Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto is leading an electrification push that should help the Japanese automaker slash its CO2 footprint and avoid paying big fines in Europe. A recently announced emissions-pooling deal with Toyota will also help. In addition, Mazda is working with Toyota on electrification technologies, but Marumoto says "unique" engines will remain part of his brand's identity. He discussed the challenges Mazda faces with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Andrea Malan.
One of Mazda's main challenges in Europe is to meet tougher CO2 emissions targets. JATO Dynamics estimates that Mazda's 2018 CO2 level was 135.2 grams per kilometer, and the fleet total needs to be 95g/km by 2021. Why is Mazda so far from the target?
There are two reasons why our emissions are above 130g/km. First, our best-selling model is the CX-5 midsize SUV. Second, the diesel mix of our smaller models, the Mazda2 and Mazda3, has been diminishing. That is why we are quite far from what we planned five years ago.
Will Mazda manage to hit the target in 2020 and 2021? How will it do that?
First, the Skyactiv-X engine we are launching this year emits less than 100g/km of CO2. [The Skyactiv-X uses a technology called spark-controlled compression ignition, which Mazda says combines the best traits of diesel and gasoline engines.] Second, the first Mazda battery-electric vehicle will hit the market next year. Finally, we will introduce plug-in hybrid models from 2021 or 2022. So we will eventually achieve the target, although we will have some difficulties in 2020.
If you see next year that Mazda will not be able to hit the CO2 target, will you pay the fines or will you curtail sales of the higher-emission vehicles?
We will have to balance the impact of possible CO2 penalties with our sales targets. But we also have to consider the sustainability of our dealer network.
When will we drive a car with the Skyactiv-X engine?
That will happen within this calendar year.