Electric Cars May Be the Rage, But Mazda Still Swears By Diesel

(Bloomberg) -- Mazda Motor Corp. will continue to develop diesel technologies and won’t rush to embrace electric vehicles, even as tougher emission rules globally spur rivals including Nissan Motor Co. to step up their plans for environmentally friendly cars.

The Hiroshima-based carmaker sees diesel as an opportunity rather than a risk, and will continue to develop next generation engines for the fossil fuel, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, who oversees research and development at Mazda, told reporters in Tokyo. The automaker doesn’t see customer interest in EVs to pick up any time soon, Fujiwara said.

“Consumers won’t buy EVs just because of Elon Musk,” he said.

Mazda is one of the slow movers in EVs, although it started a joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. to develop such technologies last year. The smaller carmaker isn’t alone in betting on diesel. Matthias Mueller, the former chief executive officer of Volkswagen AG, has predicted a diesel renaissance in the “not-too-distant” future, while parts maker Robert Bosch GmbH has said the fuel will continue to play an important role as an engine option.

While Mazda plans to introduce EVs from next year to meet emission regulations -- including one in China with its local joint venture partner -- it will continue to focus on internal combustion engines and will enhance its operations in the U.S., where it’s building a plant with Toyota.

As for the rapidly expanding market in China, the world’s biggest for EVs, Fujiwara isn’t too concerned that Mazda may be falling behind.

“We don’t see China as a major business pillar as we are standing on five legs and China is just one of them. So, we don’t have to rush to develop EVs because of Chinese policies.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.