Mazda is a company known for going its own way on just about everything, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when it announced the fuel-sippingest version of the 2014 Mazda6 mid-size sedan would come with a diesel engine. This breaks the mold: until the announcement, Japanese manufacturers used hybrids as fuel-economy leaders, while Europeans went with diesel. This would be the first time in decades a Japanese manufacturer had offered a diesel engine. We had driven the European version of the Mazda6 diesel, and even with that limited experience, we were anxious for a U.S. model.
Looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer though. According to a report in Automotive News, delays in certifying the diesel engine are forcing Mazda to push back its release date from late this year to late-spring of 2014. In a letter to employees obtained by Automotive News, Mazda said the delay to the Skyactiv-D 2.2-liter turbodiesel was to “accommodate final emissions testing and certification.”
Exactly what is causing the delay is unclear. U.S. diesel emissions are tougher than just about anywhere in the world, including Europe, and have been a primary factor discouraging many manufacturers from selling diesel models to the U.S. market. It’s widely rumored (but never confirmed) that the second-generation Acura TSX was slated to come with a diesel engine, but that plan was thwarted at the last minute due to emissions certification problems.
Mazda, however, isn’t giving up. In the letter, Robert Davis, senior vice president of U.S. operations for Mazda North American Operations wrote, “I know we had discussed it being in showrooms before the end of the year, and everyone involved in the program is disappointed it will not be, but final certification testing–the results of which are looking encouraging–is taking longer than we had initially expected.”
To help ease the pain of delaying the diesel, dealers will get an additional 4,000 gasoline powered Mazda6 sedans. This will surely ease the burden, as sales of the Mazda6 have more than doubled compared to sales last year.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)