Skip to main content

Has Mazda’s North American Diesel Ambitions Stalled?

Mazda SkyActiv Prototype Race Car


Heavily popular in much of Europe to the point they would sometimes outpace gasoline engines, diesel powerplants exists as a niche item in North America. Large-scale interest in diesel powerplants in North America was a by-product of high gasoline prices in 2008. Although gas prices have dropped from impairing highs, many auto companies were still committed to offer diesel engine options. Attached to building small, affordable cars, Japanese auto brand Mazda created an uproar in 2012 when they pledged to include a diesel engine as part of their upcoming Mazda6 sedan and CX-5 crossover vehicle for North American consumers. Part of Mazda’s campaign to convince American and Canadian audiences to the effectiveness of their so-called SkyActiv-D engine took place in sports car racing. After three years, there have been signs Mazda’s diesel marketing tool is running out of momentum.

Since May, it has been rumoured the SpeedSource team fielding Mazda’s diesel-powered prototype effort in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship has been pursuing a change in powerplant. For the past two seasons, Speedsource operated a twin-turbocharged version of the Mazda 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D engine inside a Lola-powered LMP2 category machine. With approval from Mazda’s head office in Japan, Speedsource wants to drop the diesel engine in favour of a gasoline engine. It’s been suggested that a modified version of the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder by AER from the 2015 Indy Lights series is being eyed by the team.

The Mazda Prototype was first campaigned in 2014 after the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand Am Series. Unlike Audi and Peugeot who found relatively quick success using diesel engine power, Mazda and SpeedSource effort with the race car resulted in limited celebrations over the 2014 and ongoing 2015 sports car series season. To date, the best effort for the Mazda Prototype with the SkyActiv-D diesel has been a sixth-place finish. For the majority of competition, the struggle has been to keep the diesel-powered prototype car running.

Issues on the track with the SkyActiv-D engine is compounded by the fact Mazda has not yet provided a road vehicle with the diesel powerplant. In Canada, the planned release of the 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D engine was for the spring of last year. As of February of 2015, Car FYI received notice from Mazda that the diesel engine program for production cars is still ongoing with "..further development is required to deliver the right balance between fuel economy and Mazda-appropriate driving performance." Further news on the SkyActiv-D engine’s inclusion on the Mazda6, CX-5 or any other vehicle from the automaker for the United States and Canada has not been provided.


The following video is a 3-D presentation captured at the 2014 Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto of the Mazda prototype show car.



      

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Review

Photo Credit: Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. untitled A companion to the NTT IndyCar Series finale weekend on the streets of Long Beach, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship staged a 26-car race on Saturday consisting of DPi, GTLM and GTD class machines. With the conclusion of the 1-hour, 40-minute Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach sports car event, the overall winner was the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac shared by the driving duo of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani. The victory was a decisive weekend for the Whelen Engineering Racing team that had scored the pole position and went on to take the checkered flag with a 10.95-second gap over the #01 Cadillac fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Kevin Magnussen and Renger van der Zande. Corvette Racing enjoyed a dominant outing in the GTLM category. Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner in the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R beat the #3 car shared by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor. Only three GTLM class vehicles ran at Long Be

Car FYI's 2024 Canadian Automotive Guide: Ferrari

Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A. Product Lineup: 296 GTB, 296 GTS, Portofino M, Purosangue, Roma, Roma Spider, SF90 Spider, SF90 Stradale, SF90 XX Spider, SF90 XX Stradale Overall Brand Impression:  The devotion of the Italian artisans that has kept Ferrari as a premium sports car leader stretches right back to the company’s founder. However, while Enzo Ferrari believed in the construction of pure performance machines in disregard for creature comforts, today’s vehicles are assembled with more consideration of customers seeking luxury alongside supercar power. Despite a long resistance to engaging in the popular crossover category, Ferrari demonstrates a level of concession to the mass market in 2024 by introducing the all-new Purosangue. The Purosangue joins an exciting 2024 Ferrari lineup that also includes the introduction of the brand’s first street legal XX program vehicle. What’s New for 2024:  Every vehicle in Ferrari’s 2024 lineup is a merger of style and power. An auto brand reno

Car FYI's 2024 Canadian Automotive Guide: Fiat

Photo Credit: Stellantis Product Lineup: 500e, 500x Overall Brand Impression:  When Fiat reentered North American in 2011, there were high hopes that the Italian car make’s small yet stylish products would establish a healthy niche. Although the distinctive design of the Fiat 500 can still attract admiring stares, the brand has amounted to a very tiny share of the market with the 500x crossover being the only product available in recent years. The Fiat 500 subcompact’s reintroduction to the United States and Canada in 2024 as an entirely electric model line could allow this Stellantis brand to gain new relevance among motorists. What’s New for 2024:  The subcompact Fiat 500 returns to the United States and Canada for 2024 exclusively as a battery electric vehicle. Assembled within a tidy, elegant Italian-styled package, the 2024 Fiat 500e features a powertrain consisting of a 42-kWh battery pack as well as an electric motor generating 118 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. With a ma