SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (KABC) -- It might seem like Mazda has gotten a late start to the electric vehicle trend, but its first model is officially hitting the market.
"It took us time to find the right elements and ingredients," said Kingsley Iduma with Mazda North America.
The new MX-30 is Mazda's way of getting into the EV segment in its own way, and as the saying goes, you've got to start somewhere.
The base price for the fully-electric car is $34,470 before any state or federal tax incentives are factored in. Once those are included, the actual cost to the buyer is well under $30,000.
The design is somewhat sleek, and it has a different kind of door arrangement.
Small rear-hinged doors allows for access to the back seat, reminiscent of Mazda's former RX-8 sports car.
Basically, the MX-30 is a compact crossover SUV in size.
As far as driving, this is the brand that used the slogan "zoom zoom" for years, so vehicle dynamics - in other words the "handling" of the vehicle - was part of the program.
"It's the tuning. We tuned the vehicle just right, so the customer gets that nice feel around the corners. That very natural, intuitive driving experience," noted Iduma.
There's also something unusual to ease the transition for some to electric power for drivers: artificial noise.
Digital sound, like that of an engine, pipes into the cabin via the speakers when you accelerate briskly.
As far as driving range of a full charge, the number is not impressive by today's electric car standards: 100 miles according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But Mazda's defending that figure, based on the intended buyer, who is likely more of a city dweller.
Initially, the MX-30 will only be sold in California.
"One of the things we looked at was the data shows that customers typically drive on their commute only about 30 miles a day," said Iduma.
That's almost the exact thought behind mini's first electric model, the Mini Cooper Electric SE.
Its range is just 110 miles, but sales of that urban-intended EV have been better than expected.
Mazda also has a plan to help people live with range that's less than half of other similarly-priced electrics. The MX-30 comes with $500 worth of public charging via the ChargePoint network, which can also be applied to the purchase of a home charging station.
If you need to travel somewhere far, the company will let you borrow a gasoline Mazda from the dealership or any other Mazda vehicle you see in the showroom for the first three years of MX-30 ownership.
Buyers get 10 days per year of the free loaner vehicles.
It's not the first EV to come along, and it certainly doesn't compete in some ways, but Mazda says just wait. This is merely the beginning of a transition to electric power.