Rather than divert development dollars to a wide range of largely niche technologies like hydrogen- and electric-powered vehicles, Mazda prefers to focus on making the gasoline engine more efficient. In order to meet its 2015 deadline of increasing fuel economy across its model line by 30 percent, the Japanese automaker will reportedly debut a new range of four-cylinder and rotary engines by 2011.
According to Seita Kanai, the head of Mazda Motor Corporation’s research and design unit, a redesigned version of the top-selling Mazda’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, equipped with a new six-speed automatic transmission, will get up to 32 miles per gallon in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, 10 more miles per gallon for each rating than the current engine.
“We want to provide this technology to all owners, not just through a few eco-friendly vehicles,” Kanai said.
In its next-gen four-cylinder and rotary engines, fuel economy improvements like the ones cited for the 2.0-liter four-cylinder will be gleaned from new direct-injection technology combined with a high-pressure fuel pump and variable intake and exhaust valve timing. Efficiency will also be gained by using smaller, lighter automatic transmissions that have more gear ratios and can handle more torque than Mazda’s current transmissions.
Mazda will continue to source its V-6 engines from Ford because they are low-volume sellers in its lineup, Kanai said.
Although Mazda has not said which engine or vehicle would be the first to see the increased fuel efficiency, Automotive News predicts that the next Miata or Mazda5 could be the first models with the improvements based on the automaker’s product cadence. Mazda North American Operation’s Research and Development President Robert Davis says the new powertrains cannot be retrofitted to an existing product line.
Automotive News also says Mazda is considering offering its next-gen diesel engines in the United States. However, Mazda does not pair its diesels with automatic transmissions, which could further hinder sales of already hard-to-sell diesels in the U.S.
Source: Automotive News