We noted Mazda's somewhat unusual message to New York Auto Show attendees yesterday, the one that said: Not Electric. Not Hybrid. Not A Drag To Drive and thought we should try to figure out why Mazda is going after today's electric and hybrids vehicles with this kind of attack message. The short version: electric and hybrid vehicles won't be fun to drive until Mazda makes one.
That's what Robert Davis, Mazda's senior vice president of quality, research and development, told AutoblogGreen. He said that Mazda is working on these sorts of vehicles, running a Demio (Mazda2) electric test program and working with Toyota on hybrid technology, but, "we would first use our own most efficient internal combustion engines before we'd go to that technology." Those engines, are, of course, the Skyactiv ones. Davis said:
Putting efficient Skyactiv engines into Mazda vehicles means that, "You can have hybrid-type efficiency and still have cars that are fun to drive," Davis said, adding:
Our strategy has been the same strategy since 2008, which is to advance the base technology first and to allow us to apply that base technology across all of our models. Our base internal combustion engine technology is driven through Skyactiv, and this is the launch in North America. We felt it was more important to have that technology fully developed before we add electrical devices to then improve it as we go forward. We're trying to apply it to as many people as we can, so we have a brand-based policy instead of a model-based policy.
Mazda may be all about the zoom-zoom, just not when it comes to adding electricity to your powertrain.
Part of the sensitivity we're looking at is the amount of hype around electrics and the reality that electric is going to be part of the solution, but internal combustion is a much bigger part of the solution. There are still large gains that can be made in the efficiency of internal combustion that need to be addressed and talked about to move the whole issue of overall efficiency forward.