Mazda exec reiterates lack of interest in EVs

MY16 Mazda CX-9

Mazda is one of the few major automakers that currently makes no plug-in vehicles, although it has indicated that it would offer an EV in 2019 to meet ZEV regulations. A Mazda exec defended the company’s status-quo strategy at a recent Michigan trade group convention, saying that the “impending death of the internal combustion engine is overrated.”

“Take the $7,500 EV credit off the table,” suggested Robert Davis, Senior VP in charge of Special Assignments for North America. “At the same time, you take the EV mandate off the table. Let the government keep the $7,500 and let the industry find the best way to meet the clean air standard. Make it CO2, make it grams per mile, fuel economy – whatever feels best, but don’t mandate the particular powertrain.”

Davis went on to list his objections to EVs, some of which rested on dubious factual ground. As Electrek put it, “his comments read like a summary of Koch misinformation campaign talking points.”

His assertion that the auto industry could find the best way to meet clean air standards on its own rings hollow in light of the industry’s continued efforts to have those standards watered down, both in the US and in China.

Davis claimed that EV batteries cannot be easily recycled. Electrek points out that lead-acid batteries, which are extremely dangerous if not disposed of properly, are currently recycled at a rate of over 99%. Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, are generally not considered hazardous waste, and most of the elements within are considered safe for incinerators and landfills.  Furthermore, programs to recycle them are already being developed by Nissan, Tesla and other EV-makers.

Speaking of recycling, Davis also trotted out the tired old “long tailpipe” argument (“We need to consider that this is not zero emissions. This is remote emissions, or displaced emissions.”), which has been discredited by study after study after study after study.

Since Davis made his comments, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Toyota and Mazda were planning a capital partnership deal that would “possibly” include “joint development of key electric vehicle technologies.” According to Nikkei, Mazda plans to launch an unspecified electrified vehicle in 2019. No other details were provided.

The Toyota/Mazda deal may also include a joint venture to build a new plant in the American South that would produce up to 300,000 (gas-powered) SUVs per year. Whatever the companies’ EV plans may be, it’s plain that they don’t see their main profit center changing any time soon.

“The internal combustion engine has a strong future role in transportation,” Davis said.

We’ll see.


Sources: Nikkei Asian ReviewAutomotive NewsElectrek

  • SeaDoc

    Horse and Buggy mindset… Live in the past – fear the future – the mantra of Trump and the Koch brothers, et al… I’ll move forward with my Tesla any day…

  • SKPnSF

    Davis can say it all he wants, but he knows the writing is on the wall. ICE is going away and Mazda is way behind. so, he’ll keep on with his talking points to try to keep Mazda relevant. Hey Davis, let’s get rid of the tax breaks and subsidies for Mazda and the oil companies and see how overrated the death of the ICE is….

  • Lance Pickup

    “Make it CO2, make it grams per mile, fuel economy – whatever feels best, but don’t mandate the particular powertrain.”

    Okay…zero g CO2 per mile & 100+ MPGe.

    Your move Davis.

  • stuart21

    R.I.P., Mazda; I knew you well.

  • Bob Aceti

    The history of technology over the past 50 years tells a story. Many big iron computer hardware company spokesmen considered the small computers by HP and Apple to be ‘cute’ hobby electronics. Then IBM started building its PC in 1980. In the mid-1990s when geeky Internet emails showed-up on vey few business cards, most found the technology to be mostly demnded by academics and engineering – and not ready for prime time. Then Netscape came out with its server and browser. By 1990 – five years later, a majority of information technology industries had a home page and emails published online; and businesses like AOL, Amazon and Google were infants passing through the ‘Valley of Death’. Today, very few people would argue that the Internet doesn’t provide private and public value. And like any other ubiquitious technology, there is good and bad. If we consider that the most accidental deaths in the USA annually are from auto accidents (excluding those who survived and require LT care), why do we still drive cars, trucks, etc.? The answer is the benfits out-weigh the costs.

    And while we are on the topic of ICE cars v. EVs, we need to remind the automobile executives that electric vehicle predate the ICE vehicle and it it were not for the micro-electronic devices incorporated in the ‘computeron wheels’ we call cars, the GHG emissions and miles/gallon of gas/diesel would be much more expense as would maintenance costs – remember when automobiles needed to have a tune-up every 2- 3 years (based on mileage)?

    Finally, if we look at the broader scope of vehcile technology history the current ICE car is a baseline “hybrid-electric” that incorporates micro-electronics (PC’s on a chip) and stop-start batteries to squeeze-out more miles to the gallon of gasoline.

    The end-game will be ~2030 for ICE vehicles. The inconvenient truth is that electric engines are more efficient and require less maintenance and cost less insurance to operate than ICE vehicles. Mazda is playing chicken with competing technologies. Toyota, possibly the smartest automaker, told us that the future belongs to hydrogen-cell powered vehicles. Bill Gates ignored the Internet as a ‘fad’ until MS jumped into the market in the late 1990s to play catch-up.

    The reality is that even the smartest tools in the shed need sharpening. Both Toyoto’s hydrogen cell power vehicles and MS’s mistaken belief that the Internet was a passing fad were proven to be wrong. (Toyota has side-lined its hydrogen projects by reducing investment in R&D.)

    EV subsidies? Did Robert Davis, Mazda Senior VP in charge of Special Assignments for North America, ever hear of Oil Industry subsidies?

    Mr. Davis, you had an opportunity to consider the history of automotive technology and failed to recognize that innovation trumps the status quo whenever the status quo presents increasing environmental costs, not because of technology per se, but due to an expanding population of car buyers that will generate additional GHG/CO2 emissions if efficiency capped ICE drive trains remain the largest sector of personal transportation vehicles.

    And that is the most important reason to reduce fossil fuels and switch to clean-electricy and vehciles that operate battery-electric drive trains: Global Warming will force the hand of governments – including the post-Trump USA, to vigorously tax vehciles based on GHG emissions.

    • Bob Fearn

      The big car manufacturers are basically greedy and not prepared to dump their IC products to help save the planet. This is how crapitalism works but it won’t work when people finally wake up the the inevitble climate change disaster.

      • Bob Aceti

        It only matters whether the buying public can afford EV v. ICE and the reletive subsidy in play. Since automakers have already delievred EVs and anticipate more (Volvo will have no ICE car production by 2020); it becomes a political decision that smart automakers will anticipate. What I am saying here is that automakers will need to eventually produce more subsidized EVs and ramp-up their dealers to sell EVs or lose their coveted dealership franchises: the Tesla Internet Sales model looks better every year – few car stores with backend servcies; sell software to auto-electric & mechanic shops to diagnose EV issues – there is more revenue in cutting out the middleman and forcing third party servcie providers – back-end servcie shops – to buy the authorized dianostic computers/software to service EVs. At this time, third party software providers license automaker diagnostics and repackage the content in service-specific computers – by automaker – that autoservice garage mechanics are trained to use to diagnose vehcile service problems – from drive-trains to electric door locks, etc. Today’s auto mechanic needs to be computer savy as the self-driving vehciles will require sveral systems diagnostics not seen before in the field – radar assisted safe automated driving.

  • Rob Cotter

    How embarrassing.