Mazda is preparing to introduce its first series-produced electric car, but it's not sending the diesel engine to the automotive graveyard. The company remains committed to turbodiesel technology, and it will take its efficiency to the next level when it introduces a new range of engines in 2020.
"We are sticking to diesel engines. In 2020, we have a new approach to diesel engines. We will show you how clean and very efficient diesel engines can be," pledged Christian Schultze, the head of research and development for Mazda's European division, in an interview with British magazine Autocar.
He declined to provide specific details about the breakthrough that made a cleaner, more efficient diesel engine possible. Asked about how the engine compared to SkyActiv-X, the carmaker's newest and most innovative gasoline-powered engine, he pointed out "there are not so many differences between [gasoline] and diesel."
His announcement falls in line with Mazda's belief that it's crucially important to consider real-world emissions over the life cycle of a car, not just local emissions. The company has realistically stated the internal combustion engine -- whether it burns gasoline or diesel -- will "continue to be the base power for 85 percent of all cars up until 2035." It might join forces with a 48-volt electrical system, or it might be part of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, but it will still be around in 15 years. To that end, it's important to keep improving the technology, and not to prematurely pen its obituary.
"We hope governments wake up and see that electrification is one way but there are others, too," Schultze concluded, adding that SkyActiv-X is a step in the right direction. Mazda will release more details about its next turbodiesel engine in the coming months, but it's too early to tell whether it will available in the United States, where demand for oil-burning cars has hit rock bottom. As of 2019, the only diesel-powered Mazda sold in America is an upmarket variant of the CX-5 (pictured).