Mazda has been leading the pack when it comes to fuel economy. This year, the Japanese automaker became the first non-electric automaker to reach 100 percent compliance with the 2016 CAFE standards (fleet average of 34.1 mpg). Mazda credits their Skyactiv technologies of pulling this feat off. But future standards may put Mazda in a difficult spot.
During a roundtable last week, Masahiro Moro, CEO of Mazda North American Operations said meeting CAFE standards for 2025 will be very tough.
“For 2021, we are very confident we will meet the CAFE standards. 2025 is another story because the requirement level is very, very high,” said Moro.
At the time of the roundtable, the U.S. Government hadn't cut the 2025 goal of 54.5 mpg. But even achieving between an average of 50 to 52.6 for the fleet will be difficult, especially with Mazda wanting to sell more crossovers. Moro said that the automaker would have to likely embrace some sort of electrification plan, most likely a hybrid system.
But there is another stumbling block Mazda needs to figure out. By 2025, California and nine other states have mandated that 15 percent of new car sales need to be zero-emission vehicles.
“To me, the biggest regulatory headache right now is ZEV,” said Moro.
In the meantime, Moro said that the company would be introducing the second-generation of their Skyactiv technologies in 2017. This will be the main motivator for Mazda to meet the 2021 standards. The key part of the second-generation Skyactiv technologies will be homogenous-charge compression ignition combustion (HCCI) engines that mimic the compression combustion found in diesel engines. We have heard automakers working on this technology and some even announcing that it would be out in few years time, and not happening. Moro admits that HCCI engines are a “very difficult and delicate technology,” so Mazda is trying its best to make sure the engines are durable.
As for the diesel engine in the U.S., Moro said a decision would be coming shortly. Later in the week, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai to Automotive News that the company is still planning a debut of their diesel engine for the U.S. In fact, there is an internal timeline for the launch. But he isn't saying anything about the timeline.