By on March 24, 2016


“Hybrids? Those things that can’t make up their mind on what they want to be in life? Come on!” – Mazda.

That, Volkswagen floors the accelerator past a deadline, March looks like a boffo month for vehicle sales, Audi dials it back a bit, and getting a Tesla Model 3 depends on whether or not you’re in the club … after the break!


The future is a gas, gas, gas for Mazda

Mazda wants everyone to know that it’s sticking with its first love.

The automaker plans to continue to say “no thanks” to hybrid and EV technology in favor of boosting fuel efficiency from its gasoline powerplants, AutoExpress reports:

Combined with more light-weight technologies in its cars, it will see improvements in fuel economy figures of between 20 and 30% according to Mazda Europe boss, Jeff Guyton.

“I think there’s at least 20-30% better fuel economy by the end of the decade,” said Guyton. “We expect to achieve the [EU’s] 95g/km target without any significant deployment of electrical drive.”

A Mazda3 sold in Japan uses a Prius-sourced hybrid system, but going with an in-house system on its global fleet would mean finding cash it doesn’t have. As such, the maligned hydrocarbon-based fuel continues to find a champion in Mazda.

Volkswagen TDI

The fix is not in at Volkswagen

Dropping a gear and mashing the accelerator, Volkswagen is rocketing past a diesel emissions fix deadline set last month by a U.S. District Court judge.

The automaker isn’t expected to have anything new to offer U.S. regulators at today’s federal court hearing, according to Reuters:

Volkswagen and regulators are likely to tell [U.S. District Judge Charles] Breyer they are making good progress toward reaching a deal, but have not reached an agreement, the sources said, adding that a potential deal could still be weeks away.

VW has been in talks with regulators about how to address the issue, including a potential buyback offer for an unknown number of vehicles along with possible financial incentives for owners to get their vehicles repaired.

Volkswagen, which is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for up to $46 billion, risks further fines with the slow roll-out of its fix. Recently, California’s air regulator said the automaker might be allowed to only partially fix their oldest affected models.

Insane People at the Stock Photo Dealership

C-R-A-Z-Y sales month predicted

Rumors of the decline in interest in new cars might be exaggerated, if projected March sales numbers are to be believed.

After two so-so months following last December’s scorching hot buyfest, March is shaping up to set a sales record, according to Ward’s Auto. The projected 1.7 million light vehicle sales would not only be a March high water mark, it would also be the industry’s best month since July, 2005:

The forecasted daily sales rate of 61,727 over 27 days is a best-ever March result. This DSR represents a 0.2% improvement from like-2015 (25 days), while total volume for the month would be 8.2% greater than year-ago.

Honda is projected to see the biggest year-over-year sales increase this month, nearing a 10 percent improvement, followed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. General Motors and Hyundai/Kia will see the largest sales slip.

2016 Audi S7

Audi gets ahead of itself

Audi is pulling back on the reigns of its U.S. sales goals for 2016, admitting that it might have been a tad too optimistic in its predictions.

The luxury automaker is scaling back its goal from 220,000 units to 210,000 in order to adjust to the evolving market, Automotive News reports:

“They want to match demand and supply and they want us to have ‘one too few’ so we create an environment that helps the dealers get back to the profitability levels that they’ve had in the past,” [Audi U.S. dealer council chairman Ralph] Mauro said.

The problem facing Audi and other high-end automakers is a general slowdown in the luxury car market. Consumers are still buying, but not at the heady growth rate seen in past years.

Tesla Model 3 Teaser, Image: Tesla Motors

Want a Tesla Model 3? By another Tesla first

When Tesla founder Elon Musk unveils the electric automaker’s much-anticipated Model 3 (and opens pre-orders) on March 31, first-time Tesla buyers had better make the memory last.

That’s because orders from existing Tesla owners will be pushed to the front of the line, while the nerdlingers who can afford the lower-priced EV but aren’t yet living the Tesla lifestyle will have to wait, Business Insider reports:

If Model 3 development remains on schedule, production won’t begin until late 2017. Deliveries will begin sometime after that, but priority customers will get theirs first.

Who’s a priority customer? People who already own a Tesla. “As a thank you to our current owners, existing customers will get priority in each region” for the Model 3, Tesla says.

“For those who aren’t Tesla owners yet, this means the fastest way to buy a Model 3 is to buy a Model S or Model X.”

Or, to put it another way, the only way to get your hands on that Chevrolet Equinox is to purchase a Cadillac Escalade first.

The Model 3 is meant to be Tesla’s “EV for the masses” — half as pricey as its Model S, but coming on the scene a year after the similarly priced Chevrolet Bolt EV. Don’t be surprised to see General Motors exploit that delivery gap.

[Image: Tesla Model 3, Tesla Motors; Audi, © 2015 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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64 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Mazda Doesn’t Need No Stinkin’ Hybrids, Volkswagen Rebuffs Deadline, and March Looks Like a Winner...”

  • avatar

    Be sure to tune into the Bigtruckseriesreview Truth About Cars Show tomorrow for live coverage of the NYIAS…

  • avatar

    So in 10-20 years Mazda will be the Vroom Vroom brand, with its loud, death cloud producing 4 cylinder engines roaming the streets like savages among the silent, disapproving electric cars.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Mazda is pretty much the new Volkswagen in terms of offering cars that prioritize premium quality and driving feel more than competitors. If that Mazda3 were just a tad bigger…

    • 0 avatar

      I applaud Mazda for their “no ev/hybrid” stance! However, that also means they can’t build powerful/larger cars. They’ll either be small and slow and efficient, or small and zippy and less efficient. That’s as far as they can go.

      • 0 avatar

        Good insight. They will definitely need some kind of advanced tech to offset anything really powerful, which IMO they need for their CUVs. I can deal with a wheezy naturally aspirated 4 in a stickshift compact car, but a CUV absolutely needs more.

        • 0 avatar

          Rumors are that SkyActiv II will be out before 2020, using HCCI to boost efficiency another 30%. After that, the plan is to move to an adiabatic engine.

          If they get those technologies to work, they will have no problem with CAFE. I don’t know if it satisfies CARB’s zero emission requirements.

      • 0 avatar

        Only if you accept the cockamamie legal environment imposed on the market like a leaden weight.

        That’s true of VW as well. Insane demands by unelected bureaucrats mostly completely ignorant of physics or even science; and then the duplicitious company which has been ripping off American customer/victims for 35 years…this morality-free company decides they’re too cool for school.

        This always happens when corrupt government meets equally-corrupt business. Now, VW lost – because they only had the money; government has the inspectors with guns. Mazda, too, will probably lose, because they cannot play it any other way.

        As the regulations to remain in this business become more and more onerous, bigger and bigger not-the-largest players, get forced out. Take, for example…Kaiser Jeep. 1968 and the first round of regulations, and Kaiser wanted out. Sold to AMC. Second round, AMC needed a big-brother. Renault; then Chrysler.

        Round 3; and Chrysler wasn’t big enough. And Daimler sensed, correctly or not, it would be pulled down – they bailed; and probably avoided a bankruptcy along with their former cash-cow, too.

        Now, the current era, which is demanding fantasy fuel mileage. FORD isn’t probably big enough to keep this up. GM is only solvent on their cooked books. FCA is in ITS death throes.

        Is it any wonder VW chose to cheat?

    • 0 avatar

      Mazda needs to figure out how to quell road noise to bolster the ‘premium quality’ experience on the road. My daily driver is my 8-years-old Mazda3 GT, which has been an outstanding car (I call it my GLC) but it gets pretty loud inside at speed, even with fairly quiet new tires. I’d happily replace it with a new 3 hatch tomorrow if it had just a modicum of sound deadening. Heck, make it an option package on the GT trim. I don’t care if it adds 50 lbs. I just don’t want to tear into a brand-new car to do something that should have been done in the factory.

      Now that a loaded Mazda3 sGT has an MSRP of $32k, it needs to sound the part.

      • 0 avatar

        I keep hearing complaints of road noise in the Mazda3 but just as many reviews don’t really mention it. Also when it is measured in db it comes out on par with other cars in the class. I guess I just need to try it out myself but it seems to be relative to what you are used to I guess.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Trying it out yourself is definitely the best measure. The last generation was indisputably loud. I found the current one significantly better, but it still is not a quiet car at highway speed, with a Jetta and Altima being the reference points rather than something like a Lexus LS.

          I’ve never found magazine decibel readings useful, there is too much else behind whether a car seems quiet or not.

        • 0 avatar

          The latest Mazdas are better when it comes to keeping out ambient noises (as well as from the engine bay), but still generally noisier than the competition.

          That’s the price one pays to keep weight down.

        • 0 avatar

          Comparing the Focus to the Mazda3, the 3 definitely seems louder.

          The new CX-9 supposedly added 60 lb of noise deadening material, and the CX-5 has been tweaked to add more as well.

          However, I agree that they are more concerned about weight, so they will likely lag behind others on the amount of noise.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Mazda – Their decision to avoid hybrids will be praised by the same people who miss the rotary engine. Mazda could achieve its 20-30% MPG improvement today if they embraced reality and bolted in someone else’s hybrid system. These fools are condemned to sub-2% US market share forever.

    VW – Still no US solution 6 months after the scandal broke. I think they’re resigned to speaking through their lawyer now, hoping for a life sentence instead of the death penalty. They seem to have given up.

    Tesla – They face an uphill battle to win the wallets of the buyers they are targeting for the Model 3. When push comes to shove – and it always does – normal people don’t want to have Tesla sit on their $1000 deposit for 2 years while other competing products will be available sooner. That game worked for the S and X, but the ‘new guy’ shtick is wearing thin. They need to deliver; I know GM will.

    Furthermore, Tesla will be a victim of its own success, regarding the Federal subsidy. Their total sales will likely pass the magic 200,000 mark just as the Model 3 is coming on line, which means their vehicles (most importantly, the Model 3) will not receive the $7500 subsidy just when they need it most. The subsidy fades out within a year or so of that deadline.

    • 0 avatar
      Snail Kite

      I’m probably in their target demographic and wouldn’t think twice about putting down a deposit on the 3. The Leaf is uninteresting. The Bolt looks nice but in the end it’s just a compact Chevy. I don’t know of anything else on the horizon that’s compelling.

    • 0 avatar

      Mazdas already get excellent gas mileage… more gas mileage at even higher costs than their already relatively expensive prices would not do much for their market share. The Prius’ success is less about the tech and more about image- it’s conspicuous consumption for greenies. A hybrid Mazda doesn’t have that same appeal.

      • 0 avatar

        On the flip side, most of the industry has moved to small, 4-cylinder turbo engines to provide the mainstream power plants. I am looking at the Mazda6 as a replacement for my TDI, and the fuel numbers look good (though not as good as the TDI), and the fun factor is there. But the engine is a 2.5L I4. I wonder how much more “zoom zoom” they could get (along with fuel savings) by adopting a 1.8L or 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder?

      • 0 avatar

        Hybrid sales–except for the Prius–are not impressive and not helping companies’ bottom lines. Mazda is probably correct to forgo hybrids for now; with limited cash, Mazda can’t afford the opportunity costs.

        If their next gen tech (HCCI) works, then their regular engines sans hybridization will perform as well as current hybrids.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree with you about fuel mileage. I wrote about the rotary a decade ago, hoping that I’d find that the mileage could be boosted. Nope. (Send your email to HolzmanDC at a o l dot com and I’ll be happy to send you a copy of my article.) I suspect there’s a lot more potential for boosting piston engine efficiency. Which makes me happy.

      I like my internal combustion straight–like my bourbon.

  • avatar

    Wow, does anyone proof this stuff before slapping it online?

    “Audi is pulling back on the reigns of its U.S. sales goals for 2016”
    Unless royalty is somehow involved, that should be “reins.”

    “Want a Tesla Model 3? By another Tesla first”
    Make that “Buy”

    • 0 avatar

      Welcome to the jungle. It took some time, but we’ve finally hit a point where editorial chops have become antiquated and almost wholly unnecessary for most publications. I think it’s tragic, but maybe I’m just an old fart. Who needs coherent linguistic conventions anyway? Shakespeare could spell his name however he damn well pleased, and now these “writers” can too.

      I guess at the end of the day it’s all about the clicks; spelling, grammar, and even coherent sentences be damned. There are probably people in offices who have data to show that poorly written material might even tend to generate a few extra comments, such as these.

    • 0 avatar

      NeilM, Apple iPad iOS is the worst when it comes to inserting words while you type. It truly sucks!

      Don’t know what happened in this case but maybe Steph’s word-processor decided that “reigns” was better than “reins”, and “By” was better than “Buy.”

      Hey, something similar has happened to me, time and again.

      I don’t mind spell checkers but this wanton anticipation by the Apple iOS to assume what words I want to use is all fvcked upped!

      And….. I don’t know of a way to turn it off. Which means whatever I write, I have to read and re-read again.

      • 0 avatar

        Autocorrect is no excuse for crappy grammar.

        • 0 avatar

          Thank you caltemus!!!

          I disabled Auto-caps, Auto-corr, and Predictive on our two iPads and two iPhones that I had upgraded to iOS 9.3.

          This should also alleviate the grief when using my Bluetooth Belkin Code keyboard/case.

          BTW, the Night Shift feature is really great, especially since all of us use these Apple devices to catch up and close out our day before going to sleep.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you receive much e-mail? I’m frankly more appalled by the lack of grammar and facility with language in my professional environment than in my leisure environment. That said, TTAC (and online content in general) is superior to the state of “professional” e-mail communication.

  • avatar

    The Bolt is similarly priced to the Model 3, but in a smaller size class. They really don’t compete against each other. The Bolt is 164 inches in length. According to Tesla (they’ve recently released the “approximate” dimensions), the length of the Model 3 is around 186 inches. GM will probably have a price advantage at some point since Tesla will lose the $7500 subsidy well before they do.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know – I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the extra 20″ is in the hood and frunk. The bolt has an exceptionally short nose on it, so I bet that the interior volumes of the Bolt and Model E will be pretty comparable.

      Either way, GM is going to eat their Tesla’s lunch for a year or so – and I say this as a Tesla fan. Beating them to market by an entire year is a big deal, although the GM brass should be kicking themselves for not offering a Bolt with a Cadillac badge and design language first. (Or better yet, they should’ve established a dedicated sub-brand for their EVs, since “Chevy” has negative brand equity throughout much of their target market.)

      • 0 avatar

        The Bolt is Sonic sized and according to JB Straubel of Tesla, the Model 3 is Audi A4 size. It’s more than just length. Chevrolet lists front and rear passenger volume of the Bolt as 94.4 cubic feet. Lacking real Model 3 specs, the Audi A4 has a passenger volume of 103.4 cubic feet.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I can understand not wanting to take on the development costs of hybrid powertrains when they can meet fuel economy standards without them, but they simply will never touch the city mileage of a hybrid by using gasoline only. Given their inability to move their excellent 3, 6, and CX5 at anything close to the segment leaders, this may be the least of their sales concerns, though.

    • 0 avatar

      And that’s the real problem that Mazda will be faced with. It’s pretty clear that the future of cars is going to be electric, or at least heavily influenced by electric cars (aka hybrids). Everyone and their brother is dumping mountains of cash into developing hybrid and electric technology, and the companies that don’t do that will be stuck on the outside looking in. Maybe they can get another 20-30% improvement in fuel economy with gasoline, but what do you do after that? One day the other manufacturers will be putting out hybrid or electric vehicles that are twice as efficient as anything Mazda has, and Mazda will be two decades behind on electric/hybrid R&D when that happens.

      • 0 avatar

        Their plan is to:

        1. Fully optimize the engine
        2. Add electrification
        3. Add electric drive
        4. Full electric vehicle

        They are still working on 1 and 2. They plan to have an HCCI engine by 2020 which supposedly will be 30% better than their current engines. Then they want to move to an adiabatic engine which will be even more efficient. They intend to meet Europe’s future 65 mg CO2/km limit without electric drive.

        Their i-ELOOP system is an example of electrification. They seem to not be putting much money into that yet. If they can get their planned engine improvements, then it makes sense. An optimized hybrid still needs an optimized engine.

        However, I think they’d do well with a full EV. The instant torque & low CoG are ideal for their fun-to-drive character.

  • avatar

    Mazda is making VWs mistake all over again. Improving an ICE now is too little too late. It’s a huge gamble for Mazda to stay in the pilgrim era ;)

    Hybrids are not the be all and end all tech, no doubt. But staying with an ICE-only strategy means being less and less relevant. Sure, range is awesome and all that, but there are improvements and alternatives in the electrified space all the time.

    Anyone who is letting Toyota run away with the hybrid/e store, is making a huge mistake. It’s probably already too late.

    Saying you stay with ICE only is like admitting you don’t know how to keep up with the times.

    I’ve point this out before in the context of VWs woes. Companies need to disrupt *themselves* to have a future. They cannot keep doing what they’ve been doing. The world *is* changing.

    • 0 avatar

      Let’s leave the suitability of EVs as a replacement for ICE vehicles alone, and just look at some other stuff. The most optimistic projections estimate that EVs (which, for reasons unclear, are defined as plug-in hybrids, EVs, and fuel cell vehicles) will be around 35% of the light-vehicle market by 2040. This projection assumes that the dropping price (and performance improvement) of battery technology will create cost-competitive vehicles, that fossil fuels will be very expensive, and does not appear to factor in the probable loss of government subsidies.

      Everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that currently, batteries are expensive and dirty to produce, and increasing demand by a factor of 10 will drive up the prices of the raw materials. Each Tesla uses 14 kilos of lithium (which, btw, also comes from places that don’t like America very much), and the Tesla Gigafactory alone, running at full capacity, would likely disrupt world lithium supplies. There might be some breakthrough tech we don’t foresee, but incremental improvements are most likely, and Lithium Ion batteries look like the best bet for EVs.

      Secondly, while it is possible to tax fossil fuels out of the economic equation, better production methods have created a surplus of oil, and even the most conservative estimates of proven reserves make a price spike driven by scarcity unlikely in the next 20-25 years.

      And finally, no government I know of can pay 35% of new-car buyers several thousand dollars towards the price of their new cars unless they are awash in petrodollars, and the likelihood of that is quite low.

      This is all to say that for a small company like Mazda that can’t afford the extraordinary development cost of alternate-propulsion vehicles without guaranteed ROI, it really makes sense to try to make ICE vehicles as fuel efficient as possible. Thermal efficiency of engines from the 80 averaged around 17%; now, GDI engines can exceed 35%. Improving that number is much cheaper than the alternative, and it reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emission in a real way. It’s not perfect, and I hope big companies like Toyota create a practical, affordable alternative that’s fossil-fuel-free, but Mazda’s not just sticking its head in the sand.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “…no government I know of can pay 35% of new-car buyers several thousand dollars”

        True, but that can’t happen anyway, since the law requires the subsidy to fade within a year after a mfr has sold 200k EVs.

        So even if 10 mfrs eventually sold 200k EVs since 1/1/2010, the government’s total outlay would be a paltry $15 billion spread out over a decade or so. I’m no fan of subsidies, but that’s not so bad, really.

      • 0 avatar

        >> (which, btw, also comes from places that don’t like America very much),

        Does that include the Nevada mines where the supplies for Teslas Gigafactory are coming from?

        There’s a lot of new battery tech in the process of moving out of the lab and into the pilot production phase. These technologies will be moving into mass production in the early 20’s. At least one of the technologies improves on current lithium technology both in terms of more efficient manufacturing and higher density than current batteries.

        • 0 avatar

          smaartascii, I don’t disagree with one bit of what you say, really. Most people don’t see it as a slam dunk that EVs are THE solution. Far from it.

          Environmentally speaking, all propulsion systems made by an industrial process will have major impact at the source, or elsewhere. One of the most renewable sources out there is a form of nuclear energy, solar, but we are obviously not in a position to harness and amass it for the instantaneous need we have for it.

          I would welcome an ICE that is say 50-60% thermally efficient, but let’s face it, the byproducts of combustion require heat (from fuel) to treat them to something less harmful, so there is a very high cost built into the chemistry of using it. Can Mazda disrupt the ICE space by proving a 6-stroke ICE with water? That has many unsolved problems still. Audi is using some very different engine internals to squeeze a little more out of an ICE, but it’s not much. I really wish the whole industry had started 20-30 years ago and pushed hard on making ICE more efficient back then. Now, the realities are pushing a different kind of regulatory landscape where emissions trumps all else. At least that to me seems to be the trend. It is a risk. If in five years there is some serious data on climate disruption what is there to guarantee that emissions standards do not become prohibitive for even the most efficient ICE? VW had to come to a crisis point, and look at how hard it is for them to pivot. (And VWs root problem in my mind was the inability to foresee that emissions was the new elephant in the room that everyone should get away from).

          R&D budget-wise I am not convinced that ICE improvements would be that much cheaper than hybrid or EV powertrains. Perhaps they will be. It is not obvious to me though. But Mazda didn’t seem to have the ability to deliver a small diesel to compete with VW, at that price point and presumably remain compliant. So, it remains to be seen if they have what it takes to revolutionize ICE efficiency.

          My point was that business wise it is a very poor decision. There is no long-term strategy there, and they are staying behind where everyone else is moving. It is a bit like a company that makes fax machines refusing to produce or slap their logo on anything involving SMS, or a touch screen. (I am using an exaggerated analogy here to emphasize the point).

          • 0 avatar

            As posted above, rumors are that SkyActiv 2 will be out by 2020 with another large bump in efficiency. And they have another generation in the pipeline after that.

            Too many people think in terms of one solution. Instead, I expect to see segment-specific solutions to leverage each technology’s strengths. Small cars for commuting or city driving will go electric. Large vans/trucks will may go natural gas (fuel cell is an option, but hydrogen is a waste). Semis will probably always be diesel. Aircraft including drones make sense with hydrogen.

            Mazda has a technology partnership with Toyota. When they need a hybrid, such as the hybrid Mazda3 currently available in Japan, they will simply plug in the Toyota hybrid system (paired to their own engine) with minimal development expense. I believe that tech partnership also covers EV & fuel cells.

            I posted their long-term strategy above. IMO, it’s one of the more sensible plans, assuming CARB doesn’t nail them for not having a zero emission car.

          • 0 avatar

            Mazda did come out with a competitive diesel engine. It’s sold in overseas markets, and can match the VW TDI’s performance, and meet emission standards without aftertreatment. Problem with the VW comparison is that VW met the diesel emission standards by cheating.

            Mazda is purportedly readying the Skyactiv 2 HCCI engines for introduction in 2018. Implementing new technology is not one of Mazda’s weaknesses. Their smaller size and R&D budget means that they have to focus on improvements that are market-ready. Eventually, I see them going to electrification, but not before clearer signs of market transition.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. Mazda’s focus is generally on smaller, more economical vehicles. If they dont embrace an electric or hybrid strategy somewhere along the line (and soon), they will be left in the dust. Electric cars are a blast to drive (yes, even the Leaf) and will likely start to overtake the compact-premium market first. Unfortunately for Mazda, this is the same sandbox that Mazda plays in….

      • 0 avatar

        “Electric cars are a blast to drive (yes, even the Leaf) and will likely start to overtake the compact-premium market first.”

        My wife drove a friend’s older Leaf. She said that its acceleration was so bad that never drive it on a busy freeway where you needed to get up to speed before merging in. My wife’s daily driver is a smart forTwo that is two years older than that Leaf and the smart was far more fun in her opinion.

        I did a Lotus club track day (on a go-cart track!) and a bunch of (Lotus Elise-chassised) Tesla Roadsters ran as well. They were a handful in the twisty parts of the track and were 10-15 seconds slower than the 70-75 seconds laps that I and other Elise owners were doing.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The Mazda press release is an attempt to put a positive spin on the fact they they can’t afford R&D.

    Kind of like this week’s Toyota release that said that they won’t be first to fully comply with the voluntary automated-emergency-braking standard. They may even be last to fully comply, but their press release made it sound like they walk on water, and TTAC swallowed it whole (until the B&B got to it, of course).

    What amazes me is how Steph parrots the spin instead of looking just one (obvious) level down. Is this really TTAC?

    Obviously, VW and FCA are always mocked in the daily news, but that’s more of a stylistic decision than journalism. Even today, a judge pulls a date out of his ass, VW can’t comply with the date because it has no relationship with reality, and TTAC makes fun of VW. If it was almost any other maker, TTAC would have complained about government incompetence…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      As an engineer, I can appreciate the difficult challenge VW has to fix their US diesels.

      But it’s been 6 months since the news broke. I believe their strategy is morphing away from a technical fix to a legal/financial one instead.

      Six months of nothing – not a good way to treat regulators and customers. As a business, they should be mocked for the way their arrogance and ineptitude go hand in hand.

      • 0 avatar

        SCE — spot on.

        VW is fast morphing into a law firm with a few engineers sprinkled around for appearances.

      • 0 avatar

        As an engineer, I can appreciate the level of effort required to fix all of the noncompliant VWs. But the fix itself is not complicated. In earlier vehicles, a DEF system needs to be installed (at great cost to VW) and in later vehicles, the DEF system simply needs to be updated so that it actually works full-time.

        The whole Dieselgate scandal is overblown anyway. Yes, VW cheated and they got caught. Their ineptitude and arrogance is appalling, especially to the TDI dealers and owners who are stuck with an unsaleable hunk of metal. But in terms of overall NOx emissions, VW diesels are among the lowest percentage of offenders. Try commuting in rush hour and look for old semis and cr4p haulers that belch voluminous clouds of grey smoke upon acceleration. Or watch as a diesel commuter train accelerates from a station and burps nastiness for the first 15 seconds. Those are the real problems in the NOx / diesel world. Unfiltered TDIs are a footnote by comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Sure, but as you know, a 2009 TDI has to meet a higher standard than an old semi.

          And a diesel commuter train is pulling hundreds of passengers while a TDI has 1-5, so the pollution per capita is probably lower for the train.

          Even if VW knows how to fix these cars, I think they’re finding it’s not worth it to try. They’d be facing months or years of supply chain issues, endless repair shop hours, journalist scrutiny and re-review of TDI performance after the fix, and endless debate about resale value.

          It’s just easier to work out a legal settlement, which may include the destruction of the cars in question.

    • 0 avatar

      “What amazes me is how Steph parrots the spin instead of looking just one (obvious) level down. Is this really TTAC?”

      1. That seems to be how he rolls, repeatedly.
      2. Well, it is the TTAC of today …..

  • avatar

    VW of A has been marching down the road to Chapter 11 steadily for the past 6 months. They had many opportunities to take a different path but corporate intransigence has sealed their fate. Expect April 21 to pass with no resolution. The Judge will not be happy. Max fines will be assessed right then and there, and a trial date will soonafter be set for all the civil proceedings. VWoA will have to go Chapter 11. At that point, it truly becomes insane because all the agreements with “old” VWoA instantly become suspect. Customers will get the shaft, dealer franchisees might get something. CARB and EPA will fight over the leftover table scraps for years.

  • avatar

    I don’t get the reaction towards Mazda. This is a small company, they don’t have the resources to be a full line maker, and now they can no longer borrow engines from papa Ford. That’s why there’s no V6 Mazda6, and no V6 CX-9. The either can’t, or won’t make one.

    Their rose colored glasses about their rotary past caused them to hold on to that idea LONG after the sell by date, but I don’t think them not shoehorning a hybrid system into a 3 or 6 will be that much of a problem. It’s not as if a hybrid Mazda3 or 6 will suddenly be putting up Camcordima numbers.

    The CX-5 is doing pretty well for itself considering Mazda’s limited marketing ability and small dealer network, and they were fast to compete with the HR-V with the CX-3, a segment that Toyota still has no answer for. Toyota in general is fairly inept at sub compacts, something Mazda knows how to do well. They aren’t going anywhere, even if they stay ICE only.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      TIL: EPA classifies the CX-3 as a compact car. FWIW, Juke a small station wagon.

      HR-V, Encore, Trax, Subaru Crosstrek & Outback are all small SUVs, allowing them to average out the bigger vehicles in their category.

      If Mazda ever gets into a hole, isn’t Toyota going buy/bail them out?

    • 0 avatar

      They already have a hybrid solution–Toyota. Their tech partnership allows them to just pair that system to their engines. They already have a hybrid 3 in Japan. If they had to, they could bring that to the US, but considering the trend of hybrid sales, it’s not worth it.

  • avatar

    Smells like Mazda has figured out essentially what FCA has: there are no points for exceeding Federal targets, and electrical drives are expensive. Best to let the supplier base get really set and cheap for electric powertrains (on someone else’s dime), then start using OTS units.

    That way, they’ll have everything else solid (lightweight engineering, the gas side of the equation, driving dynamics, etc.) in time for the cheap / light electrical drives to come on the scene.

  • avatar

    Mazda isn’t going anywhere. And I don’t think they are as against hybrid and electric technology as they say they are. The Japan-only hybrid 3 proves that. They just don’t have the R&D to make their own. As has been said, they’ll wait for the technology to become cheaper and more widespread, and then they will make their own or adopt someone else’s. And I could totally see Toyota taking a share of Mazda just like Ford did. The Mazda2 sedan (Scion iA) was Scion’s best selling car rather quickly. It’s obvious Mazda knows what they’re doing as far as design and engineering. They’re just a small company and have to do small company things (like outsourcing a car to another company) right now.

    • 0 avatar

      My thoughts exactly. I recall reading somewhere that Mazda has a close enough relationship with Toyota to adopt some of their hybrid tech if needed. And that Mazda could use their rotary experience, one day, to make small electrical rotary engines to power the front or rear wheels.

      That said, ICE still has a lot of room for improvement. Thermal efficiency averages a measly 20%. Staying with ICE keeps cost and complexity down, and improves reliability. For the near future, that is the smarter move; it’s tough to compete with Prius.

  • avatar

    “If Model 3 development remains on schedule, production won’t begin until late 2017. ”

    “If Model 3 development remains on schedule, production won’t begin until late 2020.
    THere I fixed it for you.

  • avatar

    “Neigh like a horse for me, and I’ll put this key in your boyfriend’s hand”

  • avatar

    IIRC Mazda has an extended range EV Mazda2 in Japan. Like a Volt, but the gas engine is a rotary, hence lighter & smaller & smoother than a normal ICE lump. Nobody else can do this because nobody else has rotaries. Yes, MPG in gasoline mode will likely suck, but it’s a range extender, so it’s rarely called on in typical driving. This seems like a smarter path–a way to combine the brand’s calling card — light & lively driving — with electrical primary power which is, as Howard Hughes once said of jets, the way of the future. The way of the future. The way of the future…

    • 0 avatar

      They sunk a lot of money into a hydrogen Wankel–a waste if you ask me since hydrogen is a boondoggle. However, the rotary as a generator or range extender is a good idea. I think Mazda has an opportunity to expand beyond cars with that product.

      Also, the efficiency of a rotary can be pretty decent if it runs at the right speed & load. You can’t assure that for driving a car, but you can with a generator.

  • avatar

    Not having hybrid is not a big deal really, especially if you do not sell a lot of V8 and V6 SUVs to begin with.

    Now HCCI, I’m not sure if they have the resource to be the first one out, or without huge problems at the beginning.

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