Mazda CX-5 “Clean Diesel” Reverses Diesel’s Decline in Japan

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, April 12th, 2012

For years it’s been nigh-on impossible to register a diesel vehicle in Japan. Not completely impossible, of course. But with particulate matter emissions a major concern in the sprawling metropolises where most Japanese live (the greater Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka areas), to all intents and purposes, the diesel option has been taken away from most Japanese consumers for the last decade.

Enter the CX-5.

New Mazda CX-5 clean diesel in Japan

The new Mazda CX-5 comes from a different world. Not one of those smoke-belching, tractor-rattling diesels of yore. No, the CX-5 is a “clean diesel” that uses Mazda’s proprietary Skyactiv tech to keep emissions down and fuel economy up. It aces the emissions requirements, meaning anyone can buy it — even in those big cities.

And the CX-5 has changed consumer attitudes, too.

In the first month of sales (February to March 2012), not only did Mazda sell 8 times as many CX-5s as it had expected (8,000 units), but a whopping 73% of these were the “clean diesel”. That 73% is unheard of in Japan. Just think about it — diesel sales have been all but dead for 10 years, and then the CX-5 comes along selling almost 3 diesels for every regular gasoline vehicle sold.

The start of a new era?

I’m not sure we can say this just yet. But we can say that this is an exciting challenge to the hybrid-centric thinking that has seen Japanese car makers fall behind in markets like the EU that prefer diesels.

Source: Nikkei BP (Japanese language)

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