So here's something interesting for Mazda fans from our sources in the region.
According to our insiders (who are able to peek at the manufacturing plans of automakers in Thailand) Mazda has something special in store for 2022. The Hiroshima-based automaker is planning to commence production of the all-new Mazda2 in Thailand in the second quarter (Q2) of 2022.
Mazda has not yet revealed the new generation Mazda2 that will succeed the fourth-generation model that has been in the market since 2014. There is a lot of speculation that it will be a product of Mazda's collaboration with Toyota, including a supposed rebadge of the Yaris for European markets. That, however, may not be the case for Southeast Asia or other markets outside of Europe.
There is another bit of information coming out of Thailand though: the all-new Mazda2 that will start production next year will have a hybrid along with an efficient small displacement engine. This was done to earn Mazda government incentives under two programs: Thai Eco Car and the Thai xEV.
The hybrid is interesting because it would mean that Mazda is likely leveraging the strength of its partnership with Toyota; the automaker with great success in engineering hybrid systems. Mazda did hint recently that they are looking at THS (Toyota Hybrid System) for their vehicles, up to and including an OEM-supplied version (AKA: rebadged, more or less).
If Mazda is getting the hybrid system, we can then expect a similar driving experience to Toyota's own hybrids; perhaps a system similar to the 1.5-liter hybrid found in the Toyota Aqua (AKA: Prius c) or possibly even a smaller one. Sharing hybrid powertrains will be the key to keeping the price affordable, along with the use of dated (but still effective) NiMH batteries instead of the pricier lithium-ion packs.
Needless to say, we'll be very interested in seeing what Mazda has in store for the next couple of years. Our main question is this: if they do produce the hybrid version in Q2 2022 in Thailand, will the left-hand drive model be on the assembly line right away?