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In a meeting with reporters in Tokyo, Mazda Motor Corp said today that it is working on a diesel engine that is cheaper and will offer the same fuel-efficiency as hybrid cars. The engine is scheduled to debut in 2011. The company’s R&D Chief Seita Kanai said that Mazda has a target of raising its global fleet’s fuel-economy by 30 percent by 2015.

Instead of relying on expensive hybrid electric systems, Kanai said that Mazda will focus on clean diesels, advances in internal combustion engines, automatic transmissions and weight reduction methods.

Kanai said that Mazda is currently working on a 2.0L clean diesel engine that will be as fuel-efficient as a 660cc gasoline minicar or a “mild” hybrid car. He said that Mazda is also working on ways to cut the weight of new models after 2011 by more than 220 lb.

While hybrid lovers like Toyota argue that emissions regulations in the future would require costly development of diesel engines, Kanai says that Mazda’s new diesel engine would cost less. As for costs in reducing the weight of their cars, Kanai said that the ”norm in the industry is to ‘buy’ weight reduction at a cost, but we won’t do that.”
 

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FlipFlop

Just a few weeks ago, Mazda was adamant that diesel engines would be enough to satisfy its needs for more fuel-efficient cars - but now, in a major shift in strategy, the carmaker will be embracing hybrids and electric powertrains in the coming years.

The change in heart was revealed by Mazda's CEO Takashi Yamanouchi last week at the New York Auto Show. Speaking with Automotive News, Yamanouchi confirmed that Mazda will have hybrid and electric powertrains in its lineup by 2015, although the company will still be focusing on improving the efficiency of both its diesel and petrol engines.

Furthermore, Yamanouchi was confident enough to state that Mazda's next-generation of petrol engines will achieve the same fuel-economy as current diesels, and that its diesels will achieve the same fuel economy as existing hybrids.

Interestingly, despite the close links between Ford and Mazda, Yamanouchi claimed that new hybrid and electric technology will be "unique" to Mazda - although "if Ford desires, [Mazda] will be ready to see its technology".

Despite the shift in strategy, petrol and diesel engines will still play a large role in the company. The reasoning is that with hybrids and electric vehicles Mazda will be able to satisfy almost 90% of the car-buying public, and not just a limited segment of the market.
 

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Update



Mazda is seriously considering a 4-cylinder diesel for the CX crossover for the U.S. market in efforts to boost fuel-economy without sacrificing performance, reports Road&Track.

The 2.2L diesel inline 4-cylinder in the European 5-passenger CX-7 makes 170-hp and a peak torque of 295 lb-ft. That’s enough to get it from 0-62 mph in 11.3 seconds. In comparison, the 2.3L direct-injection gasoline engine makes 260-hp, allowing the CX-7 to go from 0-62 mph in 8.2 seconds.

If the decision to bring diesel to the U.S. is approved, a Mazda official says that it would be the company’s next-generation diesel called SKY-D that would make it here. It is a little bit more powerful than the 2.2L diesel unit and would most likely be offered with the company’s new dual-clutch automated gearbox. The 6-speed manual may also be retained.
 

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Mazda 6


If there's one thing we're clamoring for here in the U.S., it's more diesel engines in passenger cars. Mazda will soon be answering our cries, as it plans to launch its all-new SKY-D powertrain in its "next-generation mid-sized car" (read: Mazda6) sometime in 2012.

The big news about this engine is that it's expected to achieve up to 43 miles per gallon on the highway, trumping the current class-leader of fuel economy in the mid-size sedan department, the Ford Fusion Hybrid. This powerplant will be mated to a brand new six-speed automatic transmission, called SKY-Drive, and will not only meet Tier 2 Bin 5 regulations, but will meet North America's strict emissions standards.

In addition to the SKY-D diesel engine, Mazda has said that it plans to build a new SKY-G gasoline engine that when coupled to the SKY-Drive six-speed automatic will provide 15 percent better fuel economy than the its petrol poweplants currently in use. Hit the jump to read the full details in Mazda's press release.
 
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