Green Shift: Mazda Devoting More R&D Money to Environmentally Friendly Cars

With customers and governments alike increasingly focusing on fuel economy and emissions, Mazda has decided to double its research and development budget for environmentally friendly vehicles to meet the ever increasing demands.

This year, Mazda upped its R&D spending ¥15 billion ($182 million) to a total of ¥100 billion ($1.2 billion), of which 20 percent was spent on green technologies such as hybrids and other fuel saving measures. Mazda is set to hold its R&D budget constant over the next five years, but its budget for environmentally friendly vehicles will go up to somewhere around 40 percent by 2015.

Increased R&D spending on environmentally friendly vehicles is part of the Japanese company's plan to boost fuel economy across its lineup by 30 percent by 2015. This will be done through a mixture of dieting (Mazda wants to drop about 200 pounds from every vehicle it makes) and powertrain enhancements such as hybrids. Earlier this year, Mazda inked a deal to license Toyota's hybrid powertrain.

Despite the hybrid heavy talk, Mazda hasn't given up on internal combustion engines yet as the company plans on working to increase the efficiency of its gasoline and diesel engines as well. Examples of this can already be seen in the company's Sky-G and Sky-D engines along with its new Sky-Drive transmission. The Sky engines deliver a 15- to 20-percent fuel economy improvement according to Mazda while the Sky-Drive transmission is good for another 5-percent boost.

Although Mazda's lagged behind in the green car segment, the company plans on selling a hybrid model as early as 2013. Both the Sky-D and Sky-G engines will make their way to the U.S. one year earlier in 2012.

Source: Reuters

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