TOKYO/HIROSHIMA -- Having finally cleared U.S. environmental regulations, Mazda Motor will introduce diesel engine models to the U.S. in fiscal 2017, sources close to the matter said.
The Japanese automaker, known for diesel offerings that spew relatively few pollutants, plans to introduce two diesel models next year, with a goal of achieving annual sales of about 50,000 vehicles.
Mazda, which led the expansion of Japan's diesel vehicle market, got stuck trying to achieve the high combustion efficiency needed to meet the U.S.'s strict environmental regulations.
The sources said Mazda believes latent demand for diesel vehicles remains strong in the U.S., where the share of diesel cars remains low and carmakers looking for greater fuel efficiency are shifting to electric cars.
That trend quickened about a year ago, after Volkswagen's emissions data-falsification scandal first surfaced.
Mazda is not going in this direction, however, at least for now, the sources said.
The plan will be unveiled later this week at an auto show in Los Angeles.
Mazda will initially introduce a major update to its gasoline-burning CX-5 in the spring. A diesel version of the SUV will follow, perhaps in summer.
Mazda will follow this up with a diesel version of the Mazda 6 sedan, known as the Atenza in Japan.
Both cars will be made in Hiroshima.
Mazda's diesel engines -- which have a high combustion efficiency and emit relatively low levels of nitrogen oxide and other pollutants -- have helped the company rapidly expand Japan's diesel passenger car market since 2012.
Back then, only about 10,000 diesel engine cars were sold in Japan each year. In 2015, 153,000 units were moved, up 90% from the previous year. Mazda captured nearly 70% of the market.