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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RE: Why all the rush all of a sudden?
By Steve1981 on 8/26/2009 12:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
What can I say, I'm not especially convinced of a need for government controls on our vehicles gas mileage as a counter for "corporate irresponsibility". By and large, the free market does a good job of implementing things when they are cost effective to do so. Government mandates run counter to that. As I stated before: as fuel prices rise, demand for fuel efficient vehicles go up, and the technologies in question become more cost effective to implement.

By Starcub on 9/17/2009 11:44:31 AM , Rating: 2
You're theorizing about a 'free market'. Such a thing does not exist. As Bill Gates said: 'the standard is what gets sold off the shelf'. Companies go through a lot of trouble to ensure that they control as much market share as possible. This means that they engage in non-competitive business practices, like entering in to exclusive arragments with suppliers and vendors. The effect is to artificially interfere with the 'free and open market'. They can put whatever they want on the shelf and people will have to buy it. This is, to a certain extent tolerated by law since companies argue that they are required to generate a return for their shareholders.

When a company establishes itself in a particular market, they do whatever they can to ensure that they remain in control of their market. That's the reality -- and it's hardly a "free" market.

As I stated before: as fuel prices rise, demand for fuel efficient vehicles go up, and the technologies in question become more cost effective to implement.

Just because demand for a product increases, that doesn't mean that the company will determine that the product will be more profitable than what are already offering. As I implied, there is more to profitability than the price consumers are willing to pay. There are a variety of factors that must be considered that contribute to the cost of production.

Often times companies (and their government representatives) find that they have entered into arrangements that, while giving them an advantage in producing a particular product, at the same time present barriers to change that hinder them. So they have to deal with risk, and they often do this to the detriment of the consumer. Most companies today are bottom line focused, and they feel they have to be in order to compete in the market exchange.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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