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Mazda: Don't believe hot air being emitted by hybrid hype

Mazda's message on hybrid vehicles is clear: don't believe the hype.

Automotive News

Automotive News

TOKYO--Mazda's message on hybrid vehicles is clear: don't believe the hype.

Managing Executive Officer Yuji Hara blasted enthusiasm for the gasoline-electric green cars as the fleeting "mood" of a "brand society." He spoke at a media event here last week.

R&D chief Seita Kanai added that Mazda Motor Corp. has no plans to join the hybrid competition of domestic rivals Toyota and Honda. Instead, Mazda will boost fuel efficiency with cheaper measures, such as better engines and lower vehicle weight.

But he acknowledged that Mazda lacks the money to join the expensive hybrid race.

Without electric or hybrid vehicles, Mazda plans to improve the mileage of its global fleet by 30 percent compared with 2008 levels, Kanai said. Technologies such as engine idle-stop, gasoline direct injection, and efficient transmissions will deliver most of the savings.

To boost mileage, Mazda also plans to chop 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, off each model that gets redesigned in the coming years. Most of the weight loss will come through re-engineering the structure of each car, Kanai said.

He said substantial reductions in global carbon emissions will come from improving technologies at hand--not by equipping a small number of cars with exotic drivetrains.

Mazda's hybrid stance is making a virtue out of necessity. Kanai said the company lacks the R&D budget needed to roll out hybrids.

"We're in real trouble," Kanai said of the rapidly falling hybrid prices. "It's a threat. We don't have the resources to get involved in that kind of competition."

(Source: Automotive News)