Mazda North American Operations has donated five Tribute Hybrids to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) on a two-year loan. The vehicles are hybrid prototypes of Mazda’s Tribute compact SUV and are part of 30 total Tribute Hybrid SUVs that Mazda will loan to fire agencies across Southern California. (Earlier post.)
LAFD staff will drive the Tribute HEVs in various assignments throughout Los Angeles County. They will mainly be used for non-emergency functions, such as travel to fire safety inspections, educational programs and fire station maintenance activities.
Other fire departments in Orange County, Corona, San Bernardino, San Diego and Riverside also will receive the hybrid prototypes.
Although the company doesn’t currently sell the Tribute HEV to customers, the varied driving conditions these vehicles will be put through, as well as the input on on-road performance received from the fire agencies, will provide useful data as Mazda moves toward full production of an HEV.
Based on the technology in the Escape Hybrid, the Tribute Hybrid uses a Mazda 2.3-liter engine modified to run on the Atkinson cycle for superior fuel efficiency. The engine delivers output of 99kW (133hp) at 6,000rpm and maximum torque of 167Nm at 4,250 rpm.
A 70kW electric motor provides all-electric operation at speeds up to 40 km/h (25 mph), and then provides power assist to the engine when extra torque is needed. During deceleration, it charges the 330V NiMH battery.
Relative to a gasoline-only Tribute with the same engine model, the Tribute Hybrid provides 32% better fuel economy during highway operation and 74% better fuel economy during urban operation. It can cover at least 400 miles (640km) on one tank of gasoline.