Having just announced that they will be licensing hybrid technology from Toyota, it is clear that Mazda has never had any real desire to develop its own hybrid platform. But Mazda has always been good at engine development, and regardless of what our distant future looks like, nearly everyone agrees that the combustion engine will be with us for a long time… and there is still a lot of improvement to be made to them.
Enter Mazda stage left. At the New York Auto Show, Mazda unveiled two new engines and a transmission it claims will increase the fuel efficiency and lower the emissions of its cars dramatically by 2015. Not only that, Mazda says they will introduce a diesel engine to the US in 2012.
“Improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions is not just a goal at Mazda, it’s part of our business plan; we will make vehicles that are safer for our environment,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations. “We will increase our fuel economy globally by 30 percent by 2015 and offer affordable eco-friendly vehicles to all Mazda customers, not to just a limited segment of the market. The SKY Concept powertrains will play a big part in making this happen.”
According to Mazda, the SKY-G gasoline engine will increase fuel economy by 15% over their current gasoline engines while also increasing horsepower by the same amount. The SKY-D diesel engine promises to increase fuel economy by 30% over Mazda’s current 2.21 liter diesel (not sold in the US). When it launches the SKY-D in the US in 2012, Mazda says the vehicle that it will accompany will return at least 43 mpg. Add to the above engine choices the new SKY drive 6 speed automatic transmission, and Mazda says fuel economy will improve by another 5%.
Although there’re no real hybrid, plug-in or other alternative propulsion announcements from Mazda yet, you gotta hand it to them for pushing diesel and gas engine technology even further. We’ll need just as much innovation there as we do with electrics.