Can Mazda’s New Diesel Kill the Hybrid Hype?

2010 Mazda6

A company that still uses a rotary engine, technology first developed in the 1890s, has to think a little differently.

Yet Mazda not only makes it work in the RX-8, but the engine’s size and weight allow for the car to have a perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution while providing 232 horses, an incredible 9,000-rpm redline, and a 0-60 sprint in about 6 seconds. Of course there are drawbacks, like only 152 pound-feet of torque, but the car’s light weight and high revs counter that a little.

The point here, though, isn’t to rave about the RX-8; it’s to prove that Mazda isn’t like the other automakers.

And that’s good for American car buyers wanting to save money when buying a new car and at the fuel pump afterward.

In this week’s Green Update, our own jgoods mentioned that Mazda would introduce diesel engines in America. Not only is that true, but Mazda is out to prove a point that diesel-powered cars can be just as popular here as their hybrid competition.

The Detroit News reports this morning that Mazda plans to bring a diesel-powered midsize sedan (Mazda6?) to the United States in 2012 that will get 43 miles per gallon. That tops today’s midsize hybrids, and Mazda promises its car will cost far less.

The reason Mazda made the decision to bring diesel engines here is because Toyota and Honda decided not to. Mazda sees an opportunity, and it is striking.

I love that rebel thinking!

The Detroit News story quotes Consumer Reports test engineer Jake Fisher, who called this one of the most important announcements made at the New York Auto Show last week.

That was big news, because we need a small displacement, fuel-efficient diesel that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg,” he said. “Volkswagen has one, but every other manufacturer seems scared of diesels. I think it’s fabulous that Mazda has thrown its hat in the ring.

The time is right for diesel in America, and Mazda is about to prove that. I predict a major upswing in Mazda sales and a severe fall from the hybrid hype wagon that has consumed this country for too long.

Will the Mazda diesel sell in the United States? I’d buy one!

-tgriffith

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8 Comments

  1. I have been wondering why U.S. auto makers haven’t come up with a small displacement turbo-diesel for use here in the U.S. To me, it’s further proof of conspiracy thinkers who know that big oil, big auto, and big government have been in bed with one another for far too long. I recently left Europe where, for the last several years, I have driven a BMW 530 turbo diesel. This car was loaded and my average fuel usage was (in U.S. figures) 43 miles per gallon. Now I drove reasonably in town and only about 160 or 170 kph on the autobahn, but 43 MILES PER GALLON … GEEZ!!! Wake up America!

  2. We own two Mazda’s now. One is a Mazda 3 with highway EPA rating of 33 mpg, but the car actually gets 36 if you drive between 70-75. I didn’t even know Mazda had a diesel, so we’ve been looking at VW TDI’s, rated at 40-43 mpg because we plan on doing a lot of travelling by car.’

    I found out about the Mazda diesel by accident on the internet. Now we won’t look at any more VW’s until we test the Mazda6 with a diesel engine. Our Mazda’s have been terrific cars and they’re fun to drive. Plus, our local dealer goes out of his way to accomodate our auto needs. We couldn’t ask for more.

  3. Maybe the rumors that the American consumer is gullible are over rated.

    We read the hype about EV’s and Hybrids and review the blog response and while there are a few supportive people out there, typically, people are negative about EV’s and Hybrids.

    So now we review this article and the very positive comments and there you go! People get it! Hey, we have been driving advanced diesel for the past 4 years. Ah, but it gets better. Run B50 in these advanced diesel engines and the emissions drop by another 40% from those high emission, petroleum guzzlers like the Prius. The next generation of diesel engines will support B100 and then the emissions drop to 95% below that of gasoline engines for the same miles traveled (look it up).

    Think about it – going from 25mpg to 50mpg in a gasoline powered car is almost a waste of engine R&D. I have driven almost 7,000mppg (miles per petroleum gallon) in a Jetta TDI.

    Here is the good news – we and nearly 100 of our business partners are gearing up to grow 25B gallons/year of biodiesel. This is more petroleum than the US purchased from OPEC nations last year.

    etcgreen.com Are you driving your last gasoline powered car?

  4. Hearing that Mazda was bringing out a midsize diesel made me delay buying a new car. I was looking at a Jetta TDi but, I think that Mazda has better reliability than VW. I’m looking forward to test driving the diesel Mazda.

  5. jgoods I completely agree with you. Even though the Mazda diesel will get excellent MPG, I think a good part of the problem is that many Americans still associate diesel engines with big, loud, low-MPG, dark-exhaust-spewing tractor-trailers. This couldn’t be further from correct with modern diesel-sedans. And many modern trucks don’t put out nearly as much dark exhaust as old trucks do.

    I was on vacation in Italy with my family (5 people total) 2 years ago, and we rented a diesel-powered Fiat Croma (4-door hatchback, not sure what year) to get us where we had to go. To be honest, I would have bought that car if I could, it was a great car to drive in. Noise level was the same as a gas-powered car of the same size, exhaust didn’t smell all that bad, and it rode quite smoothly. And it got great mileage, even though it was weighed down with 5 people and all their luggage. We drove from our rented house near Rome to Naples and back and our house to Assisi and back, plus whatever smaller trips we had in between, and I don’t remember filling up more than 3 times over the course of the 2 weeks we spent there.

    I’d go for the Mazda diesel as my next car if I could afford it by then (college student = no $$ for new car). Right now I have a 2001 Buick Century that I got from my dad as my first car (of course he put 122K mi on it, it’s now up to 133K). I pretty much do just highway driving (65mi per day to and from college), and I tend to get around 22, 23MPG. Almost doubling that with the Mazda diesel would make it an easy choice for me (plus it would be a huge upgrade from the “grandpa car” I own now)

    As for infrastructure, I don’t see finding a diesel pump being too big of a problem, at least for me on Long Island. The BP station I regularly go to has 2 diesel pumps, as do several other stations that are relatively close to where I live and on the way to Stony Brook

  6. I probably will not buy a new car or truck until I can get a clean Diesel. I think Diesel-powered vehicles are superior drivers in every way, and if they can solve the noise, smell and particulate problem, they’ll be much more accepted in the US.

  7. I hope you’re right about diesels, but there are big obstacles still. It’s not just pumps and infrastructure, availability, but the public’s attitude toward diesels hasn’t changed even though the engines have improved greatly. Making that change happen will take more than a good car (as the VW TDI experience has shown). I wish Mazda luck, but they will have to embark on a serious marketing/public education effort to be successful.

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