Mazda is one of the last few major automakers without any serious electric car program. It is betting on its fuel-efficient SkyActiv technology to meet increasingly stricter standards, but the Japanese automaker is apparently now coming to the realization that it will likely not be enough and it will have to turn to electric cars.

During a roundtable at the LA Auto Show yesterday, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai reportedly confirmed that it will offer electric vehicles in 2019 to “accommodate the ZEV regulations in North America”.

The Wall Street Journal (Paywall) was present and reported:

“Mr. Kogai said Mazda would add original features to its electric cars to differentiate itself. He said engineers were looking at ways to keep the cars running longer when the battery was nearly dead.”

Kogai especially referenced California’s ZEV mandate as an incentive to produce EVs. While it sounds like Mazda is looking into making compliance cars, it’s better than nothing and it shows the ZEV mandates are working.

Over the last year, Mazda has been involved with Toyota in technology development programs and electric vehicles have been mentioned as a potential segment the two companies could team up on, but it has so far been unconfirmed.

As two of the last major automakers not producing all-electric vehicles, it would make sense for Mazda and Toyota to team up in order to accelerate their programs and catch up with those that are now at their second or third generation of EVs, like Tesla, Nissan, BMW or GM.

Earlier this month, Toyota announced that it aims to deliver several long-range electric cars by 2020.

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