TTAC News Round-up: Mazda Doesn't Need No Stinkin' Hybrids, Volkswagen Rebuffs Deadline, and March Looks Like a Winner

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ttac news round up mazda doesnt need no stinkin hybrids volkswagen rebuffs

“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.

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

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.

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.

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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3 of 64 comments
  • HotPotato HotPotato on Mar 25, 2016

    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...

    • Redav Redav on Mar 28, 2016

      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.

  • PandaBear PandaBear on Mar 28, 2016

    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.

  • Cprescott I remember when Fords were affordable.
  • Cprescott As a once very LOYAL FORD buyer, I had to replace my 22 year old Ford (bought new in 1997) once it finally started to have problems at 180k miles. I would have gladly purchased something like this from Ford but they abandoned me as a car buyer. Oddly, Hyundai still builds cars in a variety of flavors so I became a customer of theirs and am very happy. Likely will consider another once this one gets up in mileage.
  • SCE to AUX A friend once struck a mounted tire that was laying flat in the middle of her lane on the PA Turnpike. She was in a low late-90s Grand Prix, and the impact destroyed the facia, core support, radiators, oil pan, transmission, subframe, and suspension. They fixed it all.
  • Dukeisduke Lol, it's not exactly a Chevrolet SS with Holden badging.
  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.