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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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Nothing new
By Masospaghetti on 8/25/2009 10:05:31 AM , Rating: 3
Props to Mazda for using these technologies..but other companies (GM in particular) already have production models with direct injected, dual VVT engines with 6-speed auto transmissions. The Equinox, SRX, and LaCrosse so far have these technologies.

GM should get credit when they actually do something right

RE: Nothing new
By FITCamaro on 8/25/2009 10:56:12 AM , Rating: 3
But American companies suck.

PS. - Still not gonna buy a GM until its not Gubbament Motors.

RE: Nothing new
By theapparition on 8/26/2009 10:21:55 AM , Rating: 1
Sell your GM GTO yet, or would you just like to continue with they hypocracy?

Don't give me the crap about buying it before the bailout, or that it's Aussie, or any other backward BS reasoning. Make a stand if you feel so strongly, otherwise shut the hell up.

Me, I'll continue buying the cars that I want. And unfortunately, the only car I'm interested in is sold by GM. It's scheduled for a Oct museum delivery and it has a ZR1 badge on it.

RE: Nothing new
By sprockkets on 8/25/2009 2:44:49 PM , Rating: 5
Mazda beat GM to 6 speeds in the Miata and 6, and with the 3, a 5 speed. Beat out Honda too.

Currently no one has a 6 speed AUTO in a sub-compact. That is what you need to keep in mind for the comparison.

RE: Nothing new
By Smartless on 8/25/2009 5:15:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I love my Mazda 6 but so far all the engines save for a few are made by Ford but slightly modified by Mazda.

RE: Nothing new
By sprockkets on 8/25/2009 6:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well, as a general rule, Mazda makes all the 4 cyl engines and Ford makes the 6 cyl engines, because Ford made crummy 4 cyl engines and Mazda made crummy 6 cyl engines.

RE: Nothing new
By Davelo on 8/26/2009 12:31:23 PM , Rating: 2
Mazda also makes crappy trannys. I had a Ford Ranger with a Ford V-6 which was a great engine. The thing was bullet proof. The manual tranny, made by Mazda, went out rather quickly and began making a howling noise. My friend's Ranger with same tranny also began making the same noise. I heard one going past me on the road making the exact same noise.

RE: Nothing new
By Spuke on 8/26/2009 6:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
Currently no one has a 6 speed AUTO in a sub-compact. That is what you need to keep in mind for the comparison.
And neither will Mazda until 2015.

RE: Nothing new
By vtohthree on 8/26/2009 1:00:07 AM , Rating: 2
You're right, EXCEPT that MAZDA ALREADY HAS DIRECT INJECTION. They've had one out for several years now.

Ever heard of the 2.3 DISI? It's the motor in the Mazdaspeed3 and the discontinued Mazdaspeed6. In fact it was rated as one of Ward's top 10 engines in the world:

So no, GM isn't ahead of Mazda. What Mazda is touting is that they are going to put these in ALL of their cars by 2015(so they claim), and that their DI engines will be very efficient. Mazda wasn't stating that they are finally going to release their first DI(as they've had them for a while now...I believe even longer than GM has). GM has not stated that they will make their whole lineup DI, that's the difference.

RE: Nothing new
By Spuke on 8/26/2009 7:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
as they've had them for a while now...I believe even longer than GM has
It was close. Essentially GM and Mazda released DI at the same time. I considered a Mazdaspeed3 while I was waiting for my Solstice GXP to come in.

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