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Mazda's first EV won't look like an appliance

by Ronan Glon

Sales will begin in 2020.

Mazda is busily developing its first series-produced electric car. We haven't seen it yet, and details remain few and far between, but some of the company's top executives recently shed insight into what form it will -- and won't -- take.

British magazine Autocar learned that the yet-unnamed model will arrive as a standalone car. It won't be simply an electric variant of an existing model. It's too early to tell how big it will be or whether it will arrive as a sedan, a crossover, or something else entirely. What's certain is that it won't look like an electric car.

"We don't want an EV to look like a fridge like some other car makers," explained Jo Stenuit, the firm's European design boss, in an interview with Autocar on the sidelines of this week's Los Angeles auto show. Ikuo Maeda, Mazda's head of design, echoed Stenuit's comments by pointing out he doesn't want his team to create an electric car that looks "digital." The designers' comments suggest the EV will look like a standard car that just happens to be electric.

Mazda will offer at least two variants of the yet-unnamed car. The first will be a pure, battery-powered model. The second will receive a rotary engine as a range extender. The company will also release a plug-in hybrid shortly after the electric car goes on sale, but it's unclear at this point whether the two models will be related in any way.

The first electric Mazda is tentatively scheduled to make its debut in 2020. Sales could begin during the 2021 model year.

Note: Mazda Vision Coupe concept pictured.