DETROIT — Electrified vehicles are on the horizon for Mazda.
When they arrive, don't expect boring creations. Even in an electrified age, Mazda's determination to build fun-to-drive vehicles won't change, said Masahiro Moro, CEO of Mazda North American Operations.
The automaker is stacking the building blocks now for an electrified future. Its Skyactiv-X engine, slated for a 2019 rollout, is a key piece in Mazda's effort to curb CO2 emissions.
Moro said Skyactiv-X will be an "important base engine to add electrification" to the Mazda lineup.
The "base engine has to be efficient first, then we are able to add hybrid on top of that," he said. Moro added that Mazda is preparing "a pure battery EV" to comply with California's zero-emission vehicle mandate.
He said it'll be up to engineers to rise to the challenge and retain Mazda's fun factor in an electrified vehicle.
"Our engineers will enjoy another new challenge to make an EV to be a true Mazda with driving performance. That's what customers expect from Mazda," Moro told Automotive News.
Amid the EV effforts, he said, Mazda will continue to pull every bit of potential from the internal combustion engine.
Mazda — with its lineup of crossovers, sedans, a sporty hatchback and the MX-5 Miata roadster — has been a perennial leader in fuel economy. The EPA listed the company as having the highest overall "manufacturer adjusted fuel economy" for the 2016 model year — the fifth year in a row Mazda led the industry. The company said its overall average fuel economy was 29.6 mpg, which improved by 0.4 mpg over the previous year.
The automaker's commitment to efficient gasoline engines will continue with Skyactiv-X. Combining characteristics of diesel engines and conventional gasoline engines, Skyactiv-X uses spark plug ignition "to control compression ignition, resulting in dramatic improvements across a range of important performance indicators."