Diesel power has traditionally proved a tough sell in the United States, at least among light-vehicle buyers. If it doesn’t belong on a worksite, chances are a vehicle’s engine choices have remained gasoline-only since the model’s debut.
While the high-mileage technology suffered a black, sooty eye from the Volkswagen affair, several automakers are gambling on Americans wantÂ of higher torque figures and improved fuel economy â€” the rosy promises of diesel motivation. Mazda, the only automaker without a hybrid or electric vehicle in its stable, plans to add a diesel CX-5 to its gas-only U.S. fleet later this year.
The automaker knows exactly how many it wants Americans to buy. If this litmus test on wheels reaches the pre-determined mark, expect to see more zoom-zoom diesels appearing in local showrooms.
Speaking in Chicago yesterday,Â Mazda North American Operations President and CEO Masahiro Moro said the diesel bar is set at 10 percent of all U.S. CX-5 sales. Going by 2016 sales figures, that means just over 11,000 units.
While not yet approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency, the automaker expects to receive the green light “in the coming months,” Automotive News reports. The 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D engine is already offered in overseas models. We haven’t heard exact figures for the North American unit but, based on foreign specifications, it could boast 173 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.
Mazda will initially only offer the diesel CX-5 in high-spec Grand Touring trim when its appears this fall, but Moro claimed that could change over time.
â€œStarting from high and expanding, I think, is the right way,” he said. If the diesel proves popular in the brand’s best-selling vehicle, Mazda will take it as a hint to offer the engine in other models.
“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,” said Moro.
While General Motors is following a similar path with the introduction of a diesel Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain for 2018, those models will see the engine become available on a range of trim levels. Already, GM has added diesel power to its midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. In those models, the technology boats a 9-percent take rate.[Image: Mazda]