Mazda will launch its new Sky family of petrol and diesel engines in Europe in 2012 following their launch in Japan in 2011 as part of its drive to reduce fuel consumption by around 30% between now and 2015.
The Sky-D engine will have the same level of fuel economy as mild hybrids but at considerably less cost, said Mazda president and CEO Takashi Yamanouchi.
The new engines and ever-lighter cars are part of a two-pronged attack on economy and emissions which will, eventually, lead to the automaker using some form of mild hybrid powertrain.
“Hybrids are costly and although sales are stronger in the US and Japan, globally they are not so successful. Of the 60m vehicles built a year, just one per cent are hybrids,” Yamanouchi said.
“That will change and we will be ready. We have electric vehicle research underway at the moment – and remember Mazda launched its first EV 40 years ago.”
Mazda’s European R&D centre in Germany is very important to the company. “The speed of evolution is faster here in Europe than in other markets so we keep in close touch with R&D here,” he said.
Yamanouchi forecast that Mazda will return to profit this quarter thanks to reducing its fixed costs by JPY106.4bn (GBP8.4m) although, like other Japanese carmakers, its suffers from the strength of the yen and exchange rate fluctuations.
“There’s nothing we can do about that and we just have to get on with it,” he said.
“Producing cars in Europe would help, but it’s a very difficult decision to make because its impossible to build locally without the sales volume and we would need at least 300,000 of a single model to make it worth building in Europe,” he said.
The previous generation Mazda 2 (Demio in Japan) was built for Europe in a Ford plant in Spain.