Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – Mazda Motor Corp. says at the auto show here today it will offer its Sky-D direct-injection diesel engine in the U.S. in 2012.

Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes says the launch vehicle will be a "midsized sedan," and fuel economy is pegged at 43 mpg (5.5 L/100 km).

The only midsize sedan Mazda currently sells in the U.S. is the Mazda6.

Barnes says the auto maker’s small-volume status and global reach were considered in deciding to pursue a diesel when so many other auto makers have dropped plans for diesel engines in the U.S.

Despite Mazda’s intention to eventually mate its new Sky-G and Sky-D DI engines to hybrid-electric technology licensed from Toyota Motor Corp., "hybrids are just going to be a little tiny portion of the market, best-case scenario, even if you're at 20% (hybrid-industry share)," Barnes says.

If Mazda builds about 1 million vehicles on a global basis, 20% represents only 200,000 units, he says. "If you can affect all million vehicles you build, you can have a greater net gain for saving the planet, for saving fuel, etc."

Mazda plans to incrementally add technology to the Sky-G and Sky-D engines to further improve their fuel economy, such as a stop/start system and regenerative braking.

Regarding Mazda’s recently announced agreement to license Toyota’s hybrid technology, Barnes says that choice over Mazda's equity-holder Ford Motor Co. made sense because both Mazda and Toyota are Japanese companies.

Mazda is trying to launch a hybrid in Japan quickly because of favorable tax regulations, he says.

When asked if Mazda would use Ford's hybrid technology for the Mazda6, which is built in the U.S., Barnes declines to comment.