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Mazda has become the first automotive manufacturer to join the eFuel Alliance, an organisation that brings together interested parties that support the goal of establishing and promoting CO2-neutral e-fuels and hydrogen as a credible and real contributor to reducing emissions in the transport sector.

This week on Mobility Moments, Auto Futures speaks to Wojciech Halarewicz, VP Communications and Public Affairs, about Mazda’s commitment to developing electric cars and powertrains to meet new needs of customers through a new ear of renewable and low-carbon.

So Wojciech, why did Mazda decide to join the eFuel Alliance? 

Mazda has always been a strong advocate of a multi-solution approach and, throughout our history, we have been committed to developing cars and powertrains that are meeting the needs of our customers and this passion remains. 

As you may be aware, from this year the EU will review and adjust the CO2 standards for cars and vans and other climate legislation in line with its climate targets. The next two years will be decisive for the future of the transport sector in Europe.

The fact that many legislations will be reviewed at the same time opens up an immense opportunity of aligning legislation across sectors. 

We believe that only if all involved sectors work together and share any good options, the best possible results can be achieved. And the Alliance is facilitating exactly this.

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Now a member of the alliance, what is the next step? 

The eFuel Alliance brings together organizations and interested parties that support the goal of establishing and promoting CO2-neutral e-fuels and hydrogen as a credible and real contributor to reducing emissions in the transport sector.

Together with our partners in the Alliance, we will use the review of the CO2 standards for cars and vans, and other legislation, to inform and educate policymakers about the many benefits that we believe can be achieved through vehicles running on renewable fuels, hand-in-hand with further electrification.

As a member of the Alliance, Mazda will actively contribute to the discussions from a car manufacturers’ perspective. 

Being the first automaker involved in the alliance, what does this represent? 

We recognize that as an industry we must reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible and to do this we must not ignore any of the available routes at our disposal. We believe that with the necessary investment, renewable fuels, and e-fuels in particular, will make a credible and real contribution to emissions reduction.

We are therefore very pleased to have joined the Alliance as a first OEM and we hope that with our long history in automotive engineering and innovation, we can be a strong partner in the eFuel Alliance.

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Do you see others in the sector following? 

We can see that there are good discussions happening across the industry and we would be delighted to see other OEMs following us and joining the Alliance. As an industry – together with suppliers that already joined this initiative such as  ZF Friedrichshafen, Mahle or ElringKlinger – we must send a strong message that all available solutions must be considered for effective and fast emissions reduction.

Do you believe there are alternatives to battery electric vehicles?

Mazda has always been committed to a multi-solution approach. Mobility is a valuable good and consumers should continue to choose from a variety of sustainable mobility solutions and pick the one that best fits their needs and preferences.

Electrification is a key pillar within our multi-solution approach. We launched our first fully electric vehicle, the Mazda MX-30, in 2020 and have already sold over 10,000 units despite only launching the product in September. And by 2030, all Mazda vehicles will be equipped with some form of electrification, including electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid solutions as well as range extender multi-electrification technology.

Whilst electrification is an effective solution for reducing emissions in urban areas and for smaller vehicles, we need additional solutions for other transport modes, especially for longer-distance travel and larger cars, and to reduce emissions from the existing fleet.

Combined with an efficient internal combustion engine, renewable fuels such as e-fuels derived from green hydrogen are important additions and we must make sure that we create a level-playing field that always us to choose from a variety of clean options the one that best fits our individual mobility needs. 

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Is there still a place for the internal combustion engine?

We must understand that it is not the combustion engine that is causing the emissions of a car, but the fuel that is used to power it. If a car with an internal combustion engine is fueled with a CO2-neutral e-fuel, the car releases only as much CO2 as was previously captured for the production of the fuel.

Whilst electrification is an effective solution for reducing emissions in urban areas and for smaller vehicles, renewable fuels provide benefits for many transport modes, especially for longer-distance travel and larger cars.

Being a strong advocate of a multi-solution approach, we are still committed to developing cars and powertrains that are meeting the needs of our customers. These already include improvements in the efficiency of conventional powertrains, the electrification of the range, the wider uptake of renewable fuels as well as digital and connected tools that improve fuel efficiency.

Working towards the ideal of achieving the optimal combustion process, we will continue to improve our engines to optimize fuel efficiency, which is a key purchase criteria for consumers. We also want to make sure that when e-fuels become more widely available we have the technology ready to maximize their use. The more efficient the engine works, the less fuel will have to be synthesized, saving both energy and costs for both manufacturers and consumers.

Looking towards 2030, how do you see the automotive industry changing? 

Around the globe, country leaders are defining their responses to address climate change. How they respond will shape the transition of the automotive industry towards carbon neutrality in the long run – of course in addition to customer demands.

As I explained before, we think these targets will only be achieved if all available technologies are being investigated and used.

Carbon-neutral fuels are already a reality and can be used in vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine. How soon these fuels will be ready for mass deployment will depend on multiple factors, including the regulatory environment.

As a result, whilst we see the share of electric or electrified vehicles increasing, as it is in our own range, we hope this will be complemented by a significant number of existing and future cars running on carbon-neutral clean fuels.

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And what about from a consumer perspective?

One of the key advantages of renewable fuels, when compared to full electrification, is the positive impact on the CO2 emissions of the current car fleet. Renewable fuels can significantly improve the performance of these vehicles, effectively accelerating the decarbonization of transport. If a car with an internal combustion engine is fueled with a CO2-neutral e-fuel, the car releases only as much CO2 as was previously captured for the production of the fuel, making a phase out of combustion engines unnecessary.  

From a customer perspective, this is a key benefit as it will help to maintain the resale value of new and existing vehicles. This will help consumers to find also in future their best fit solution for clean-mobility. Future e-fuels will be fully compatible and can be blended with existing fuels. This will greatly promote the gradual introduction into the market without any hurdles. They also share the same infrastructure and therefore can make use of a dense network of fuel stations. So there is no need for customers to change their personal preference for mobility or change their mobility usage pattern.

What can we expect to see from Mazda in the coming years, from zero-emission vehicles to new environmentally-focused partnerships?

Mazda has a robust product cycle plan, including pure electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid solutions as well as range extender multi-electrification technology. In parallel we will continue to research and promote renewable fuels and we see that this combination of all available technologies as the best way to forward to reduce CO2 emissions effectively. 

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