2009 Mazda Mazda6Enlarge Photo
"We believe that improving today's conventional engines at a low cost is the most effective way to get fuel-efficient cars to proliferate," said Mazda research and development head Seita Kanai to reporters in Tokyo. In response to the growing list of automakers offering gas/electric hybrids, Mazda intends to use a new 2.0-liter clean diesel engine, under development, to match hybrid vehicles' mileage. They say their new diesels will feature simpler mechanicals and lower materials/production costs than hybrids.
Pro-hybrid automakers like Toyota have said that cleaning the exhaust stream from diesel engines is too costly and complicated. By nature of their higher combustion temperatures, diesel engines generate more nitrogen oxides. Current means of reducing NOx levels to clean air standards means complex selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and urea injection in some diesel vehicles (Mercedes E320 BlueTEC, Audi Q7 3.o TDI). But Mazda claims it's developed a new diesel particulate filter that eliminates the need for additional exhaust scrubbing. They also say the new diesel will benefit from their proprietary single-nanotechnology catalytic converter, which significantly reduces the amount of expensive precious metals needed for production.
Mazda has long been a proponent of lightweight vehicles, an important - and oft neglected - factor in fuel efficiency. They plan to continue their vehicle lightening programs while maintaining or increasing safety. They are also developing advanced automatic transmissions (we'd put our money on some sort of dual-clutch automated manual) to increase mpg.
[source: Automotive News]