Dateline Diesel: Mazda Continues Development of North America–Bound Oil-Burner

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The North American arrival of Mazda’s Skyactiv-D diesel engine was initially delayed until the spring of 2014, but an official communiqué from Mazda in January reset the timetable. The release said we’d see the engine when the “right balance between fuel economy and Mazda-appropriate driving performance” was achieved. We caught up with Mazda at the Detroit Grand Prix, where the maker was preparing its innovative diesel racer for competition in the United Sports Car Championship Prototype class, and asked for an update on the situation.

Predictably, most of the Mazda folks in the paddock either feigned ignorance or referred us up the chain of command; the most concrete statement given was a decidedly noncommittal “maybe next year.” Addressing our concern about waning interest in the project, company officials later assured us that the automaker “is absolutely committed to launching a diesel in the North American market” but needed to be sure that such a car would drive the way a Mazda is supposed to drive.

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Those who have been following the story may remember that Mazda’s original intention was to bring the 2.2-liter diesel (which we drove almost two years ago) to market in the U.S. without the aid of expensive exhaust aftertreatment solutions like urea injection, but company officials told us “no solutions have been ruled out at this point.” Mazda also contends “it would damage the brand to bring it out before it’s right.” While we certainly appreciate such a statement, at this point we’re just hoping the diesel comes stateside before the next product cycle.

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