Could the "Zoom Zoom" automaker start making hybrids that go "glug glug glug"? Mazda, known for its fuel-efficient Skyactiv engine line, will be the first Japanese automaker to make a diesel-hybrid vehicle for Japan and Europe.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Mazda may start making its oil-burning hybrids as soon as 2016, and the powertrain may reach fuel efficiency levels of as much as 95 miles per gallon (one the more lenient Japanese driving cycle). That'd make such a vehicle line about 30 percent more fuel-efficient than standard diesels and about eight percent more fuel efficient that the Toyota Prius C compact hybrid (known as the Aqua in Japan). Mazda has been dismissive of hybrid and electric powertrains, instead focusing on Skyactiv technology to maximize fuel efficiency from conventional gas-powered engines.
Diesel powertrains account for about half of the light-duty vehicles sold in Europe each year, while Japan's diesel sales of 76,000 vehicles last year were about three times as many as were sold there in 2012.
In January, Mazda said that it would delay the introduction of its Skyactiv-D diesel engine from what was to be a spring 2014 debut. The reason was to fine-tune the engine's performance/fuel economy balance. Mazda representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from AutoblogGreen about the diesel hybrids.