Mazda electric car confirmed for Tokyo Motor Show

Long-rumoured Mazda electric car will be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show on 23 October

Mazda has announced that it'll reveal its first battery electric vehicle on 23 October at the Tokyo Motor Show.

No performance figures have been confirmed, although Mazda says this will be a completely new model, designed to make "full use of the benefits of electric drive technology".

Last year, the Japanese company said it had two electric vehicles in the pipeline: a ‘pure’ electric car and a range-extender equipped with a petrol rotary engine to charge the batteries on the move.

It’s not clear if these will be separate models or simply variants of the same car: the latter approach would be similar to that of the BMW i3, which was available as a range extender until the latter stages of 2018.

The Wankel rotary engine has something of a cult following, thanks to its radical approach to internal combustion. While most engines use pistons that move up and down, a rotary engine uses triangular-shaped pistons that rotate around a central shaft.

This produces a high power-to-weight ratio, and the compact nature of the engine makes it ideal for use in an electric vehicle, where packaging requirements can put space at a premium.

In 2017, Mazda’s head of European R&D, Matsuhiro Tanaka, told our sister title Auto Express that an electric car was "one of the possibilities we are examining".

He added: "A small car is best for an EV, because bigger vehicles get too heavy with bigger batteries, and that doesn’t make sense for Mazda."

Mazda’s first electric car looks set to adopt the design language used on the latest CX-5 SUV and the firm’s RX-Vision concept from 2015.

It’s expected to rival the Renault ZOE, which recently welcomed a new 52kWh battery, giving 245 miles of range.