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Report: Mazda Considering Diesels for U.S. Market

Japanese automaker says diesel cars already testing in North America

 |  Oct 23 2009, 1:44 PM

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Mazda is examining whether or not to bring diesel powered cars to North America. Seita Kanai, the company’s R&D boss, recently told Automotive News that diesel Mazdas are already being tested in the U.S.

With certain emissions regulations standing in the way, the biggest holdup that Mazda faces is if it can make a concrete business case for the cars. “As an engineer, ideally I would want to introduce diesels, but I am not sure if it makes a business case,” said Kanai, commenting that the company would need to sell as many as 10,000 units to reach profitability. With strict emission regulations on the way, however, loss-making diesels may be a clever way for the automaker to meet CAFE standards and avoid government penalties.

Roughly a year ago Mazda announced that instead of going the hybrid route it was going to look into diesels while improving the efficiency of its gasoline powered vehicles. This week the company displayed several of those new technologies and recently announced it would begin looking into hybrid technology.

One of the engines featured in Tokyo was a new 2.2-liter turbo diesel motor that is expected to deliver a 50 percent fuel-economy improvement over the current engine, which gets 31.4 mpg (average) in the CX-7 diesel (pictured above).

With Mazda’s hybrid program still in its infancy, diesels may be used in the interim. If Mazda were to start selling diesels in North America they would be the only Japanese automaker to do so. Currently Volkswagen (a long time proponent of diesels) is expanding its diesel offerings in North America with considerable success.

Even if the diesel plan does go ahead, it is not clear if Mazda intends to sell diesel versions of its SUVs or if it would follow in VW’s footsteps and offer fuel-miser versions of cars like the Mazda3 or the upcoming Mazda2.

[Source: Automotive News via LeftLaneNews]