For the second time, Mazda has said that the SKYACTIV-D clean diesel platform for the 2014 Mazda6 (read our review here) will be delayed. This time, the delay appears indefinite and may mean it will not introduce this year at all.
Mazda has had trouble with the diesel drivetrain in Europe and although they’ve said that they’d resolved those, this may be a sign of other issues that perhaps we hadn’t considered. Like the fact that the awesome SKYACTIV system’s high compression engine for gasoline may be meeting or even beating the diesel option’s MPG ratings, making the diesel seem like a moot point.
Mazda’s release says that:
While Mazda understands its SKYACTIV-D can meet emission regulation requirements without the use of a NOx after-treatment system, it was decided that further development is required to deliver the right balance between fuel economy and Mazda-appropriate driving performance.
This can mean a couple of things. Either the diesel didn’t get the kind of EPA performance ratings they’d hoped for or the diesel’s emissions output isn’t as good as they’d thought it was. Our vote is for the former, since the diesel as-is meets European standards, which are far more stringent than our own.
Whatever the cause, we’re glad that Mazda is holding back instead of rushing something to launch that may not be ready for prime time. The company is not in a position to absorb the bad PR a flop could bring and is smart to wait until their release is perfect. The SKYACTIV system, especially the Mazda6 and Mazda3, is building great inroads into branding recognition and public acceptance (and the sales that go along with those). This is not the time to gamble and potentially screw that up.