Regular readers know that I've called 2022 a tipping point year for electric vehicles. There's a rush of competitors flooding a field that Tesla has had largely to itself. Those cars (Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona Electric, Nissan Leaf Plus, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate, the Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 and the astonishing Hyundai IONIQ 5 ) all deliver between 215 and 300-plus miles of range per charge. Meantime, charging times continue to drop with DC fast charging. Getting to an 80% charge from 10% is something that most of the cars above can accomplish in 45 minutes or so.
The IONIQ 5 and its cousin, the Kia EV6, have 800-volt charging systems. I charged one from 9% to 80% in 21 minutes, and I'm not alone (some journalists have done the same in 19 minutes).
Moments like this, assuming you're not a Luddite, are very exciting. Anticipation of the next great advance, or at least of new competitors keeping the drumbeat going. And that's what makes the 2022 Mazda MX-30 so disappointing. Mazda's an innovative brand. This is their first electric. Should be great, right?
Sadly, no. The 2022 Mazda MX-30's electric motor manages a mere 143 horsepower (rear wheel drive IONIQ 5s are at 225 and the AWD versions put out 320), and range is 100 miles. Putting it in perspective---that's about what Nissan Leafs delivered per charge ten years ago. It's why EVs have taken so long to take off. In fairness, this is a car that Mazda's been selling in the UK for a couple of years now, where distances are shorter and London has congestion charges that are waived for EVs. It works there. Here? Well, there are people for whom 100 miles on a charge might be enough. If that's all the miles that are put on the car in a day, you can charge at home. If it takes a week or more to drive those miles around town, you could charge during a weekly shopping trip at a public charger. After all, the MX-30's range is low because its battery is small, so you should be able to charge it quickly, right? Not really. Mazda itself says a charge from 10% to 80% will take an hour on a DC fast charger. At a time when most EVs with much bigger batteries and much more range can do it in 45 minutes. When Kia and Hyundai have cars that can do it in 20.
I charged the MX-30 twice in the week I had it. The first time was on an Electrify America 150kw charger while I was at a doctor visit. 59% to 100% took 50 minutes. That seemed long if Mazda's saying 10% to 80% in 60 minutes. I mentioned it on Twitter, and several good points were made: One, EV manufacturers don't recommend you charge to 100% very often. Charging to 80% is better for long-term battery health. Again, I was in a doctor's office and when I came out, it had charged to 100. Two, and this is also true, to protect the battery, manufacturers program the on-board charging system to throttle back the charging speed from 80% onward. So that last 20% takes time---sometimes the same amount of time it takes to charge from 10% to 80%---doubling your charging session. So, I went to charge it again---to replicate the same scenario...starting at 59%, but this time, ending the session at 80% and seeing how long it took. Wanting apples-to-apples, I went to an Electrify America DC fast charging station six miles from home. And at every single charger there, I got this message when I tried to charge:
So it was back toward the house, where there's a 125 kw ChargePoint DC fast charger. Now the battery is at 52%, but close enough.
No connection issues this time---but this 125kw charger peaked at 18. Not a typo---18.
At that power delivery, the MX-30 was adding one percent per minute of charging. The display above was after 15 minutes. Getting to 80% from 52% took 28 minutes. And the car said that if we charged to 100%, it'd be another 52 minutes on top of that.
There wasn't time to do a third charge while I had the car. Clearly the car charges slowly, and a DC Fast charger running slow just makes it worse.
Because of the name, the MX-30 seems likely to get confused with the gasoline-powered CX-30 I reviewed in April. The two actually have very little in common, with a much more cramped rear seat in the electric as well as less-premium materials.
The base price of the 2022 Mazda MX-30 with the Premium Plus Package is $36,480. There's a lot that comes standard at that price---18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, a leather shift knob and steering wheel, power driver's seat, a full suite of active safety features, a heated steering wheel and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system.
In fact, the only extra-cost option on our test vehicle was the three-tone "ceramic" paint at $890. So, with $1,170 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2022 Mazda MX-30 is $38,550. And Mazda, being new to the EV game, has incentives available, which could knock that price down closer to $30,000.
Still, the MX-30 is hard to recommend because it does nothing to advance the state of the EV. It reinforces the stereotypes of limits and inconvenience that have held EV adoption back. True, a lot of that was at a time when the tech wasn't there to build a (relatively) inexpensive EV that could go farther and charge quicker. But that time has passed.