Current petrol engines operate at around 30 per cent efficiency in optimum scenarios and in the worst - town driving - can operate as low as 10 per cent. That amounts to between 70 - 90 per cent lost energy.
Now, Mazda is close to launching a new generation of petrol and diesel engines, and claims efficiency will be improved to around 40 per cent. They are also working on further refinements which would bring fuel efficiency over the 50 per cent mark.
A combination of lightweight construction methods and a 'clean sheet' and simple approach to engine and transmissions designs, Mazda believes it can offer better fuel efficiency and lower emissions than today's hybrid technologies.
"The MX-5 is a simple car so we have taken a lot of simple steps and then put them all together," Kiyoshi Fujiwara, head of product planning said. "Simple is best because it is reliable and affordable."
The resulting Skyactiv technology will see its full debut - engines, transmission, chassis and body - in the Mazda CX-5, which will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011 and launch in Spring 2012.
Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda Europe tells us that the launch of Skyactiv will present a marketing challenge: "Customers expect hybrids and cars with eco badges to have good fuel economy. Our challenge is to get people to believe they can have that fuel economy and still have fun-to-drive cars," he said.
Currently being launched in Japan is the first application of Skyactiv in the form of a new 1.3-litre engine in the Mazda2. "It has the same fuel economy as a Honda Jazz hybrid at 30km/litre (about 85mpg) and less than 120g/km CO2," said Mr Guyton.
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