practical because by simply opening the front and rear doors, you can quickly place luggage on the rear row seats and quickly get into the car. We believe that making the flow path of such interactions as short as possible will help produce that sense of openness, which can lighten the burden of customers who are pressed for time.

  • *1 Artificial Intelligence
  • *2 The Internet of Things, which consists of smart devices that communicate with each other via the Internet. 

Kodo design explores a new expression—Human Modern

An Electric Vehicle that offers the same Jinba-ittai driving feel as our combustion engine-powered cars

While the MX-30 is our first mass-production electric vehicle (EV), first and foremost, we focused our efforts to pursue excellent driving performance that makes drivers feel more comfortable and relaxed.
I myself love to drive, and feel excited when I get into a car. However, this is not always the case. Sitting behind the wheel, when you feel exhausted after a busy day, may pull you down.

In such a case, the above-mentioned cabin interior provides an environment conducive to settling your mind. Once inside, the first thing to come in sight is the 7-inch touch panel, which displays graphics that change looks depending on the driver’s action, the time of day and the temperature outside. When you open the door and get into the car, the graphics will change as if the panel is welcoming the driver, to help keep you positive over time. In this way, the cabin was designed to help you feel focused and positive so that you can feel a greater joy of driving. Next, the development team intended to make effective use of the EV features to yet further evolve Mazda’s Jinba-ittai driving performance.

Driving an EV with a larger battery than that installed in mild hybrid models can be likened to running with a heavy weight. For this reason, when turning the steering wheel, EV drivers tend to feel like the vehicle body lags behind. However, a battery should not be a heavy obstacle to achieving enhanced driving performance with EVs. As a countermeasure, the battery case of the MX-30 is joined to the body to effectively help increase overall rigidity. Furthermore, the MX-30 is equipped with electric G-Vectoring Control Plus (e-GVC Plus), Mazda's unique vehicle motion control technology, which realizes smooth and comfortable vehicle motions in various driving situations, including low- or high-speed driving and going up or down a slope.
In addition to natural and comfortable motions, the MX-30 features an EV sound system that enables drivers to perceive the motor torque conditions, thereby assisting more accurate speed control.

Earth

Sustainable materials found anywhere in our daily lives

A customer showed me a cutting board made of a single wooden block handed down from her grandmother. The customer said, “Since this board is truly convenient, I can continue to use it for many years to come.” Her way of speaking was so natural that I could well understand that the customer enjoyed using goods carefully for a long time. Similarly, many other customers who live life simply, create comfortable spaces suited to their respective lifestyles. They are mindful of the environment and society, willingly selecting daily commodities made from natural materials.

By contrast, a vehicle is a product made of steel and plastic. Not allowing themselves to be constrained by conventional ideas, the team considered introducing sustainable materials sourced from nature. However, cars may be exposed to high temperatures, ultraviolet rays, and other damaging elements in harsh outdoor conditions. For this reason, materials that could be used for vehicles were limited. Nevertheless, from the stage of material development we held many discussions with suppliers and finally decided to adopt cork and fibers made from recycled plastic bottles as materials for the MX-30.

Regarding the cork in particular, the material's hygroscopic and vibration-damping properties makes it highly functional but also lightweight. Despite these advantages, cork lacks durability, which proved to be the greatest problem we had to address. Around that time, coincidentally, we came across a TV program that introduced techniques to enhance the durability of cork. Our team members obtained the information and then shared it with suppliers, which enabled us to achieve at a stroke quality that satisfied Mazda’s standards. Cork is made of the bark of cork oak trees and is a sustainable material. It is possible to continue to harvest the bark of trees that live for between 200 and 300 years while absorbing large amounts of CO2.

Furthermore, the MX-30 uses cork made of wood waste generated from the production of wine corks. Mazda was in fact founded as a cork manufacturer. For this reason, suppliers associated with our founder’s business participated in the development process. It was a surprising but happy encounter that us developers come across, at a time when the Company was going to mark its 100th anniversary.

Sustainable materials found anywhere in our daily lives

Battery capacity for the environment and customers’ daily routine

Production of car batteries requires a large amount of electricity. On top of this, as the battery capacity becomes greater, the sizes of the brake and tires also become larger, having greater impact on the environment. Mazda strives to contribute to CO2 reduction at all stages, from procurement of materials for batteries and other components, manufacturing and the disposal of vehicles. In the early stage of the development, the team identified the appropriate battery capacity on a life-cycle assessment basis and decided not to use a large-capacity battery for the MX-30.

The MX-30 is powered by a battery with a capacity of 35.5 kWh and travels approximately 200 km*1 on a single charge. We judge the capacity to be suitable for customers who choose the MX-30 for their daily commuting and going shopping in town. The development team also aimed to make the most of the convenience of EVs, which can be charged overnight by a household power supply. Therefore, for the greater benefit of customers, we decided that the MX-30 would not be equipped with an unnecessarily heavy battery, which would have made the car needlessly expensive. Consequently, I am confident that the MX-30 was able to strike a good balance between environmental friendliness and daily convenience.

  • *1 Measured in the European WLTP mode. The driving range of EVs vary depending on a variety of factors, including driving style, use of features, and driving environment.

Society

With greater passion for safety and people

In consideration to traffic safety, one of the social issues addressed by Mazda, we aim to contribute to society via our technological strengths. Which is why new advanced technologies are effectively incorporated into the MX-30.

New functionality was added to Smart Brake Support (SBS), with the intention to help prevent accidents where a car turning right collides with an oncoming car at an intersection (in the case of right-hand drive units). The MX-30 also introduces the Emergency Lane Keeping system, comprising two assist functions. One is Road Keep Assist, which helps keep the car on the right track on roads with grass, curbs or discernable edges, even in the absence of lane markings. The other is Blind Spot Assist, which helps prevent collisions when changing lanes by issuing an alarm to alert the driver to the presence of vehicles in the areas behind and to the side of the car and by providing steering assistance to return the car toward the center of the lane. All of these technologies adopted by the MX-30 have been developed based on the analysis of many potential accident-prone situations.

In addition to considering safety, we applied our inventiveness to the freestyle doors in response to diverse customer needs. For example, when Mazda adopted the freestyle doors on the RX-8 previously, wheelchair users were among customers who purchased the car. Based on this experience, the MX-30’s front doors were designed to have a greater degree of opening than that of other Mazda models, to enable wheelchair users to get behind the wheel in a priority parking place without the need to turn their wheelchair around.

With greater passion for safety and people

The MX-30 development project was launched four years ago. Many participants including not only planners but also designers and sales representatives joined the project from the planning stage, in which we conducted interviews with customers. As such, the project was characterized by particularly strong bonds between team members. While encouraging one another, project members were able to enhance their skills in their respective fields. It's from this teamwork that the MX-30 was born.

A car should be more than a mere means of transportation. We hope that vehicles can serve as a place that provides functionality and space always sought after by customers. This is also the source of my passion, which has driven me to create a car that will be loved by its owner, as if it were part of their family or their partner. I believe that through the development of the MX-30, we were able to embody Mazda’s challenger spirit. This challenge marked the first step toward the next 100 years for Mazda, which celebrated its centennial this year. I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm my determination to play an active role in promoting Mazda’s strategy of offering multiple solutions by continuously challenging myself.