Not long ago, the premium German manufacturers said they were going to push diesels instead of hopping on the hybrid train, but we see where that's gone: Porsche has hybrids, BMW is pushing its coming hybrids, and Mercedes is oozing its hybrid desires everywhere. Of course, all three brands have diesels, too, but they seem to be hedging their bets that gas-electric is the wave of the future... at least for North America. Now, Mazda has gone on record with CNN, saying that it is dedicated to diesels and weight reduction, and the company plans to have a diesel that can post mild hybrid-like fuel economy numbers by 2011.
The 2.0-liter clean diesel that Mazda has in mind would sip gas like the 660-cc gas engine in a kei car, and be as efficient as a hybrid like those using GM's BAS system or BMW's Efficient Dynamics. The diesel will employ Mazda's single-nanotechnology system, which can allow for fewer precious metals in catalytic converters, and a newly developed particulate filter that alone can do the job of additional treatment systems.
What's special about the plan is that Mazda says its diesel engine will be cheaper, and the weight reduction will "be achieved at lower cost." Mazda's R&D chief said, "We believe that improving today's conventional engines at a low cost is the most effective way to get fuel-efficient cars to proliferate." If Mazda really can sell a lighter, more efficient production car with proven technology, then sign us up. We'll even put up with that happy-face grille...