Mazda BT-50 Biodiesel Test - Results are in

Mazda have completed their BT-50 bio-diesel B2 and B5 test and have posted a press release which declares the success of the test. I have included the full press release below, but I would like to point out a few things that had me wondering.

Mazda BT-50 image

First, the claim that the trucks registered an "impressive consumption rate of 17 - 18 km. per liter at an average speed of 110 km. per hr." My right eyebrow is raised pretty high right now.

Now this doesn't sound too bad, right? If the BT-50 can do 17 km/l that is quite impressive, but that is not the bit I am concerned with. What I'm actually shocked at is the claim of an average speed of 110 km/h. Consider the route taken. Consider the speed limits in place along those routes (mostly below 110 km/h, usually 90 km/h and 40 km/h through towns, with only toll-way and expressway driving allowing for speeds over 120 km/h). Consider the traffic they would have encountered along the way. Consider the condition of some of the roads. Consider that they were driving pick-up trucks.

It is possible that this figure was just pulled out of the air, and I hope this is the case, although that would make this test worthless. The other possibility is that they have taken the best fuel consumption stint which was recorded on a stretch of road where they were legally able to do 110 km/h.

But if this is truly the average fuel consumption across the entire trip, and the speed of 110 km/h is the average from the trip, then these trucks were speeding, and their drivers were in breach of the law.

Second, their were pit-stops every 5000 km for evaluation. Considering that the second route was 3000 km, that would leave room for exactly zero pit-stops.

Mazda were hoping that the results of this test would help people feel confident in using B2 and B5 bio-diesel products in their trucks. I would expect that all pick-up trucks in Thailand with diesel engines should be able to run just fine on B2 and B5 biodiesel. Remember, they are only 2% and 5% bio fuel, with the remaining 98% and 95% being regular diesel, respectively.

This test does nothing to convince me any further. If this test had been performed by an independent testing group, and the driving had been done at appropriate speeds, then this would be of some value. All it does for me is make me think that their were two trucks additional trucks speeding around Thailand for a few weeks.

Mazda Press Release:

Bangkok – Thailand, February 14, 2008 – Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co., Ltd. announced the achievement of the BT-50 on a 10,000 km road test using bio-diesel B2 and B5. The test, with a pit stop at every 5,000 kilometers, had demonstrated that the engine ran smoothly, and no problem was found in the system. In addition, the engine was cleaner, emitted less carbon dioxide, and registered an impressive consumption rate of 17 – 18 km. per liter at an average speed of 110 km. per hr. This proves that the BT-50 is fully compatible with both types of fuel, thus strongly affirming Mazda’s commitment to the government's energy and environmental conservation policy.

Sureethip La-ongthong, Marketing Director of Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co., Ltd. revealed that “after the testing of two Mazda BT-50s, each filled with bio-diesel and running in a total distance of 10,000 kilometers on 22 day period, both cars demonstrated good results in terms of performance, engine power and fuel efficiency. This has proven that Mazda BT-50 can use bio-diesel without any adverse effects to the engine. We believe that the test will help ensure confidence in using bio-diesel among our customers and the general public as well. Furthermore, we will continue using bio-diesel in the BT-50 for upcoming circuit racing and cross country racing events.”

Mazda BT-50 Road Test with Bio-diesel
Depart Bangkok on January 21, 2008 at 12:00 am, at Mazda Bangkok headquarter, Lake Ratchada.

Routing 1 (7,000 kilometers)
Bangkok – Phuket – Krabi – Phang nga – Surat Thani – Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai – Nong Khai – Udon Thani – Ubon Ratchathani – Prachin Buri – Rayong – Trat – Bangkok

Routing 2 (3,000 kilometers)
Bangkok – Phuket – Krabi – Phang nga – Surat Thani – Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai – Bangkok
Returning to Bangkok on February 13, 2008 at 12:00 at Mazda City, Rama 4 Road.

Testing results
1. Engine test and engine oil check: Engine running normal, no unusual noise.
2. Lab tests of oil samples to seek any residue: No contamination found.
3. Torque Test: Torque rate is normal.
4. Emission Test: The engine is clean, with less emission.
5. Fuel consumption test & record: Average consumption rate is 17 – 18 km. per liter.
6. Hoist vehicles to conduct overall check such as oil filter parts, engine oil, piston rings etc: From overall check, all parts are in normal state.

While the Mazda BT-50 with a 2500cc engine was filled up with bio-diesel B2, the other BT-50 3000cc engine utilized bio-diesel B5. This road test was conducted in 2 parts by famous actor-turned-racer Pete Tongchua and his team. The testing team first took route 1, leaving Bangkok for the South of Thailand, then heading North, Northeast and East prior to returning to Bangkok, covering a total distance of over 7,000 kilometers. The second route, spanning a 3,000 kilometer distance, started at Bangkok heading south to Phuket, then turning north to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and back to Bangkok. A pit stop at every 5,000 kilometers was taken in both routes to check the engines for evaluation.

The final test results turned out highly satisfactory.