By on September 13, 2013

2014-Mazda-Mazda6-Exterior-450x300

The diesel powered version of the Mazda6 will be delayed until April of 2014 in the United States, and if you believe Mazda, the delay is meant “to accommodate final emissions testing and certification.” But prior reporting by TTAC on the matter shows that this is far from the only hiccup faced by Mazda with its oil burners.

In a letter released to Automotive News, Robert Davis, Mazda USA’s Senior Vice-President of Operations, said

“I know we had discussed it being in showrooms before the end of the year, and everyone involved in the program is disappointed it will not be, but final certification testing — the results of which are looking encouraging — is taking longer than we had initially expected,”

As a salve to anxious dealers, Mazda will deliver extra allocations of Mazda6 sedans in Q1 2014, which are seeing a healthy bump in sales (though still doing 1/10th the volume of the Accord or Camry). While the official reason for the diesel’s delay stems from certification issues (which are a frequently cited reason for the lack of diesel options Stateside, as the Tier 2 BIN 5 regulations are difficult for diesels to comply with), it appears that Mazda’s 2.2L Skyactiv-D engine has had its share of problems in the nearly two years it’s been on sale.

Australian auto media outlets took Mazda to task for issues relating to diesel fuel entering the oil sump after being used to clean off contaminates in the diesel particulate filter. Mazda’s solution for Australian market models (chiefly the CX-5) was to have owners vigilantly monitor engine oil consumption (as often as every 600 miles), while offering a modified dipstick and oil changes every 1,200 miles as the only solution.

TTAC readers were quick to fill in the blanks when it came to explaining the particulate filter problem, but there’s been little word from Mazda beyond the Band-Aid fix. While we’ll never ever harangue a car manufacturer for doing the right thing and delaying production to work out the bugs, the Mazda6 diesel has been a long await product frequently touted by Mazda as a linchpin of their fuel economy strategy. It’s worth asking if there’s more to the story than the official message, which was conveniently leaked to Automotive News just days before the Mazda3 media drive. A firm “no comment” or sticking to the official version regarding emissions certification will likely ward enough any serious inquiries from journalists – and it may very well be the truth. But in light of the Skyactiv-D engine’s past issues, it’s worth asking if there’s any relation to the North American spec motor, and if Mazda is doing all it can to avoid a serious PR flap from potential diesel owners distraught over the motor’s atypical maintenance schedule.

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41 Comments on “Editorial: Are Mazda’s Diesel Delays Really About Certification?...”


  • avatar
    graham

    A ~16 week delayed launch (based on the original end-of-year estimate) doesn’t appear to be much to be concerned about at this point. Whether it’s emissions certifications or final development tweaks will hopefully be a moot point once it’s available. At least Mazda is giving a new date–usually when diesel model launches are pulled back the new launch date is “to be determined”. Hello Subaru?

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      +1: I wouldn’t read too much into it.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Dealers were originally expecting to get the diesels the fall (~Oct), not December, so that’s closer to a 7 mo delay.

      Also, I believe their original intent was to get the 6 to market in late 2012, but they missed the date and didn’t start deliveries until Feb/Mar 2013. After all, they shut down production of the prior 6 in summer of 2012, meaning they were merely burning inventory for ~8 months and why there is essentially no 2013 model.

    • 0 avatar
      dmdiesel

      Engineers know there is a problem. Oil dilution etc, they are not talking to the consumer about it. All car companies deny there are engineering problems unless people are dying and proof is present.
      Difficult engineering with aluminium block and head. Don’t know about 14 to one compression, obviously pushing limits of diesel design.
      Mercedes had problem with diesels from 1991-1997 3.5 liter engine. Connecting rods bending and engine flying apart after 100k miles. Never admitted to a problem, class action where brought against them but never settled.
      The difference between good company and bad is taking on responsibility of repairing problem. Honda and Toyota extend warranty and generally fix problem. Other companies like GM , Chrysler deny problem and look the other way. I don’t know how Mazda reacts. Probably should stay away from their diesel as not cost effective for most people. Gas car is cheaper and gets almost same mpg. Probably would have to drive over 400k miles to break even. Good luck to us all.

  • avatar
    IndianaDriver

    Oil changes every 1,200 miles and checking the dipstick every 600 miles. Wow!!! I think Mazda was in too big of a hurry to release this engine. I’m glad that other parts of the world are the guinea pigs first.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Isn’t that basically the Wankel Maintenance Program?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I would think after the issues caused by the Rensis Wankel that eventually resulted in Mazda replacing quite a few engines and adding a 100,000 mile warranty on the replacements and the later build models after making improvements – my guess is that Mazda would like to make the improvements BEFORE releasing the engine in North America. To which I say, good for them. It is better than the alternative which would be poisoning the market here.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Where memories of GM Diesels circa 1980 may still linger.

          Being a confessed Honda “fanboi,” I’d give their DTEC engines a glance–if they wouldn’t have “chickened-out” over the emissions nonsense here!

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I just don’t think Mazda can engineer “specialty” engines. Between the Renesis and DISI, “replaced engines” is probably the only stat they ever led Sloyota and Honda in for the past 10 years.

    Cue angry RX8 owners on their 3rd engine who say it’s the most reliable car they’ve ever owned. /sneer

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I’m going to preface my reply by admitting that the plural of anecdote is not evidence.

      Okay, disclaimer out of the way: my biggest problem with my RX-8 was me using the wrong gear oil in the tranny. And then the dealer subbing the tranny work out to a number of n-stage syphilitic monkeys. Engine was rock solid.

      That said, since my previous car was ’99 VW Passat 1.8T, even if the Renesis had been replaced, it still would have been more reliable than the VW.

      Fun unsubstantiated (unsubstantiatable?) fact: many of the second replacements that people got happened because the reman facility was putting out craptacular reman engine. So, first engine dies -> crappy reman goes in -> crappy reman dies -> less crappy reman goes in.

  • avatar
    RyleyinSTL

    Let’s hope they use the extra time to introduce an update for the infotainment system, which is the worst one I have ever used.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      Hey! It might be ridiculously slow, but at least it looks nice! Maybe I’m just biased from never having another DD with any sort of touchscreen, but I found workarounds so I don’t even notice it anymore. My phone turns on pandora when it connects to bluetooth and I have the phone set to read texts aloud if it’s plugged into a headphone jack or playing music over bluetooth. Beats the lauaghably slow interface that reads texts to you(after you have to push “download message” and wait an actual 3 or 4 minutes.)

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Reports are that the CX-5 & 6 are getting mid-cycle refreshes next year, and one of the updates will be the infotaiment system from the new 3.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Have there been any reports of issues with the Skyactive-D in Europe? I know the 2.2L is used in their UK models. Or is it just Australia?

    As for diesel being the linchpin of their fuel economy strategy, I am not so sure. Yes diesel will give great mpg but their current gasoline engines are class leading in the CX5 and Mazda 6 (even without i-Eloop).

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Its due to driving style most likely. Australians probably drive shorter trips, like us Americans. Short trips cause very rapid buildup of soot in the dpf, and if the engine doesn’t warm up completely you can’t do passive regenerations either. Its means lots of active regens for those engines aka lots of fuel dumped in on the exhaust stroke.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I understand your point about soot build up. But people in the UK also drive short journeys if my parents are anything to go by. You could make the argument people in the US generally drive longer and at a more constant speed due to a greater use of highways.

        It would be good to get some UK/European data to see if this is widespread. Bottom line is that Mazda is doing the right thing and having a short delay to a niche powertrain.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          You’d be surprised how many short trips will make. Sometimes i drive 5 minutes to get to a store. Since there are no sidewalks, and crappy public transportation.

          Commuters to work will get on the highway but most likely no other times unless on trips.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      This forum goes into Mazda’s skyactiv diesel problem with responses from Australia, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Norway and translations from Japan.

      http://www.mazdas247.com/forum/showthread.php?123817637-Engine-Oil-Rise

      I’ve said it before, buy a new diesel with DPF regeneration at your own peril, don’t care what make it is. My friend’s 2010 TDI went into some DPF error mode a couple months ago. VW fiddled with it, the light went out. Next weekend, the driver’s side front spring broke while he was tootling along on the highway, just missed holing the tire. And the Regen light came back on. Not related, of course.

      VW dealer accused him of driving on gravel roads, thus breaking the spring and wanted him to replace the passenger side spring as well. This on a car driven 450 highway miles each weekend. Yes, they had springs in stock, I wonder why. No warranty naturally.

      He was so annoyed he went to an independent VW mechanic, who, guess what, had the spring in stock too! After that, in a blind rage he confronted VW about the regen light issue. It’s not warranty, he’s not driving it properly, they say.

      He’s so upset (and annoyed with me in a way because I warned him about the DPF problem two years ago, and he dismissed my concern as too much internet reading!), that he intends to run the car with the warning light on until lease end in 9 months. I’ve advised him of the consequences – he doesn’t care, this is his fifth Golf/Jetta lease in a row, and he figures the dealer will buckle under when negotiating a new lease. Well, I hope so, but doubt it. We talk about everything but the damn car these days.

      So Mazda, aware of the litigious nature of the US, and not having a big enough field to store “lemon law” returns (nowhere else has such laws), is burning the midnight oil to try and figure out their diesel problems, and I don’t blame them. A flawed introduction would likely ruin the company.

      LJK Setright opined more than 30 years ago that the diesel was the work of the devil. Before turbodiesels, he said the diesel’s flat torque curve was just missing the peak a gas engine had. Turbodiesels have been better until the pollution limits were tightened, and then the intro of DPF is just a cheap and nasty way to meet emissions on new vehicles. Screw the longterm. Try saving fuel money when you get the bill for a new DPF!

      My friend represents a typical North American driver. His opinion is that the new diesels, if they cannot tolerate short hops as well as long, is that they are defective, period. Can’t say I disagree.

      • 0 avatar
        riddleyo

        “nowhere else has such laws”

        Have you ever heard of South Korea? Apparently not.

      • 0 avatar
        Bill Wade

        VW is actually telling a customer that he cannot drive on gravel roads?

        That dealer would have had to call the police to have them remove the crazy person that got every single person in the dealership, including current and potential customers, all upset if they’d told me that.

        I don’t remember ever seeing warning stickers that you cannot drive your car on gravel roads and would have demanded to see the warranty exclusion for doing so.

    • 0 avatar
      Davelee123

      The advice in the UK has been don’t buy a diesel if you do short journeys because of the dpf. Plus the injectors will need replacing at some point (120k miles?). Dual mass flywheels have also been a problem for us – but probably not for Americans with autos.

  • avatar
    Onus

    This problem of fuel dilution is nothing new to dpf equipped diesels.

    When you shoot fuel into the cylinder on the exhaust stroke this will happen. Most engines deal with it much better than others, probably due to differing ring choices. Even the engine oil for new diesels have a insane amount of TBN to deal with the extra fuel dilution. But, making oil at a noticeable level is very bad bad.

    The easy solution is add a injector in the exhaust. GM did this with the duramax it has a 9th injector. Plus you lower your fuel dilution dramatically, and cylinder wash down, etc. Oil change intervals can be raised dramatically and your engine is healthier, and sump capacity can be decreased.

    The duramax IIRC has the lowest sump capacity of all the big 3 trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Dumb question. If you don’t care about EPA rules or particulate emissions, can the particulate filter be removed from a modern diesel engine? Illegal, but just curious if the soot damages other parts of the emissions system if you don’t waste fuel burning it.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    What about Urea? (Not to be confused with eureka!.)

    Diesels that require urine…oops: urea…injections are just a turn-off. Not only is it one more thing to do, but it is also a significant expense. Does everyone realize urea freezes in Winter?

    Let’s all drive 10mph slower for MPG, instead. At least texting will be less dangerous that way.

    Mazda… come to your senses; Zoom-Zoom, not fill-fill!

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      How is urea a significant expense??? And every truck stop carries it now as all on-road heavy truck diesels have been using it for the past few years. You refill the container every 10-15K miles or so – probably less often than you fill your wiper fluid reservoir.

      Having owned passenger-car diesels from the 1980s and 1990s (my 1996 Passat TDI is still getting me close to 50mpg in my daily commute), I’m just not sure that the value equation pencils out for passenger-car diesels any longer. The added emission systems have increased cost, complexity and maintenance not to mention reducing fuel economy, while turbocharged, direct-injected gasoline engines have been rapidly catching up on the fuel economy and flat torque curve of the diesel. My $.02 anyways. I do feel the need to go drive a diesel Cruze (too bad about no manual gearbox, which is probably the reason I wouldn’t get one) however.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        A Jan. 2010 TTAC article put urea at $32/gallon at Mercedes dealers, which equated to $316.99 for 16,566 miles. Yikes! Even if it was half that cost at a non-Merc dealer, it’s scary.

        • 0 avatar
          SamTrooper

          Don’t believe everything you read, I drive a 2011 TDI Touareg, I’ve had it since new, I’ve only had to fill the Urea Tank 3 times over 70,000km and it cost 16 dollars each time. It’s much cheaper than what most believe. The Bottle says for Vw, BMW, Audi Diesel engines.

    • 0 avatar
      vertigo

      The Mazda diesels aren’t supposed to require urea, though this new development will probably change that.

  • avatar
    vertigo

    I’m all for the diesel, but please Mazda, give us a 6-cyl or high-output boosted 4.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    Worth noting is that the guy who seems to know what he’s talking about on that motoring.com.au thread says that the 6 uses a different method of injection into the diesel particulate filter, which is the CX-5′s problem.

    A software update is also mentioned in that article, which seems more significant than the new dipstick mentioned here.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Near as I can tell Mazda needs to figure out how to stop their cars from rusting in the northeast.

    I followed a two or three year old Mazda today that reminded me of a 1974 Ford, or the biodegradable B210.

    • 0 avatar
      IndianaDriver

      No kidding. I walked behind a Mazda 3 in a parking lot yesterday that looked to be about 4-5 years old. The paint was bubbling up around the Mazda trunk emblem with rust stains showing.

  • avatar
    neit_jnf

    Mazda could eliminate the fuel dilution problem by simply using a bypass oil filtration system with a heating element and evaporator to flash diluted fuel and moisture from the oil…

    like this: http://www.ops-1.com/products/eco-pur

    Or adding a fuel injector to the exhaust manifold and use that instead of injecting within the combustion chamber for DPF regen…

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i dont see a point to these diesels

    the Mazda 5 and CX5 are basically 3,500lb medium sized vehicles that do fine with the 2.5 litre n/a four

    if they were 4,400lb like the CX7/9 then thats different

  • avatar
    Jacob

    IMHO, something is wrong. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be a guinea pig even when it arrives. If Mazda wants to maintain its Zoom Zoom reputation, it should at least give us an engine that can live up to the aggressive exterior design of the new 3 and 6, not to mention keeping up with V6 Camcords and previous gen Mazda6.

    • 0 avatar

      Where Mazda can get more powerful engines? V6 was Ford’s Duratec tuned by Mazda and kind of obsolete at this age. Ecoboosts are solely Ford engines. 2.5L was the most powerful engine developed by Mazda and Ford uses it too. So they decided to perfect 2.5L and did miracles with it but still no match to Honda or Toyota. It sounds like a tractor after cold start and when pushed on freeway. You have to take Mazda6 as it is – the light midsize car with impressive chassis but not so perfect engine. Mazda6 feels kind of dated already but it is a small company and they can focus only on some areas like chassis or small engines but cannot compete with big guys. Forget about Mazda diesel.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Forget the diesel, I want to know why I can’t option start stop here in the US…for my commute it’s critical.

  • avatar

    From what I understand, the diesel only gets 3-4 mpg better than the Skyactiv gas engine, but commands a 10% bump in MSRP, not to mention 15-20% increase in fuel costs. Could it be the benefits of the diesel engine aren’t great enough in the American economy to warrant manufacture and marketing of the option?

  • avatar
    neit_jnf

    Some real life reports from the forums have the iEloop and idle-stop equipped Diesel Mazda6 achieving up to 60 mpg… How will that translate to the EPA test cycle is anyone’s guess.


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