Mazda to Bring SkyActiv Diesel to US by 2014 – Smart Move?

Mazda plans to bring the SkyActiv-D diesel engine to the U.S. market as early as 2014. The move is said to help the automaker differentiate itself from other automakers who offer hybrids to increase fuel economy. The turbocharged 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that Mazda currently offers elsewhere makes 173 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

"We think it's a good differentiator," said Jim O'Sullivan, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, to Automotive News during the Detroit auto show. It will give Mazda a reputation, he said, that "Those guys are always doing something a little different."

O’Sullivan didn’t say which model would usher in the SkyActiv-D diesel engine, but the new CX-5 crossover (which is the first vehicle designed and built around Mazda’s SkyActiv philosophy) is expected to debut the oil-burner in the U.S. The CX-5 with the SkyActiv-G gas engine will go on sale in March. Mazda expects the diesel engine to achieve around 30 percent better fuel economy than the 29 combined mpg of the gas engine.

The all-new Mazda6 sedan is also expected to offer the SkyActiv-D engine in some markets. It is expected to go on sale by the end of this year in the U.S. O’Sullivan was mum on whether the U.S. was included as one of those markets.

Mazda sees Volkswagen’s success with diesel engines in North America and noted that the German automaker has the diesel market to itself – at least at its price point.

"Volkswagen, I honestly believe, gets incremental business above and beyond other brands because they do have a diesel, and they buy Volkswagens only because they have it," said O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan also told Automotive News that he didn’t think offering diesel engines would bring double-digit gains, but Mazda could see “significant” incremental increases for high-volume models.

Do you think Mazda is making the right move by bringing the SkyActiv D diesel engine to the U.S. market in light of the fuel price premium in the states? Do you think O’Sullivan is right that diesel engines will bring more interest to the brand? Will the diesel engine bring small sales increases, or do you think it will be significant? What vehicles would you want to the SkyActiv diesel engine available in?

Source: Automotive News

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