Mazda reported to be working on diesel hybrids
Mazda is developing a diesel-electric hybrid vehicle for select markets. The vehicle is not an electric vehicle with a range extender (EREV), but rather a true diesel vehicle with an electric hybrid drivetrain. This is a rare combination, and to some, seems like the holy grail of green driving, but is it?
Diesel Hybrids Could Make Sense In Some Markets, Not the US
The Japan News reports that the plan is for Mazda to market the vehicle where light oil is less expensive than gasoline. The report says that the objective would be to produce a vehicle that could achieve a fuel efficiency of 40 kilometers per liter of diesel. Currently, Japan’s leading seller, the Aqua (similar to the Prius C in the US) achieves 37 kilometers per liter of gasoline, which is roughly a 50 MPG combined rating on the EPA test cycle.
This 8% improvement in fuel consumption would be a big deal in markets that price diesel lower. In the US it would not be as significant since diesel generally costs 10% to 15% more than regular unleaded fuel. In addition, the vehicle would output more CO2 than the Aqua (Prius C) unless Mazda was the first company to produce an affordable diesel that could match gasoline’s lower CO2 emission per mile.
Many markets have artificially priced diesel much lower than gasoline in a misguided effort to increase overall fuel economy. Over the past decades, those markets suffered increased air pollution as a result. Mazda had high hopes of bringing its Mazda6 diesel to the US, but has had repeated delays. The company has not given a firm reason why the diesel was not marketed here, but we speculate that the diesel did not exceed the outstanding fuel economy of its gasoline Mazda6 in the US EPA test cycle analysis, while also providing similar performance.
Torque News has asked Mazda for more information and will bring it to our readers if any is made available.
Photo of Mazda 2 is not meant to convey the new vehicle design.