L.A. Auto Show: Mazda Maximizes Efficiency and Performance with Skyactiv

Mazda unveiled their all-new (literally, everything is new) CX5 for 2013 which incorporates their Skyactiv technology throughout. I asked Mazda’s CEO James O’Sullivan, about their plans for EV’s and if the new chassis for the CX5 could easily incorporate an EV. He refused to comment on Mazda’s plans for entering the EV market, except to say that at this point the infrastructure is not adequate. Like many people, he also holds the fallacious belief that EV’s are more expensive. However, when ownership and fuel costs are included, EV’s are can be much cheaper than ICE.

The Skyactiv’s The Limit

“The principal goal of Mazda’s engineers when developing its SKYACTIV technologies was to dramatically increase vehicle efficiency for all next-generation vehicles by improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions while, at the same time, further enhancing safety and driving fun. Internal combustion engines will still power more than 80 percent of vehicles in 2020. Today’s versions operate at only 30 percent efficiency, however, so there is much room for improvement.”

Certainly an excellent goal, but electric motors are already near 100% efficient. Yet Mazda isn’t ready to go down that path. The Skyactive engine will be available in both gasoline and diesel, and Mazda is making a huge effort to increase availability of diesel cars in the US. It will also be available in both automatic and standard transmission. The new transmission is 7% more efficient and this Crossover Utility Vehicle retains Mazda’s well known sporty pedigree.  O’Sullivan would not give me an official MPG, as he said they’re continuing testing and working with the EPA. However, there are rumors of 33mpg highway, and O’Sullivan clearly proclaimed the CX5 would have the best MPG of any CUV on the market in 2013.

I also spoke with Patrick Dempsey, who races an RX8 in the American LeMans Series, about our favorite track, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was interesting to learn that the braking and turn in points for cars and motorcycles are pretty much the same. What surprised me was to learn that it’s possible to pass a CAR in the corkscrew. Well, not at the apex like Valentino Rossi does, but Dempsey explained to me that if he’s able to enter the Corkscrew on the inside he can usually pass there.


Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.