Mazda Motor Managing Executive Officer Mitsuo Hitomi poses for a photo at the company’s proving ground in Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan on October 10, 2017. Picture: REUTERS/NAOMI TAJITSU
Mazda Motor Managing Executive Officer Mitsuo Hitomi poses for a photo at the company’s proving ground in Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan on October 10, 2017. Picture: REUTERS/NAOMI TAJITSU

Tokyo — Mazda Motor, running counter to the industry’s shift towards electric vehicles, says rapid improvements in conventional-engine technology mean nonpetrol cars will not be needed on a mass scale to solve pollution woes.

The car maker says electric cars may be more polluting than vehicles with internal combustion engines if the electric power is not from a clean source.

It estimates the level of carbon dioxide emitted by a petrol-engine Mazda2 at about 9% less than the 162g/km attributed to an electric version of the car whose power comes from a coal-fired plant.

"As long as conventional vehicles truly comply with regulations, electric cars won’t be needed to solve environmental issues," Mitsuo Hitomi, a managing executive officer who heads Mazda’s technical research centre, said in an interview in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Hitomi’s comments contrast with plans by the world’s biggest car makers including Volkswagen, Ford and BMW, to invest billions of dollars to electrify their lineups in the next decade.

While Mazda is co-developing battery cars with Toyota, it has largely focused on refining performance through its Skyactiv fuel-efficient technology. It intends to introduce the next-generation Skyactiv-X in 2019 with as much as 30% improvement in engine efficiency.

Fully replacing conventional cars with electric would require power output to double, Hitomi said, citing the car maker’s own estimates.

Costs would rise because the increase would be coming mainly from clean sources such as solar and wind, which are more expensive.

Electricity prices will also surge because drivers will typically be charging up at the same time of day, spiking peak demand, he said.

"Think about these negative consequences for consumers when you have more electric cars," Hitomi said. "I personally don’t think the age for electric vehicles will ever come."

Bloomberg

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