Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto said he was asked by Toyoda to join the weekend event only in September. Marumoto said it was clear he couldn’t show up just to watch the race. But Mazda also didn’t have a lot of time to prepare a new technology to demonstrate. His engineers cooked up a race car running on the algae-kitchen grease biodiesel.
On the plus side, Mazda says the fuel delivers the same performance as a petroleum-based diesel. The downside: It costs more than $300 per gallon. The fuel powered a 1.5-liter Skyactiv-D engine in a Mazda2 racer at the Okayama race.
“Right now, we don’t have a clear idea of what we can achieve,” Marumoto said of the biodiesel gambit.
“The important thing is not to close opportunities but to open new ones.”
Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura said Toyota broached the idea of testing new technology on the track in July. As an all-wheel-drive niche player, Subaru is wrestling with how to transform its product portfolio to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards. It plans to derive only 40 percent of its sales from electrified vehicles in 2030.
“We were told to come here today,” Nakamura said. “Toyota gave us lots of requests and requirements.”
He conceded that Subaru has no inkling of when it might commercialize the biomass-derived synthetic fuel that will power a Toyota GR 86 and a Subaru BRZ racer in next year’s Super Taikyu Series.
“This transition period is particularly difficult,” Nakamura said. “I think we need to have various options and to try different things at this stage in time. It is not the time to decide solely on EVs.”
Naoto Okamura contributed to this report.