Mazda’s New Diesel is Almost Here . . . Maybe . . .

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Despite the VW debacle, Mazda is going ahead with plans to offer a diesel engine in the CX-5 at least and – depending on how it goes – perhaps other Mazda models as well.

The Japanese company ultimately hopes the diesel engine will account for at least 10 percent of U.S. sales of the redesigned crossover. That would be just over 11,000 cars, based on current CX-5 sales (Mazda sold 112,235 CX-5s last year).

Mazda North American Operations President and CEO Masahiro Moro said if that bar is reached, it would be reason enough to expand the availability of diesel engines to other vehicles in the company’s lineup.

“CX-5 will be a very good indicator for us to understand where we have the opportunity and what kind of people come to buy those new technologies,” Moro told reporters Wednesday at a media roundtable.

The CX-5, which is Mazda’s best-selling vehicle, will be offered with a 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D diesel engine starting this fall. The redesigned, second-generation CX-5 recently went on sale in the U.S. equipped with a Skyactiv 2.5-liter gasoline engine.

But there is a wild card. The diesel engine is still undergoing certification tests by the ayatollahs at the EPA.

Mazda said it expects to receive approval to sell it in “the coming months.”

Fingers crossed.

Mercedes decided to quit selling its diesels precisely because of difficulties/expenses associated with placating the EPA ayatollahs.

Another bit of bad news is that – at least initially – is that the diesel engine will only be available in the top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim, which has a base price just under $30k. 

“Starting from high and expanding, I think, is the right way,” Motor said. Which seems odd given that the main draw of a diesel in a car is its economy – which one assumes includes the cost of buying the thing. If the diesel-powered CX-5 costs thousands more than an otherwise the same but gas-engined CX-5, it hardly makes sense to spring for the diesel in order to save money.

Mazda may have made a big mistake here.

Of course, BMW and Mercedes and Audi already use the same strategy. But they are high-end brands and people buy their cars for every reason except saving money. In a BMW or Benz, the diesel “sells” are extended range and abundant low-end power, which diesels deliver in abundance.

Mileage – and cost – are peripheral issues.

But what about Mazda buyers? Who one assumes do care about cost most of all?   


Moro said Mazda is not aiming to “change” consumers’ minds about diesel engines but offer an alternative for those who are already interested in the option.


Mazda has successfully sold the diesel version of the CX-5 outside of the U.S. since the vehicle’s introduction in 2012 – but hasn’t been able to offer it here because of EPA rigmarole.

Here’s to hoping we don’t get Lucy-holding-the-football-for Charlie-Brown’d again.

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