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The Mazda Miata could go hybrid, electric or both if government regulations force it to

The strict fuel economy and emissions regulations that are scheduled to come into effect across North America, Europe, and Asia in the coming years will undoubtedly make it harder for Mazda to build a sports car like the Miata. The Japanese car maker is ready, and has announced that, when the time comes, it hasn’t ruled out fitting the Miata with some form of electrification to ensure it remains compliant with the new norms.

“You have to keep up with the regulations and trends, otherwise you have to exit from the marketplace,” explained Nobuhiro Yamamoto, the engineer in charge of developing the Miata, in an interview with Australian website Motoring.

It is too early to tell if the Miata will be fitted with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain or with an all-electric drivetrain. At any rate, Mazda will only build an electrified Miata if it absolutely needs to, and the company has made it clear that the internal combustion engine can still be pushed further in terms of efficiency. Notably, engineers are currently working on a compression-ignition system for gasoline-burning engines, though whether it will find its way under the hood of the Miata is not known at this point.

Part of the reluctance to build a gasoline-electric Miata stems from the fact that Yamamoto thinks the current crop of hybrids and EVs are simply not fun enough to drive. Even Tesla’s hugely-powerful Model S pales in comparison to old-fashioned gasoline-burning sports cars, according to the engineer.

“For me, right now, I would say it’s not the feeling that I want to have. [There are] senses you want to have in a car, the Tesla one is not one that satisfies,” explained the engineer.

If it’s given the proverbial green light for production, the hybrid and/or electric Miata won’t be introduced until the turn of the decade at the very earliest. In the shorter term, Mazda has recently announced that it’s open to the idea of building a faster, more extreme version of the Miata powered by a turbocharged engine.