Mazda begins big eco push

* Aims to cut fuel consumption by 30% by 2015 * Smart stop-start technology used * Lightweight chassis and new engines...

23 June 2008
Mazda begins big eco push

Mazda has begun a big push to make all its cars greener, and not just in terms of raw emissions.

Although Mazda is looking to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its cars, it also aims to cut emissions from its factories, and use low-emissions paints and carbon-neutral plastics.

By 2015, it aims to have cut the fuel consumption of its cars by 30%. To do this, it's using a number of measures, including clever stop-start technology.

Engine and chassis developments
Mazda's Smart Idle Stop System will go into mass production next year, appearing initially in Japan and Europe, and then worldwide.

Mazda says it's the only stop-start system in the world that restarts the engine by injecting fuel directly into the cylinder and igniting it to force the piston down (instead of using the starter motor).

As well as making starting the engine smoother and quieter, Mazda claims it improves fuel economy by 7-8%.

To improve fuel economy further, Mazda also says it will introduce new, lightweight chassis to reduce the weight of its vehicles by 100kg or more.

There will also be a new generation of petrol and diesel engines. Next year, there'll be E85 bioethanol-compatible petrol engines on sale in Europe and North America.

Then, from 2011 onwards, Mazda will introduce direct-injection petrol engines, which it says will improve power by 15-20% while boosting fuel economy by around 20%.

In the same year, a new range of diesel engines will be rolled out, using the next generation of direct-injection technology, turbocharger systems and nitrous oxide (NOx)-reduction technology.

Mazda will also bring in improved rotary engines with direct-injection systems that offer better performance and economy.

Perfecting the paint shop
Mazda is also introducing a more-advanced version of its three-layer wet paint system.

The current system uses water-based paints that have reduced harmful emissions from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) by 45% and CO2 emissions by 15%.

Next year, though, it will begin using an improved paint system that Mazda says will reduce VOC emissions by a further 57% without increasing CO2 emissions. It should, Mazda believes, make its paint shops the cleanest in the world.

Bioplastics ready by 2013
The interiors of new Mazdas will benefit from new, carbon-neutral plastics. These are plastics developed from non-food-based cellulose, and Mazda says they will be ready to put into cars by 2013.

Hydrogen projects progessing
There has also been progress on Mazda's hydrogen projects.

Later this year, a hydrogen version of its 5 RE Hybrid MPV will be available for commercial lease in Japan. It has a range of 200km (124km).

However, Mazda is also developing a better version, which has a range of 400km (249 miles) and performance equivalent to a 3.0-litre petrol engine. There's no word on when the car might be ready, though.