WHAT’S THE HOLD UP???
We’ve been waiting on the diesel-engine products from Mazda and Hyundai for months. Now we can share some news from each company, as well as explain the hold-up. It’s all about CARB, EPA and revised testing methodology. Both manufacturers are waiting for federal clearance. As we predicted, Hyundai will fit a diesel into the Santafe CUV. We were a teensy bit off on power output. Their 2.2L CRDI turbodiesel engine has 190 horsepower at 3,800 rpm and 322 lb-ft of torque at 1,750-2,500 rpm, estimated, according to Hyundai. Mazda only says they’ll have more to say this fall.
We spoke to several Hyundai execs about the diesel-powered Santa Fe testing at CARB. Our source at the Hyundai Technical Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan, told us that because of all the recent assertions about cheating on diesel emissions, every manufacturer’s methods, software and engineering are under intense scrutiny. “We [at Hyundai] are completely open about our engine and emissions strategies,” he said.
We also spoke to Mike O’brien, vice president of product planning at Hyundai. He told us that the new Santa Fe with the diesel option will be available toward the end of the year, will have the best available tow rating, and will be among category leaders in fuel economy. “If it were today it would lead,” O’brien told us. “The diesel [engine] will accelerate better than the base engine, tow more, and have better fuel economy. It will be our most capable CUV.”
According to O’brien, powertrain emissions testing has fundamentally changed. “Nowadays, because of electronic controls, as well as recent history, Agencies want to know operational strategies,” he said. “They want to know code, emissions strategy, how the systems are interacting. Not just how it does in the lab and on the road, but under other conditions. This has extended the test and certification cycle for all manufacturers; nobody is treated differently. And it applies to gas engines as well.
“If you’re a car company developing a new vehicle, there are hundreds of simultaneous processes. Manufacturers will have to change cadence to intercept the certification process earlier. A few years ago it was possible to take an engine out of a vehicle and place it into an- other vehicle and do a ‘paper cert.’ That’s not possible any longer.
“If we could let plant workers sit around and read magazines for a few months, it wouldn’t be a problem. The question is, how do you make those simultaneous tasks reach their conclusion at the same time—the start of production? Now we have to adjust, go through certification earlier so we can have an on-time product launch.”
Where the problem for all manufacturers lies is in the decisions federal agencies make. For instance, GM may see engine controls differently than FCA, Ford or Hyundai. And CARB may “suggest” what is in their opinion the best practice for emission controls on a diesel or gas engine. This is, in our opinion, highly questionable.
Hyundai promises the most competent Santafe CUV will be the one equipped with a 2.2L diesel. It will have better fuel economy and greater towing capacity. With 322 lb-ft, it’s not a torque monster, but it will surely move a small camper, small boat trailer, or recreational vehicle trailer with ease.
We assume Mazda’s SKYACTIV-D engine will fit into the CX-9 CUV, and that we’ll learn more in the early fall. Until then, all we know is that it will displace 2.2 liters (a popular size for this vehicle class) and promises better acceleration and fuel economy than the gasoline engine, also available in CX-9