Friday, November 20, 2015

Tiny Mazda Has Big Plans For The Future

Mazda RX Vision concept
Mazda only makes about 1.5 million cars a year right now. Its cars account for just 2% of US new car sales. That’s a bit surprising. Mazdas are a pretty common sight on America’s roads. According to Masamichi Kogai, Mazda’s chief executive, the key for a small manufacturer like Mazda is to always be bringing updated versions of its products to market. He is in Los Angeles this week to oversee the introduction of  the company’s updated 7 passenger CX-9 sport utility vehicle.
He was asked by the Los Angeles Times if his company should be pursuing more sales. “Sales volume is not the only indicator,” Kogai said. “We need the right sales. If we put market share as a target, we might fall into the trap of discounting the product. That is a short-term strategy and a myopic view. What we need to make sure we don’t have too much aging of the existing products in the marketplace. We need a fresh lineup so that when our customers are ready to purchase another vehicle we have the product to sell them and they come back to us.”
Mazda has three factories worldwide and they are all running at or near full capacity. Kogai thinks they might be able to boost production to 1.65 million cars, but anything more than that would require a major investment in a new manufacturing facility. Why spend that money if Mazda doesn’t need to?
Mazda currently has no hybrid, plug-in or electric cars in its model lineup. Kogai says that doesn’t worry him. Mazda makes some of the most fuel efficient internal combustion engines in the world and is able to sell that technology to other companies. In return, it can call upon others to supply the zero emissions powertrains it will need to meet future regulations. In particular, it has a long standing cooperative agreement with Toyota to use its hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology.
Mazda may have at least one trick up its sleeve, though. It recently introduced its stunning RX Vision concept — a car that captures the smooth sensuality that made the Jaguar XK-E such an icon more than 50 years ago. The RX in the nane indicates the car will have a rotary engine under the hood if and when it goes into production. Since Mazda has already made an RX-7 and an RX-8, some people wanted to know if the new car will be called the RX-9.
“Will it be called RX-9? All previous RX-7s have been two or 2+2 seaters and the RX-8 was a four-seater, so what would that make RX-9 a six-seater? This concept is a two-seater, so you can imagine which number fits best,” Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda’s head of R&D told Top Speed after the unveiling. RX-7 it is, then. Fujiwara went on to say that the engine may be turbocharged and that the would be like a Porsche Cayman in terms of performance. That translates into an engine with at least 250 horsepower — more than double the output of the original RX-7 engine back in 1979.
CEO Kogai then dropped this little tidbit. “We…are looking at our rotary engine technology. It can combust hydrogen and use it as a fuel. The engine can run as a dual fuel system, switching between hydrogen and gasoline. We can also use rotary engines to charge the battery as a range extender in an electric vehicle.” Hmmm…a ltihe, luscious two seater with a turgocharged rotary engine that burns hydrogen? [drool] Where do I sign up? [/drool]
Photo credit: Top Speed

No comments:

Post a Comment