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Mazda Again Delaying U.S. Diesel Launch

Performance not up to snuff, maker hints.

by on Jan.10, 2014

Mazda's SkyActive-D diesel has plenty of diesel for its racing program, but apparently not enough for a production model.

When Mazda unveiled its SkyActiv technology a few years back, the maker boasted that its gasoline-powered SkyActiv-G technology would deliver the fuel economy of a diesel. But it also promised that it would soon add a SkyActiv diesel that would yield the mileage of a hybrid.

Sadly, it seems, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer to put the SkyActiv-D to the test, Mazda announcing yet another delay in bringing the new diesel engine to market.

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That’s a big disappointment to oil-burner fans, especially with Mazda slated to become the first Japanese manufacturer to offer a modern diesel at a time when a growing number of European and even U.S. makers are reentering the segment.

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Diesel Rebound for Volkswagen

Maker moves 100,000 “oil burners” in 2013.

by on Dec.23, 2013

Audi of America CEO Scott Keogh with two of the new diesel models the maker has launched for 2014.

Despite falling sales at its flagship VW brand, the Volkswagen Group of America has defied naysayers who have long argued that U.S. motorists won’t buy diesels – moving more than 100,000 Volkswagen Audi “oil burners” during 2013.

It marks the first time the Volkswagen Group has reached this milestone in a calendar year, according to Mark McNabb, Volkswagen of America’s new chief operating officer.  Volkswagen and Audi currently offer 12 different TDI Clean Diesel powered models in the United States, including three new models launched by the upscale brand for 2014.

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“Selling more than 100,000 TDI Clean Diesel vehicles is a significant milestone for Volkswagen Group of America,” McNabb said. “We’re excited to see the increasing numbers of customers able to enjoy the reliability, durability, fuel-efficiency and power of the clean diesel engine.”

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Hyundai Nixes U.S. Diesel

Honda also puts diesel on backburner.

by on Nov.20, 2013

Hyundai is hot on hydrogen, cold on diesel. An early fuel cell mock-up is shown here at the maker's Korean R&D center.

While other manufacturers are considering wider use of diesel engines because of the fuel-economy they offer, Hyundai, says it plans to stick with gasoline engines in the vehicles it sells in North America.

John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America chief executive officer, said a majority of consumers have a hard time getting around the costs of a diesel vehicle and the extra expense of diesel fuel.

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“When you look at the extra cost of diesel (fuel), it wipes out the benefits of extra (mileage). Then when you add in the $3,000 cost for a diesel (engine), it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of consumers,” Krafcik told reporters during a briefing at the Hyundai Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Similar concerns were raised by Honda Motor Co. officials who this week cautioned TheDetroitBureau.com that, at least for now, they’re holding plans for a U.S. diesel on the backburner.

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Mazda Diesel Delayed 6 Months

Engine needs more time for “testing and certification.”

by on Sep.13, 2013

The diesel version of the new Mazda6 is expected to top 45 mpg.

Mazda and diesel fans alike are in for a disappointment. The maker has confirmed it is pushing back by about six months the planned introduction of its new Mazda6 SkyActiv-D model as it completes “testing and certification” of what had been on tap to become the only diesel powertrain offered by a Japanese automaker on a model sold in the U.S.

After decades on the backburner, diesel power has begun to gain ground rapidly in the U.S. market, and even with the delay, the total number of vehicles equipped with the technology is expected to double during the 2014 model-year, according to various analysts.

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“The on-sale date for Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D clean-diesel has been moved to late-Spring 2014, to accommodate final emissions testing and certification,” said Mazda in a statement e-mailed to TheDetroitBureau.com. The maker said, however, that it is “pleased with the ongoing development” and that more information “will be available closer to the on-sale date.”

The news will not have any impact on Mazda’s diesel-powered race campaign, and the motor sports program has been scoring some impressive podium appearances – a significant success for a program based around an all-new engine.

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BMW’s Newest Diesel, 2014 328d, Debuting in NY

Latest in a wave of “oil-burners” hitting U.S. market.

by on Mar.14, 2013

BMW will add the new diesel 328d model.

With the apparent embrace of America’s increasingly mileage-minded buyers, German makers are flooding the U.S. market with an assortment of new diesel offerings, BMW to join the fray when it reveals the 328d sedan at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

The compact sedan will catch the spotlight alongside several other new models making their first appearances in North America, including the BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, along with the Concept Active Tourer that anchored the BMW display at the Paris Motor Show last autumn.

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The German maker also plans some significant news on the technology front, including the ability to add mobile WiFi service in some of its products, along with a new eCall emergency call service that can even advise first responders if a crash might result in serious injuries.

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Chrysler to Add High-Mileage Diesel for Ram 1500

Ford softening its opposition to diesels, as well.

by on Feb.14, 2013

The Ram 1500 will begin offering a 3.0-liter turbodiesel.

Chrysler will add a diesel option for the Ram 1500 pickup, making it the only automaker to offer the high-mileage technology on a half-ton truck. It could be a significant additional inducement the announcement coming barely a month after the Ram 1500 was named North American Truck of the Year.

But Chrysler may not be the only maker to market a diesel standard-duty pickup for long. General Motors is reportedly considering such an option for its newly redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models, while Toyota and Nissan may add diesels when their redesigned Tundra and Titan models reach market.

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Meanwhile, diesels are rapidly gaining ground in other market segments. Chevrolet last week unveiled its new Cruze Diesel, the first passenger car model from General Motors’ largest brand to offer the powertrain technology since 1996. Mazda will add a diesel for its new Mazda6 later this year. And even Ford’s long-standing resistance to diesel power in U.S. passenger cars finally may be crumbling.

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GM Brings Back the “Oil Burner” with the new Cruze Diesel

It’s Detroit maker’s first diesel since 1986.

by on Feb.07, 2013

You might not notice there's a diesel in this car but for the small 2.0 TD badge.

There are some folks – including a few inside General Motors – who believe GM almost singlehandedly killed off the American diesel.  For now, however, the question is whether it can bring the technology back to life, or more precisely, can it make the diesel part of the U.S. automotive mainstream again.

It’s certainly getting ready to try. The maker’s Chevrolet division is giving media and buyers alike a look at the new Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel – the 2.0 TD for short – at this month’s Chicago Auto Show. It’s the first time the maker has produced a diesel-powered passenger car for the U.S. market since 1986.

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Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in the wake of the twin Mideast oil shocks, diesels were all the rage, but as fuel prices leveled off, the technology often derided as “oil burners” began to lose momentum. It didn’t help that a version GM used in its Oldsmobile line was prone to catastrophic failure.

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Ford Latest to Jump on Diesel Bandwagon

Maker will add 3.2-liter I-5 for new Transit van.

by on Dec.11, 2012

Ford's new Transit van will be offered with the maker's new Power Stroke I-5 diesel.

Ford Motor Co. has done something of an about-face on diesel power, the maker deciding to introduce a 3.2-liter “oil-burner” for the new Transit van it will launch in the U.S. market next year.

It will mark the first time Ford has offered a diesel in a van for the American market since phasing out its Power Stroke V8 in 2010. And with the announcement Ford becomes the latest in a still-small but fast-growing list of manufacturers hoping to boost mileage – and build demand – with high-mileage diesels.  Mazda last month confirmed long-expected plans to offer a diesel in its new Mazda6 sedan.

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Ford has long waivered on making a commitment to diesel, new Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields only last month saying there were no plans to offer the technology in its U.S. passenger car line-up. Instead, Ford has been focusing on its distinctive EcoBoost engines and an expanding line-up of battery-based powertrains.  But it appears the maker saw an opening – and growing demand – in the commercial sector for diesel power.

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Drivers Want – and Will Pay – for More Efficient Cars

Two new studies show growing interest in alternative power.

by on Sep.13, 2012

Ford will offer both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of its new C-Max "people-mover."

A growing number of Americans are demanding not only more fuel-efficient cars but those that run on cleaner alternatives to gasoline – and they’re willing to pay, according to a pair of new studies.

That could be good news for manufacturers fretting about the cost of meeting the government’s strict new Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, mandates requiring an average 34.5 mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025.

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“Cost is a key issue,” especially with more radical alternatives such as electric propulsion, said Phil Murtaugh, the head of California-based Coda, a start-up in the emerging market for electric vehicles.

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Demand Surging for Diesels, Hybrids

Motorists look for cleaner, cheaper options.

by on Apr.18, 2012

Porsche's Cayenne is the latest model to go diesel.

Sales of vehicles that run on something other than gasoline climbed significantly during the first quarter of 2012, with an especially big surge in demand for hybrids and high-mileage diesel products.  The increase mirrors the rapid run-up in the price of gasoline – and has been buoyed by the increased availability of new diesel, battery and other vehicles able to use alternative energy sources.

The Toyota Prius, the world’s best-selling gas-electric model, set an all-time U.S. sales record in March.  And during the first quarter, American hybrid car sales overall increased 37.2%.  The emerging plug-in electric car market saw a sales increase of 323% after a slow and shaky start in 2012. By comparison, the overall automobile market increased 13.4% in 2012, according to new sales information compiled by HybridCars.Com and Baum and Associates.

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“With higher fuel prices, Americans are seeking more fuel efficient cars so it’s understandable that diesel and hybrid cars are showing such impressive sales increases,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

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