Electrifying an NB Mazda Miata Comes With Benefits and a Hefty Price Tag

The weight balance is still 50/50 with only 135 pounds added to the equation. Oh, and don’t forget the extra torque.

byMáté Petrány|
Electric Vehicles photo


As more firms come up with electric crate motor packages, as well as creative uses of salvaged Tesla motors which are then paired with aftermarket battery packs, no classic car is safe from potential electrification. The second-generation Mazda MX-5 may not be that old, yet it's cheap, light, perfectly balanced and full of tuning opportunities. British company Zero EV focuses mainly on Tesla-powered Porsche 911s, Nissan Zs, old Benzes and other higher-end classics, though it's now developed an offering for the darling roadster.

Using the smaller HyPer 9 electric motor with a 1.8:1 reduction gearbox, the team has built an NB Miata prototype, and it only weighs around 135 pounds more than the original. To develop this conversion system, Zero EV used a Mazda MX-5 Arizona, which was a U.K. special of 1,000 cars made in 2002 featuring a leather package with a Nardo steering wheel, heated seats, custom floor mats and a CD player. More importantly, these cars were still available with the 1.6-liter engine in Europe and Japan, finally rated at 125 horsepower instead of 108, with peak torque unchanged at 99 pound-feet.

With the 80-kilowatt HyPer 9 motor, reduction gearbox and 26-kilowatt-hour battery pack where the engine used to be, the Zero EV Miata weighs 2,358 pounds while retaining the donor car's perfect weight balance. Now, 107 electric horses come with much-increased torque at 169 pound-feet for a top speed of 82 miles per hour, and a zero-to-60 run in 8.5 seconds that should feel quicker using a single gear.

To keep this electric roadster as light on its feet as Mazda's new electric crossover tries to be, range had to be limited to around 100 miles, or 120 at the max, with a 6.6 kW charger replacing the fuel tank without compromising luggage space. Zero EV then added relevant gauges, vacuum-assist brakes and a three-way drive selector.

That's where it gets tricky. As The Late Brake Show's Jonny Smith explains, for the convenience of electric drive, more torque and a four-hour charging time, Zero EV would need to charge the local equivalent of $26,000. That's a whole lot of money for a Miata that can only go 100 miles. A strictly urban roadster, that is.

Video thumbnail

Got a tip on EV conversions, Miatas, both, or else? Send us a note: tips@thedrive.com

Car TechElectric VehiclesMazda NewsNews by Brand