Ford, Mazda & Engine Tech: More Signs of a Shift

If you’re looking for some data points that indicate there is a slow but certain shift from the near-complete dominance of gasoline powered vehicles in the U.S. market to something that is less homogenous—sure, the combustion engines will dominate, but they won’t be the only game in town—then a couple of events that occurred this week need to be added to your list.

If you’re looking for some data points that indicate there is a slow but certain shift from the near-complete dominance of gasoline powered vehicles in the U.S. market to something that is less homogenous—sure, the combustion engines will dominate, but they won’t be the only game in town—then a couple of events that occurred this week need to be added to your list.

First of all, within the matter of just three days, Ford Motor announced partnerships with three energy companies in Texas to help prepare the infrastructure—such as installing smart meters that will indicate when the most propitious time to change (read: least expensive)—for electric vehicles. First it was CenterPoint Energy for the Houston area, Austin Energy for Austin, and Oncor for north Texas.

Ford will be coming out with the Transit Connect Electric later this year, and then a battery-electric version of the Focus in 2011.

Yes, small numbers initially, but at least a move toward a difference in the mix.

 

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Second, Mazda North American Operations has joined the Diesel Technology Forum in anticipation of its introduction of its SKY-D diesel. This will follow the introduction of SKY-G—yes, that’s “G” as in gas, a gasoline direct-injection engine—that is expected to occur in 2011, with the diesel probably being introduced in the U.S. market sometime in the latter half of 2012. In the time-frame of engine development, not all that far off.

While there are other light vehicle manufacturers that are DTF members—BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM, and VW—only the German companies offer cars with diesels in the U.S. market. Soon it will be Mazda.

Again, a comparative handful of diesels compared with barrels-full of gasoline engines. But, again, a nontrivial stake in the ground.