YOKOHAMA, Japan — Cleaner, sportier diesel engines were a big part of Mazda’s Skyactiv platform overhaul that began taking shape in 2011.
But five years later, the long-delayed diesels still haven’t hit the U.S., and there is no sign they will arrive before Mazda moves on to its second generation of Skyactiv technologies in 2019.
Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Masamichi Kogai said Mazda still plans an American diesel debut — and even has an internal timeline for the launch. But he is not saying when.
“We are not giving up,” Kogai said of the U.S. diesel ambition during the July 14 unveiling here of the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback midcycle refresh. “We have a timeline.”
Kogai, 61, declined to give specifics about the timing but said he wants the diesel drivetrain introduced stateside while he’s still at the helm.
Hiroyuki Matsumoto, general manager of Mazda’s vehicle development division, said he is confident engineers will achieve the right balance of diesel driving performance and clean emissions that so far has eluded Mazda for the U.S. market.
Mazda has been stymied in its Skyactiv product plans by stringent U.S. emissions standards. U.S. rules require an emissions treatment that saps driving performance from the otherwise spunky clean diesel Skyactiv-D engines, which have proved to be a big hit in other markets, including Japan.
“Environmental performance must be compatible with driving dynamics,” Kogai said.
The next-generation Skyactiv technologies, dubbed Skyactiv 2, will encompass an overhaul of the entire platform, far more than just the engines, Matsumoto said. He pledged to introduce the second phase by March 2019.
Skyactiv 2 will pick up where the first generation left off, focusing on lightweighting, better ride and handling, and improved fuel economy, he said.
A new gasoline engine now under development will be 30 percent more efficient than the current Skyactiv powerplants, the company said.
Mazda engineers expect to reach the new levels by cranking up the engine’s compression ratio to 18:1 from the current 14:1. Higher engine compression tends to improve fuel economy by allowing a leaner mix of fuel to combust.