Mazda recently unveiled a diesel version of its CX-7 SUV at the Geneva Auto Show and the company has announced it is looking to expand its diesel offerings with new smaller engines aimed at hybrid competitors.
Mazda’s head of research and development has announced that the automaker will tread a different path than its Japanese counterparts, looking to a future in diesel cars rather than hybrid ones.
Engineers at the company are currently working on a 2.0-liter diesel engine that would be as fuel-efficient as a 660cc gasoline engine or a similarly powerful hybrid car. The added bonus is that it would be significantly cheaper to produce and that cost savings would be passed on to consumers – who currently pay a premium for hybrid models.
One major reason for the cost savings is a new single-nanotechnology catalyst Mazda is working on, which requires significantly less precious metals in its construction. Another cost-savings measure is a new diesel particulate filter that would eliminate the need for costly exhaust treatment systems.
“We believe that improving today’s conventional engines at a low cost is the most effective way to get fuel-efficient cars to proliferate,” R&D boss Seita Kanai told reporters.
Mazda intends to bring such a diesel engine to market by 2011, although it is not clear if the engine would be in a new model and if that model would be available worldwide.
In addition, Mazda plans to increase the fuel-economy of its fleet by 30 by 2015.
At the Geneva Auto Show earlier this month Mazda took the wraps off a turbo-diesel CX-7. Using a 2.2-liter powerplant, this new engine produces 171hp at 3500 rpm and 295 ft-lbs of torque at 2000 rpm. It also gets a combined fuel economy rating of 31.4 mpg.
Future Mazda plans to increase fuel-economy also include advancements in automatic transmission technology (like the company’s new Start/Stop system) and an overall reduction in vehicle weight.
Kanai said that models released in 2011 or after will weigh roughly 220 lbs less than current models, with a further similar reduction in weight happening in 2016.
GALLERY: Mazda CX-7 Diesel