Other automakers may be turning away from diesels, but Mazda is just getting started. A diesel-powered CX-5 is expected to arrive in the U.S. later this year, and according to Mazda’s North American CEO, the model will account for a considerable portion of overall sales for the crossover.
Mazda is targeting the diesel engine to make up at least 10 percent of U.S. sales for the CX-5, Masahiro Moro said at a media roundtable with Automotive News. If Mazda can reach that percentage, he says, the automaker can justify expanding the diesel engine to other models in the lineup.
Mazda has sold a diesel CX-5 outside of the U.S. since 2012, but this fall will mark the first time the vehicle is sold in North America. The model will come with a Skyactiv-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine that has been tuned to meet strict emissions standards in the region. Mazda expects the engine to receive EPA approval in “the coming months.”
“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 said of the diesel version of the crossover.
Initially, the diesel engine will be offered on higher-end CX-5 variants such as the Grand Touring. Later, the engine could be used on lower-trim models, Moro confirmed. Pricing for the diesel CX-5 has not yet been announced.
Diesel engines have been the object of scrutiny after Volkswagen’s emissions scandal. Recently, Mercedes-Benz decided to drop diesels for 2017 citing the increased effort required to certify these engines in the U.S. But Moro doesn’t seem too worried about any possible changes in the way people view diesels. “I don’t intend to change American consumer mindset to diesel,” Moro said. “We would like to provide a choice for customers who really appreciate those technologies.”
Last year, Mazda sold 112,235 CX-5 crossovers in the U.S. To hit its magic 10 percent target for diesels, the automaker would have to sell around 11,220, a rather modest number.