Print 80 comment(s) - last by Starcub.. on Sep 17 at 11:44 AM

20th Anniversary Mazda MX-5 Miata

Will be rolled out globally across entire product line by 2015

In May of this year, President Barack Obama proposed a 35.5 mpg nationwide average fuel economy standard that would be achieved by 2016. The average for cars will be raised to 39 mpg, while the average for light trucks will be raised to 30 mpg.

Mazda is currently known for its line of sporty vehicles, but is currently lagging its competitors in fuel economy. To remedy that, the company is implementing a complete redesign of its four-cylinder engines that will see them paired with new small and light six-speed automatic transmissions.

The new direct-injection gasoline engines will have a combination of smaller displacement, higher power output, and greater efficiency. The fuel injector is placed in the combustion chamber of a direct-injection engine, as opposed to the intake valve in a conventional fuel-injected engine. Mazda is also combining its direct-injection engines with a new electric high-pressure fuel pump and variable intake and exhaust valve timing that will allow more optimal combustion in a wider rev range. The company plans to incorporate these developments into its rotary engines.

Seita Kanai, the head of Mazda's R&D department, said that the redesign of Mazda's 2.0 liter four-cylinder engines paired with the new transmissions would result in a fuel economy increase to 32 mpg from 22 mpg in the city. Highway fuel economy would increase to 42 mpg from 32 mpg.

While not confirming the use of dual-clutch technology, Kanai stated that the next-generation automatic transmission would provide the quick, direct shift quality of a double-clutch transmission system. "No slip means there won't be wasteful heat generation," enthused Kanai.

Idle-stop engine cut-off, regenerative braking, electric power steering, and electric water pumps are just some of the technologies also being considered for inclusion in the company's quest for fuel economy. If Mazda does decide to adopt these technologies across its entire production line, economies of scale could enable the company to bring them to market at a lower cost than other vehicle manufacturers. BMW has already implemented many of these technologies in its "EfficientDynamics" program.

Mazda was particularly enthusiastic last year about idle-stop technologies when it talked about its plans last year, but has been forced to scale back its hype. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't account for the technology during its fuel economy testing, which can reduce fuel consumption by up to ten percent. Mazda doesn't want to foot the bill for installing it if it can't market it to consumers.

Weight reduction is also an important component of Mazda's plan. An additional 3-5 mpg could be achieved through the use of lighter structural materials and new bonding technologies. Mazda will also use its single nanotech catalyst, which reduces the need for expensive palladium and platinum in the catalytic converter by 70-90 percent.

There is a catch though to all of the new technologies though. Robert Davis, Senior Vice President of Mazda's North American Operations R&D, said that the new powertrains cannot be retrofitted to any of its existing product lines. Therefore, the new engines and transmissions will be incorporated into the company's new models as they are developed and introduced.

The redesigned MX-5 Miata convertible or Mazda5 are the most likely to integrate the new technologies first. The entire model lineup will be equipped with the new engines by 2015.
"We want to provide this technology to all owners, not just through a few eco-friendly vehicles," stated Kanai during a media briefing.

Mazda is also considering bringing new diesel engines to the North American market. However, it does not currently have an automatic transmission for diesel engines.

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More practical
By Ristogod on 8/25/2009 8:47:22 AM , Rating: 5
Nice to see some of these companies not rushing into drastic changes. Taking their time and focusing on more simple methods to achieve results is much better than going hybrid or electric.

RE: More practical
By Emma on 8/25/2009 9:30:10 AM , Rating: 1
I agree. They are taking the VW approach to fuel efficiency without compromising on performance, practicality and affordability. The Golf 118TSI is a perfect example of what can be achieved. It uses 6.2 litres/100km, whilst the Mazda3 uses 7.9 litres/100km.

RE: More practical
By bespoke on 8/25/2009 2:16:16 PM , Rating: 5
It uses 6.2 litres/100km, whilst the Mazda3 uses 7.9 litres/100km.

The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it.

RE: More practical
By STILTO on 8/25/2009 4:38:53 PM , Rating: 2
(6.2 litres) / (100 km) = 37.937836 miles per gallon

RE: More practical
By Jeffk464 on 8/25/2009 11:23:55 PM , Rating: 2
No reason to do either or, all of these technologies can be incorporated into a car. But I have to agree if same mileage and one car is hybrid and other is not, I'm going for the non-hybrid. One of the greatest advantages with the hybrid is getting alot of your energy back when braking, no way you can do this with a conventional car.

RE: More practical
By Starcub on 8/26/2009 12:04:52 PM , Rating: 3
Nice to see some of these companies not rushing into drastic changes. Taking their time and focusing on more simple methods to achieve results is much better than going hybrid or electric.

Your kidding right? The only reason they are making the changes they are is because govt. got involved, so now they have no choice.

The statement Mazda made regarding it's descision to exclude auto-stop tech is proof that most companies are bottom line focused assuming that the consumer doesn't care (not that it matters). They could easily use "auto-stop" as a selling point to differentiate their product regardless whether or not the EPA incorporates it into their mileage figures.

Amazing how now the "it can't be done" crowd is being silenced under the new regulations. All the sudden we're seeing new cars being developed with 30% higher fuel efficiency, using what is now state of the art tech.

RE: More practical
By Fireshade on 8/28/2009 10:22:45 AM , Rating: 2
And so it is! *Applause*

Perhaps the "can't be done" crowd is powered by the effective lobby of the car industry to prevent investments in innovative technologies.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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