Carol Prototype - The Mazda EV you probably didn't know existed
The purple thing you see here is the first electric prototype ever built by Mazda, around twenty-five years before the 2020 MX-30 came along. As we all know, timing is crucial and, well, the Carol EV was a little too early.
We keep being told electric cars are the future and this has somehow tricked us into assuming that EVs are a novelty but they actually aren't. The electric car has been around for over a century and nearly every manufacturer out there has, at some point, built concepts and prototypes way before EVs became popular.
Mazda had their first attempt in the early 1990s when French, Italian and German government officials began discussing a project called LEMs (light electric mobile) with carmakers in order to make electric cars. Christian Schultze, who was Director of Technology Research at Mazda Motor Europe back then, responded by getting in touch with the University of Darmastadt to help build an EV concept car. The original plan was to build an electric MX-5 but the idea was eventually discarded and Mazda, along with the University, set about working on a Carol, a tiny kei car* sold in Japan.
They replaced the small engine with an electric unit and fitted the batteries under the seats. The end result was a concept car capable of 36 hp and a top speed of 62 mph. Naturally, the modern electric MX-30 is a far cry from the Carol EV, both in terms of usability and style, but the Carol was a decent attempt and it even managed to win a few awards, including the Rally Monte Carlo for EVs.
*Kei car is the Japanese category for the smallest road legal passenger cars.