By on July 23, 2016

2016 Mazda CX-5, Image: Mazda

Volkswagen’s emissions scandal gave oil burners a bad name, but Mazda isn’t ditching its plans for a diesel roll-out in North America.

The automaker has an internal timeline for a stateside launch of Skyactiv diesels that will meet stringent U.S. pollution regulations, Automotive News reports.

When they’ll show up is anyone’s guess. Speaking at the Japanese launch of the refreshed Mazda3, Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Masamichi Kogai didn’t give any hints.

“We are not giving up,” Kogai said. “We have a timeline.”

He added that he’d like the launch to happen while he’s still CEO — a statement that won’t have American diesel fans scrambling to clear their schedules.

Mazda’s diesels are big in Japan, but emissions restrictions are tougher on this side of the Pacific. Engineers are working to achieve the right balance of power and cleanliness, Hiroyuki Matsumoto, general manager of Mazda’s vehicle development division, told Automotive News.

Unlike other automakers, Mazda hasn’t adopted hybrid powertrains in its fleet, opting to focus on high-compression gasoline engines that deliver increased mileage without the added complexity and expense. Second generation Skyactiv gasoline engines should start appearing in March 2019. The automaker predicts a 30 percent fuel efficiency boost thanks to a compression ratio of 18:1, up from the previous generation’s 14:1.

The next generation of Mazda vehicles will see weight-saving measures to further aid fuel economy.

[Image: Mazda]

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72 Comments on “Mazda Still Plans to Launch Diesels in the U.S....”


  • avatar

    I wonder how many companies are going to go under when they realize that they have to go PHEV or EV just to continue to exist?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Midsized automakers have limited resources, and have to be strategic in their investment decisions. Mazda has chosen to focus on improving conventional ICE, rather than EV, hybrid or Wankel. It’s been a smart move to date, but we’ll see if they can continue to wring out sufficient efficiency gains over the next 8 years.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Steph Williams
        Japanese Diesel regulations are much tougher than the US regulations. Notice how many Hino and Isuzu Trucks are running around in the US?
        Interesting to see Mazda introduce the Skyactive Diesel, as strangely it was not introduced in Australia. Small diesels do not have much or any advantage over Petrol versions.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I get this magazine at work:

      http://www.enginetechnologyinternational.com/

      The cover of the most recent issue has Mazda’s VP of R&D saying (in big, bold letters) “We’ll create the first HCCI engine and be the last with BEVs.”

    • 0 avatar
      cornellier

      Does the so-called user “bigtruckseriesreview @ Youtube” have a script that replies immediately with “rule Chrysler” to whatever is posted here?

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      “I wonder how many companies are going to go under when they realize that they have to go PHEV or EV just to continue to exist?”

      So, is this really the plan of the globalist and greenies? To get the hated, dirty, earth killing whale hating companies to go under?

      I think you just made a few leftist smile softly.

  • avatar
    RyleyinSTL

    18:1, that’s got to require premium petrol, yes? I know they have done some magic to prevent the need currently but I can’t imagine one could engineer themselves out of that one.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Yes, most likely. it’s going to also need some novel piston/chamber designs to promote turbulence and prevent detonation.

      Mazda is also pushing hard to make HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition) work, so this is probably just a step on the way to that.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        That compression ratio blows my old man brain. Where are they going to get fuel? If the knock sensor detects knock, is it going to retard 10-15 or more degrees? Richen then lean? The variables at that ratio are many, usually with catastrophic results. They seem to have the 14:1 down, as driving my neighbors 3 is seamless and, for the money, an amazing buy. I would like to talk to their engineers to ask what gains they’re expecting for the change. I still cannot get my head around compression ignition in a gas engine.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          increasing the static compression ratio gets you an increase in overall efficiency. 18:1 is getting a little eye-watering, but I wager it’s possible with direct injection. I wouldn’t in a million years try it with port injection.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        Mazda said (when skyactiv 1 launched) that skyactiv 2 will have HCCI. I used to work in an engine research lab and some people were of the opinion that sensors and ECU processing power were the only hurdles to HCCI.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      It will likely use a tremendous amount of EGR.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        Which is why you will see diesel long before HCCI from Mazda in the US. The more mpg mandates crank down diesel will come back full circle. HCCI is nothing but a pipe dream. Any gasoline engine trying to reach 52+mpg by itself (no hybridization)will be a tough sell. Hybridization helps to bridge the gap but adds cost. Diesel broke the mpg barrier years ago and are on the brink on the emissions end. The HD segment as usual is leading the way with new tech and we will be seeing new single unit systems in place of the DPF/SCR, up to 60% smaller, 40% lighter, and 20% lower back pressure with significant emissions reductions compared to previous systems.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I assume Mazda will continue using late intake valve closing, so the effective compression ratio will be much less than the nominal one. What’s really happening is Mazda is increasing the expansion ratio of the engine more than its compression ratio.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    What’s old is new again…is HCCI similar to Ford’s PROCO (Programmed Combustion) engine experimentation in the late 70s? The idea was that such precise control of fuel, ignition, delivery system, and combustion chamber design allowed for a gas engine to have all the virtues of a diesel engine. Unfortunately for Ford, electronics of the day were too primitive for the computing power and speed needed for the controls system to react quickly enough.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      no, the PROCO concept was the predecessor to modern gasoline direct injection technology.

      http://papers.sae.org/780699/

      (I’m not willing to pay $18 for the paper)

      HCCI is where you have a thoroughly pre-mixed (homogeneous) fuel-air charge, which you then get to ignite via the high temperatures of compression, and (this is the important part) *without it detonating.* That last part has been the biggest challenge; it’s easy to get a homogeneous charge to auto-ignite, the hard part is to get it to burn in a controlled manner instead of detonating in one whack.

      diesels are non-homogeneous charge compression ignition. the fuel begins burning instantly as it’s sprayed into the chamber. it has very little opportunity to vaporize and mix with the air, which is why they produce so much soot.

  • avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    Only Mazda could double-down on a technological dead-end and wring additional viability from it: rotary engines. Their swept volume prevented any real efficiency as they’re better at turning fuel into heat than mechanical motion (over simplifying but close enough). However my couple years with a RX7 were magical, most shifts occurring at red line with the warning buzzer bleeping at me and a mad grin on my face despite the relatively low hp and especially bad torque. Or because of it.

    If there’s a company that has the passion to turn diesel engines into a very pleasant and rewarding dead-end technology, it’s going to be Mazda. I just hope that behind the scenes they’ve got a really good E.V. ace up their sleeve.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      They have said, as quoted above, that they will be the last to market a BEV. They’re simply not interested in electric or Hybrid systems.

      Their objectives are to optimize efficiency and emissions levels in gasoline and diesel engines.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Good on Mazda, maybe they see BEV’s as dead ends like others do.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          It’s not that Mazda believes BEVs are dead-end. From JimZ’s link (thanks!) to Engine Technology International:

          “Saruwatari… concedes that at some stage in the future… Mazda will probably have to produce a BEV…”

          But they are also thinking along the lines of a new biofuel or biodiesel where the efficiency would surpass that of a BEV.

          It’s pretty bold pie in the sky stuff. Continuing:

          “We don’t believe a fun sports car can be a pure electric [drive]… Engine performance is important, engine sound is important, and engine feeling is important.”

          • 0 avatar

            “We don’t believe a fun sports car can be a pure electric [drive]… Engine performance is important, engine sound is important, and engine feeling is important.”

            It is a total BS. I am sorry for Mazda if they think this way and instead of boldly heading into the future. By the same logic riding horse is a more fun than driving car. Well because you just used to think so. There is nothing exiting about low torque , sound and dirtiness of ICE, it is so 20th century.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “I am sorry for Mazda if they think this way and instead of boldly heading into the future”

            BEVs were boldly heading into the future a century ago as well. Which in no way means they can’t be the car of the future. Just that, extrapolating from prior performance, they’ll take their merry old time getting there. Leaving plenty of room for improved ICEs in the mean time.

            Realistically, BEVs will evolve to do their highway miles autorouted. Running on infrastructure provided power, which will also charge the battery en route. Allowing for much smaller, lighter, cheaper and less polluting to manufacture batteries, as they will be needed only for short local hops and last mile. Which does make the whole notion of a driver involvement focused BEV sports car, a bit suspect as far as mass adoption goes.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Inside…
            “By the same logic riding horse is a more fun than driving car.”

            Have you ever ridden a horse? As I recall, it was indeed fun.

          • 0 avatar

            Nevertheless Mazda does not make horses but ffor whatever reason decided to get stuck was technology which is already obsolete. And you know that ICE will be legislated out one way or another. It reminds me how GM decided to stick with OHV pushrod engines until it was too late – progress passed them and left behind.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @Inside –

            The thermal efficiency of an ICE hovers around 20%, so there’s lots of room for improvement. Mazda wants to squeeze out as much from the ICE as possible before moving onto BEV. That makes sense for a small manufacturer; as some other commenters mentioned, the infrastructure and standards for charging stations, embedded highway charging, and home charging will be better by the time Mazda joins the fray. In the meantime, Mazda’s vehicles will continue to grow lighter, and a small version of the rotary engine may play a role in powering each wheel electrically.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Hundreds of millions, Inside Looking Out. That’s how many internal combustion engines will be produced this year. And next year. And the year after that. It doesn’t matter that they’re obsolete. They’re doing it just to spite you. And if you think they don’t put out enough torque for automotive use, then you have either never driven an interesting vehicle in your life, or you were completely incompetent at doing so. You obviously have no understanding of the concept of gearing. A few thousand lb-ft at the wheels is plenty.

          • 0 avatar

            Do you seriously think that future is not coming, that the same old stuff will continue infinitely? Just study the history. Things tend to change continuously, usually towards progress.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Piston Slap Yo Mama,
      I’d say by then Mazda could almost buy an “off the shelf” setup and then tune the motor to suit ……… until someone decides that a CAFE EV equivalent is necessary, ie, so many Kwh for a certain size vehicle.

      That will be the day I laugh at these EV fans.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    One of the reasons I waited so long to get my Mazda6 was in the hope the diesel variant would come out. Now, by the time it does, it seems likely I’ll be in a BEV. Too bad.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    They really should just give up that dream. A niche automaker with a niche engine… Like I said the other day, they remind me too much of Blackberry.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      2 niche engines! Diesel on one end, and rotary on the other.

      There’s method to the madness though: As the big guys devote more and more resources to BEVs and FCVs, Mazda’s relative share of total resources devoted to ICE development will rise. As will their ability to attract the best and brightest amongst young engineers (pretty much the only game left of real importance, in a society where every age cohort is smaller than the one preceding it….) still interested in that “passe technology.” Which, conveniently enough, overlaps to a fair degree, with those prone to retain an above norm interest in Zoom-Zoom….

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        You made me read the Wiki on the Stanley Motor Carriage Company.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        The problem is, VW finished in the past 12 months what Oldsmobile started 30 years ago. Americans hold on to perceptions long past the time realities have changed. I can’t see Mazda turning a profit from US sales of a diesel when they can barely move their gas burners off the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      kvndoom,
      I do believe the problem is the quality of the diesel fuel available in the US.

      ULSD in the US ranges between 43-45. Euro/Aus/Japan,etc have diesel with a cetane rating of 51+. The higher the cetane rating the lower a diesel engines compression can be. More compression in any engine equates to NOx.

      So, as gas engine increase compression they are increasing NOx and diesels have been reducing compression they have been reducing NOx.

      This is the crux of the problem with the SkyActiv diesel, it runs at 14:1 compression. US diesel cetane rating doesn’t allow a diesel to run at such a low compression ratio. The poorer cetan US diesel cetane rating actually causes US diesel engines to be “dirtier” than need be.

      I’m amazed that the US just doesn’t improve it’s diesel quality to assist in reducing emissions. So, why doesn’t the US change regulate a change in the quality of US diesel. Existing US diesels will perform no differently with it, similar to running a higher octane gasoline will not affect a gasoline engine.

      Here’s an interesting link on cetane ratings;

      http://www.trucktrend.com/news/1209dp-what-is-cetane/

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Ok, so why does the 2.8 Duramax in the U.S. GM mid-sizers have a lower compression ratio than the 3.2 Puma used by Ford elsewhere in the world?

        and bleating about it with regards to a gas engine is premature. regardless of the injection type or compression ratio gas engines still have to oscillate around stoichiometric, so they can still use the simple three-way catalyst instead of the separate reduction catalyst and DEF.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          JimZ,
          WTF?

          Lets start with basic engine design.

          So, why doesn’t an old flat head Ford V8 put out the same power as a Coyote.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            If you think two modern 4 valve common-rail turbodiesels are as different from each other as an 80 year old flathead V8 and a modern DOHC V8, I can’t help you.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            JimZ,
            Come on mate!!! Different engine designs!!!

            Do you understand the basics of engineering and design?

            Really, you have two different engines and even two different manufacturers. Why should they be the same?

            By God! Are you trolling by any chance?

            It seems you are the one who needs the help, mate. Quit your “flaming”.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I’m not your buddies Lou_BC and DenverMike. from here on out I just ignore you.

            Have a good day!

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Good riddens then, if that is what you want. You are using words such as “bleating”, so if you want my tone to alter, you’d better start to look inwards a little.

            Please read what you put forward.

            How many current gasoline engines are the same, even with GDI? Why do the Big 3 V8 have different characteristics?

            Diesel is no different. Different engines, different manufacturers possibly designed at different times, with different emissions targets.

            The 3.2 Durtorque is a 90s engine. I don’t know how old the design of the VM based GM 2.8 is. The GM 2.8 is slightly different to the VM 2.8 as well.

            I’d say the GM 2.8 is a newer engine design. I might be wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          The stoichiometrics of a gasoline engine dictates it runs at 14.7:1, hence the use of a throttle.

          Diesels can run down to 50:1, with “no” throttle. Less fuel equals less pollutants. But as more power is needed this will drop down to levels equivalent to a gasoline engine.

          Theoretically diesel compression ratios are unlimited. But, the older diesels that ran 20-24:1 compression using high sulphur diesel are still used as a basis for the “dirty” diesel mindset.

          As for the catalysts. Diesel will always produce more contaminants because of the nature of the heavier fuel.

          I’d say the biggest hurdle is NOx in both engines (petrol/diesel).

          So, with a lower compression diesel, you will reduce NOx output. Making it cheaper and easier to remove.

          Gasoline compression has risen, especially since the refinement of GDI has taken hold. This has increased the level of NOx emissions and particulate emissions in gasoline engines.

          Gasoline engine would benefit from DEF as well. People tend to forget that gasoline engine do produce NOx, again not at the levels of diesel.

          GPF will be a feature in the future for GDI engines. Some manufacturers are using direct and port injection to reduce gasoline particulates. I don’t know how effective this is in comparison to using a GPF. It must suit current emission controls.

          A modern, maintained diesel is now cleaner than any GDI engine.

          I do believe diesel has more potential in the future of the automobile than gasoline.

          Many on this site concentrate on the “dirty” emissions and forget that its carbon emissions that will ultimately cause a greater problem for us.

          This is why the EU were chasing CO2 more so than the US. The US will have problems chasing CO2 to protect it’s large vehicle segment of its auto manufacturing sector. Again another reason for the differing regulations and controls between the EU and the US.

          Now EuroVI is almost on par with US emissions regulations with stricter CO2 emissions. So which one is the better for the world?

          Oh, now with the EU and US working more closely regarding the harmonisation of vehicle regulations has put the US manufacturers under pressure from an emissions and FE standpoint.

          We have seen this over the past several weeks regarding some of the article in relation to CAFE targets by US manufacturers. The US government I believe will not change its stance on FE and emission targets, as it is working in conjunction with other major partners.

          I’d say within a decade or so the EU, US, Japan, Korea, etc will all use identical vehicle standards.

          My argument is the US produces EU quality diesel for export to the EU, so why isn’t the US using this diesel as well. This would reduce diesel emissions in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            Big Al, you misunderstand what the word “pollution” means in the US and it leads you to make statements that are total nonsense. The tough US pollution problem is photochemical smog in Southern California. The important US pollution performance issues are unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen that contribute to photochemical smog. The high compression ratios and lean air/fuel ratios of diesel are associated with difficulty meeting NOx limits. Mazda talks a good game, but no manufacturer has been able to make diesel passenger cars simultaneously EPA compliant and cost competitive. For gasoline engines, Mazda appears to be talking about more aggressive use of Atkinson cycle with late late closing of the intake valves to achieve a high expansion ratio of 18:1.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            What “future” are you talking about? BS aside, diesels will go the way of the dodo, for everyday passenger cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            George B,
            I don’t disagree with the gist of your comment, except I am most aware of compression equating to NOx increases, but this is on all ICEs, not just limited to diesel.

            I also mention diesel being a heavier fuel than gasoline makes it inherently more polluting when burnt. But, it is able to be cleaned. And as we have found out GDI emit more particulates, which are more harmful to the body due to their small size than diesel does now under existing emissions regulations.

            As far as I know, particulates are apart of photo chemical smog. GDI (most newer gasoline) engines lead the way in comparison to diesel.

            Diesel compression has been reducing. I would not use VW as a basis for diesel emissions as well. They have set back the take up of diesel.

            As for CO2, it is a pollutant. It does affect the ecology of the planet. I’ll agree to disagree on that one.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Don’t worry about the GDIs. They won’t need urea injection and expensive junk hardware to run clean. Worry about diesels for passenger cars.

            Worry about getting filthy/disgusting cancer causing pre-emissions diesels and TDIs off the world’s streets and byways ASAP. Europe especially. Pronto Tonto.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      RyleyinSTL,
      There is work currently underway in developing compression ignition gasoline engines. These engines are called “homogeneous charge compression ignition”.

      I’d say there is no way any spark ignited engine could operate at such compression ratios.

      With such high pressures in the combustion chamber gasoline will encounter the same issue with “pollutants” like NOx as a diesel.

      Here’s an interesting link on very high compression ignition gasoline engines;

      http://www.gizmag.com/gasoline-powered-diesel-like-engine/22608/

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do believe the authors of these article should sit down and actually do some investigative research prior to releasing articles that others read and might consider factual. It appears the Japanese even had the most stringent diesel emissions regulations only a short time ago.

    (over) Statement from Steph;
    “The automaker has an internal timeline for a stateside launch of Skyactiv diesels that will meet stringent U.S. pollution regulations”

    The US diesel regulations are now not that much different from EuroVI or the Japanese. I’d even say the Japanese diesel emissions regulations could be very close to that of the US.

    So, making comments eluding to how tough US diesel regulations are is an over reach on Steph’s part.

    Why doesn’t Steph actually do some research into the real cause for the delay in the release of the SkyActive diesel into the US market.

    The primary reason for this delay isn’t the so called over reach “stringent diesel regulations”, but the fact the quality of US is not the same making it near on impossible for a SkyActive to operate with it’s low compression.

    US diesel’s cetane rating makes it impossible to run a diesel engine at 14:1 compression which is required for a SkyActive diesel.

    Cut and Paste and link:

    Japan introduced fist new engine emissions standards for onroad light-duty vehicles and heavy-duty engines in the late 1980’s. The Japanese standards, however, remained relaxed through the 1990’s.

    In 2003 the MOE finalized very stringent 2005 emission standards for both light and heavy vehicles. At the time they came to power, the 2005 heavy-duty emission standards (NOx = 2 g/kWh, PM = 0.027 g/kWh) were the most stringent diesel emission regulation in the world. Effective 2009, these limits were further tightened to a level in-between the US 2010 and Euro V requirements, and the 2016 limits are comparable in stringency to the US 2010 and Euro VI standards.

    https://www.dieselnet.com/standards/jp/

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    In my area diesel is cheaper than premium so if Mazda could make a diesel work as a performance option I’d be interested.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      This is a reason why we’ve owned TDIs over the years.

      Is this the way it usually is, or is your pricing seasonal? Here in the northeast, where home heating oil is so prevalent, the price of Diesel traditionally goes up in the winter, where there is more demand for the nearly identical home heating oil. That being said, this year is the first in many, many years where Diesel has been lower than premium gas.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        Prices generally flop where I live, with diesel being higher than regular during the winter months and lower than regular during the summer months. I can’t remember the last time when diesel was more than premium, but it’s been several years. Right now diesel is only a few cents less than regular but for nearly two months diesel was around 20-25 cents a gallon less than regular.

        Demand for gas is highest during the summer months, and supposedly summer-blend fuels use different oxygenates which also raises the price per gallon.

        I’m not sure as to the reasoning for the fluctuation in diesel pricing but I suspect it may have as much to do with winter additives as anything. True, much of the NE still uses home heating oil during the winter but those units are slowly getting replaced by cheaper heating sources or more efficient oil furnaces. Also, think of the amount of fuel used spring through fall in the construction and Ag industry. I would guess it far exceeds the amount of fuel used by heating during the winter months, but I could be wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          Jimal

          It is definitely demand for home heating oil that affects Diesel prices here in the northeast during the cold months. There are still plenty of homes with tanks in their basements. I’d love to switch to natural gas, but there isn’t a main on my road, and if there was it would be cost prohibitive to connect to it because our house is set so far back.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            In the Southwest our major diesel users are semi-trucks, school buses, and rodeo cowboys hauling their trailers and gear to the rodeo. The price here tends to fluctuate slowly, trailing gas prices in rising and falling. Regular is about $2.05 here, premium $2.50, and diesel about $2.20.

            Prior to the collapse of the price of oil, diesel was consistently about 10 cents more than premium gasoline.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t think diesel is for everyone. If you are driving longer distances where the engine has a chance to warm up to optimum temperature and you are driving a lot then it would make sense. If you are driving mostly short trips such as a few miles then it is not worth paying the price for a diesel and you are more likely to have mechanical issues especially in colder climates. I have asked several experienced mechanics that work on both diesel and gas engines and have asked them if a diesel would make sense for someone that does a lot of shorter trips mostly to the Park & Ride and the grocery store which is 3 miles away. The mechanics agreed that the diesel is not a good choice for me.

    Eventually both the diesel and gasoline will eventually be replaced with cleaner more efficient energy. Any improvements to efficiency and cleanness of gasoline and engine are a stop gap measure to meet current and future government mandates. Even hybrids are not a permanent solution but combined with gasoline and diesel they can improve efficiency.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If Gen 2 Skyactiv engines are going to be 30% more efficient than today’s, then why develop a US diesel at all?

    Note to Mazda: Free advice… just develop a diesel rotary, and consolidate the resources you’re wasting on niche technology as a niche player.

  • avatar
    415s30

    Oh I want the twin turbo diesel Skyactive race engine in a new Miata.

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