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The Mazda2 lost 200 pounds during its most recent redesign.
Mazda doesn't have to rely on hybrids to improve fuel economy.

You know that we're in a full gasoline crisis mode when BMW starts advertising about how fuel efficient its vehicles are. The notion of spreading the word to consumers on how efficient its vehicles lineups are -- and will be -- seems to be spreading quickly.

Mazda is the latest to step up to the plate with the bold announcement that it will reduce fuel consumption on its global portfolio of vehicles 30 percent by 2015. Mazda plans to achieve this ambitious goal by 1) making its vehicles 200+ pounds lighter with each redesign, 2) introducing revamped rotary and diesel engines, and 3) adding a new Smart Idle Stop System to its engines.

On the first point, Mazda is already making great strides. Mazda managed to make the current generation Mazda2 200-pounds lighter than its predecessor thanks to the use of high and ultra-high tensile steel, revised suspension components, reducing the length of the wiring harness, converting various plastic components from multiple pieces to a single piece, and shrinking front and rear overhang from the bumpers. According to Mazda, 60 percent of the weight reduction came from engineering solutions, 20 percent came from "feature adjustments" and 20 percent from curtailing the exterior dimensions of the vehicle.

Mazda's rotary engine -- not exactly known as a friend to gasoline or oil for that matter -- is also getting an upgrade early in the next decade. Mazda promised improved performance and fuel economy thanks to Direct Injection Spark Injection and "high-speed combustion technology". Also, Mazda's next generation of diesel engines will employ NOx reduction technology and direct injection to boost fuel economy by 20 percent while reducing tailpipe emissions significantly.

Finally, Mazda will use a Smart Idle Stop System (SISS) on its vehicles to cut off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop. Hybrid vehicles already employ such technology, but it is a feature that is rarely seen in conventional cars. Mazda says that the SISS is good for a seven to eight percent increase in fuel economy.

When it comes to improving fuel economy, the little things add up. While it's nice to see manufacturers turn to hybrid powertrains to improve fuel economy, it's also great to see engineers look to weight savings and improvements to existing technology to make similar gains.





"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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