According to Mazda, the 2026 MX-5 Miata will ditch internal combustion in favour of electric power. However, the carmaker chose not to specify whether electrification will be entirely electric, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid. The next-generation Miata must take this step in order for it to survive through 2030 when Mazda’s entire lineup is expected to be mostly electric.
The Mazda Miata has a long-standing, well-deserved reputation as a fun, inexpensive roadster with excellent driving dynamics, and an electric version would ensure its continued viability in the years to come. The Japanese automaker will probably release a hybrid or plug-in hybrid Miata before creating an all-electric model because Mazda is taking its time to develop EVs.
However, it’s more likely that Mazda’s sports vehicle, the Vision Study Model, which was unveiled at the end of last year, would only provide stylistic cues for the production Miata.
In addition to signing a contract with Envision AESC to develop batteries, Mazda said that it will collaborate with Rohm Co. to develop electric drivetrains. Although these agreements might have an impact on the following-generation Miata, a hybrid roadster makes more sense.
The Miata’s compact footprint may make it challenging to equip a battery with enough range, as the heavy battery pack would hinder performance and probably result in a significant price increase for pure EV technology. As with the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra, Mazda might also collaborate with another automaker to build the platform while sharing costs to keep the car affordable.
At the time, Mazda’s branding and R&D directors noted that the brand and model needed to transition to being more environmentally friendly, but that the MX-5’s primary goal is to stay lightweight, which is difficult given the weight of EV batteries.
The Miata is a remarkably light vehicle; the curb weight of the 2023 MX-5 model is approximately 1088kgs. The original Tesla Roadster, which made heavy use of pricey and lightweight carbon fibre, weighed 1270kgs, and the equivalent Caterham Project V prototype weighs 1179kgs.
So, while there is a challenge, it is not impossible to overcome, especially as EV batteries’ energy density continues to increase. A lighter, shorter-range Miata might be feasible with contemporary batteries.
Despite having two powertrains instead of one, hybrids and PHEVs are more complex than EVs. However, by reducing the weight of the battery, hybrids and PHEVs can still offer some of the advantages of electrification, such as partial zero-emission operation (in the case of a PHEV) and faster acceleration from electric motors.
The Miata’s famed fun factor has always been a little bit constrained by its little 2L 4-cylinder engine, so having an electric motor on board in any form will undoubtedly help.