While the automaker occasionally tinkers with hybrids, Mazda feels there are other methods to increase fuel economy that are more efficient than a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle.
“We see improving the mileage of the basic engine as our top priority,” said Seita Kanai, director of Mazda’s research and development.
In order to do so, the company plans on stripping its cars of unnecessary weight, while simultaneously improving the efficiency of the “standard” powertrain. Both Europe and Japan receive versions of the new Mazda 3 equipped with both a start/stop feature and a dual-clutch transmission – two technologies Mazda may spread throughout its portfolio.
Kanai believes hybrids and electric vehicles will be a “niche market” in 2015, although the advent of inexpensive hybrids – exemplified by the new 2010 Honda Insight – has the company’s leadership worried.
“We see [the Insight] as a threat,” said Kanai. “We don’t have the strength to get sucked into a hybrid price war.”
Albeit the Mazda Tribute is offered to commercial clients as a hybrid, its system is identical to that of the Ford Escape Hybrid and largely engineered by Ford. Mazda’s only hybrids that have been engineered in-house have been a pair of hydrogen-fueled demonstration vehicles.
The second, built from a Mazda 5, is now being leased in small quantities in Japan.
Source: Detroit News