Mazda’s Hybrid-free Strategy of Necessity

mazda-tribute-credit-mazda-usa

Mazda's Tribute SUV uses Ford technology

How to make sense out of the bewildering differences in strategy by automakers today? In the case of Mazda, which rejects hybrid vehicles as a fad, the strategy may be one of necessity.

Mazda R&D chief Seita Kanai confirmed last week that Mazda still has no plans to commercialize its own hybrid technology, according to a report last week in Automobile Magazine. The Japanese automaker markets a hybrid version of its Tribute, a small SUV, which Automobile  Magazine writes off as a Ford engineered system closely resembling the technology in Ford’s Hybrid Escape. Kanai said Mazda will achieve mandated fuel economy savings by improving engines and transmissions, and by redesigning vehicles to reduce their weight.

But Kanai also admitted at the same event for reporters in Japan last week that Mazda couldn’t afford to field a hybrid. And he acknowledged that the resulting technology gap represented a worrisome problem for the company with buyers enamored of hybrids. Here’s how Kanai put it, according to Automotive News:

“We’re in real trouble,” Kanai said of the rapidly falling hybrid prices. “It’s a threat. We don’t have the resources to get involved in that kind of competition.”

They could be even further behind if one is to believe plans by automakers such as Nissan and Ford to aggressively push into fully battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs). Nissan is now considering selling its first battery EV in the U.S starting next year–two years faster than it had previously planned, according to another report today from Automotive News.

Quoting Mark Perry, Nissan’s U.S.-based product planning and strategy director, the report says rollout of Nissan’s EV will track the rollout of charging infrastructure, city-by-city. Presumably a thumbs up from the Department of Energy on Nissan’s request for loans to build an EV battery plant in Tennessee could also affect the Japanese automaker’s appetite for taking a bet on EVs in the U.S.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : :

This post was created for the Technology Review Potential Energy blog

Advertisements

One thought on “Mazda’s Hybrid-free Strategy of Necessity

  1. This is interesting for a number of reasons. If Mazda continues to improve on fuel economy won’t there be a continued market for its cars? Especially if they still make well-designed vehicles. I recently purchased a Mazda 6 hatchback version because it was the best alternative to the (Mercury) station wagon I had to replace. There are very few station wagons to choose from in the price range (the Mercury/Ford was no longer available). Why are auto manufacturers putting out more and more large, clumsy vehicles–hybrid or not?

Offer feedback

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s