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Tokyo show: Mazda flags fuel-choice future

Having a gas: Mazda is diving head-first into greener technology with hybrid and natural-gas versions of its new Mazda3.

Fuel savings and choices form Mazda’s Tokyo line-up

19 Nov 2013


MAZDA is about to formally take its first step into hybrid powerplants as the car-maker sends out feelers for a future less reliant on petrol and offering more choice on alternative fuels.

Demonstrating the broad nature of its SkyActiv technology, the Japanese car-maker this week unveils its first hybrid drivetrain at the Tokyo motor show, hidden under the skin of the all-new Mazda3 small car, as well as a compressed natural gas (CNG) version that adds a gas cylinder alongside the petrol tank.

The hybrid version of the 3 – it mates a fuel-efficient 2.0-litre four-cylinder SkyActiv-G petrol engine to the electric components developed for the Toyota Prius – is already on sale in Japan.

However, the new-generation Mazda3 range is not due on sale in Australia until early next year, and as yet the hybrid model has not had confirmation that it will be part of the local line-up.

“The Mazda3 Hybrid has not been developed for the global market, so the position (that it will not make it to Australia) remains the same,” said Mazda Australia senior manager of public relations, Steve Maciver.

While the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G engine produces about 116kW of power and 203Nm of torque, the electric motor add a circa-60kW dose of power to its performance and – more importantly – an extra 200Nm-plus of torque almost from idleFuel consumption for the SkyActiv-Hybrid is about 3.2 litres per 100 kilometres.

The most economical model in the current Mazda3 range in Australia is a version powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, which officially uses a combined 5.7L/100km.

While the hybrid is known technology, Mazda is also set for the debut of a concept vehicle using CNG as a fuel.

Based on the Mazda3, the car features a version of the fuel-efficient SkyActiv petrol engine tuned to also run on CNG – in what Mazda says is a demonstration of the flexible fuel capabilities of the engine.

Mr Maciver said the dual-fuel car was only a concept, and not yet slated for production.

“The point of the CNG engine is to show how broad-scale the SkyActiv technology is,” he said.

According to Mazda, demand for CNG as a transport fuel was growing worldwide, and the SkyActiv engine was already a candidate to use it.

“CNG engines must burn fuel at high pressure, and because the SkyActiv-G petrol engine already achieves a high compression ratio, it can easily be modified for CNG,” the car-maker said in a statement.

It said vehicles using CNG as a fuel produced about 20 per cent fewer emissions compared with running on petrol.

“Mazda proposes the Mazda3 SkyActiv-CNG Concept as a potential way to offer driving pleasure to even more customers around the world while reducing impact on the environment at the same time.”

The Japanese car-maker has also said it would show a version of its MZD Connect system that it anticipates will roll out across its range of cars by 2020.

MZD Connect is designed to “take driving pleasure a step further” by connecting the car and its driver on a “deeper level”.

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