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Mazda Exec: Death of Internal Combustion Engine is “Overrated”

Automaker is looking at EVs, but traditional engines will remain important

Automaker is looking at EVs, but traditional engines will remain important

Unlike Toyota, Honda, and most mainstream automakers, Mazda has held off on introducing electric vehicles. Now, a Mazda executive confirms the company has no plans to move away from internal combustion engines. In a recent seminar, Mazda’s senior vice president in charge of special assignments for North America raised concerns over many issues surrounding today’s EVs, including lithium-ion batteries.

Volvo recently announced that all of its new vehicles from 2019 will include electrification, and a host of other automakers have set ambitious targets for EVs over the next decade. These declarations have been seen by some as the beginning of the end for gas and diesel cars. But not Robert Davis, who says the “impending death of the internal combustion engine is overrated.” Instead of EVs, Mazda has boosted fuel economy with efficient Skyactiv engines and upcoming diesels. And while EVs have come a long way, there is plenty of room for improvement. Specifically, Davis expressed concern that lithium-ion batteries aren’t easily recycled.

“We’re all better than this. We can do better than this,” Davis urged. “We need to consider that this is not zero emissions. This is remote emissions, or displaced emissions. We need to work on the best solution for the customers and for the environment in a common target, not an instruction manual on how to get there.”

Davis also had a bone to pick with EV tax credits as a way to promote emissions compliance. “Let the government keep the $7,500 USD and let the industry find the best way to meet the clean air standard. Make it CO2, make it grams per mile, fuel economy — whatever feels best. But don’t mandate the particular powertrain,” Davis said. He criticized compliance cars, saying it makes more sense to build every car as efficiently as possible rather than produce a few green cars to offset all the others.

Still, it’s clear that Mazda is seriously looking at alternative powertrains. Mazda has considered battery technologies, EVs, and plug-in hybrids, Davis says. As further proof, Mazda and Toyota announced today they will develop technologies for electric vehicles together.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)