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Mazda says new engines will match hybrids in mpg

Automotive News reports on a new line of Mazda engines.

BERLIN--Mazda says it expects hybrid-like fuel economy from vehicles powered by new Sky direct-injection gasoline and diesel engines scheduled to arrive in the United States starting next year.

The Sky engines and Sky-Drive automatic and manual transmissions are the centerpiece of Mazda's aim to raise the fuel efficiency of its U.S. lineup 30 percent from 2008 to 2015.

For example, the next Mazda3, due in about 2015, would get an estimated 40 mpg on the highway with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder Sky-G engine teamed with a Sky-Drive six-speed automatic, says Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda's head of product planning and powertrain development. That compares with 33 mpg on the current Mazda3. Fujiwara spoke at a preview of the technology here last week.

Fujiwara said the next-generation Mazda6, with a 2.2-liter Sky-D twin-turbo diesel engine, would achieve an estimated 43 mpg on the highway, compared with 30 mpg on the current, gasoline-powered Mazda6.

The automaker will incorporate the new engines into its lineup as vehicles are redesigned. The first Sky gasoline engine will arrive in the United States next year. The first diesel will follow in 2012. Mazda has not announced the vehicles in which the engines will debut.

At the press event, Mazda showed early versions of both the 2.0-liter gasoline and 2.2-liter turbodiesel powerplants. The engines, installed in four prototypes of the next-generation Mazda6, were teamed with six-speed transmissions, both automatic and manual.

Direct injection puts fuel directly into the combustion chamber rather than upstream in the intake port, enabling fuel economy and performance gains over traditional fuel injection.

Mazda also plans to add start-stop technology and regenerative braking and later introduce a hybrid vehicle using electric motors under license from Toyota, said Seita Kanai, director of R and D for Mazda Motor Corp.

Rather than dive into the costly world of hybrid and electric-vehicle technology development, Kanai said, Mazda will add electrification to its lineup slowly.

"We have a plan to introduce [the technology] gradually, starting from simple devices," Kanai said. "The more complex a device is, the more costly it becomes."

(Source: Automotive News)