According to the United States government, the average fuel economy for new cars and trucks needs to be at least 54.5 miles per gallon by the 2025 model year. That’s more than double the current average of 25.4 mpg.
That deadline is still 10 years away, but in vehicle-development terms it might as well be tomorrow. That’s why we’re seeing the explosion of hybrids, electric vehicles, turbochargers, and *ahem* diesels in this country.
One company has taken a more subtle approach and devoted itself to getting impressive efficiency from the humble 4-cylinder combustion engine.
Mazda’s SkyActiv engines have proven themselves in their first generation of use, and now the second-generation technology is beginning to come out. Car and Driver said,
With the six-speed automatic, the 2016 Mazda 2 gets 33 mpg city and 43 mpg highway, a major jump from the old car’s 28/34 mpg. The six-speed manual isn’t far off at 31 mpg city, 42 mpg highway, again a major improvement over the 2014 five-speed model’s 29/35 mpg. The Mazda 2 uses the company’s new 1.5-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder, which boasts direct injection, high compression, and other internal tricks.
Mazda is proving that with some perseverance and ingenuity, it can take lofty steps toward the government’s requirements, without investing in the development of expensive hybrid or electric technology.
And it’s not done yet.
Mazda expects to improve fuel efficiency for the next generation of SkyActiv engines by another 30 percent. Those new engines should appear by 2018 and will likely represent the main component of Mazda’s fuel-efficient strategy.
The company has also teased the use of diesel technology in the United States, but we’ll see how that plays out in light of recent events.
Here’s the problem, though. SkyActiv works to provide stellar fuel economy in small cars, but those numbers won’t be anywhere near 54 mpg for larger cars and SUVs. That’s where the use of hybrids and/or diesels is almost required to increase the fleet average and meet federal requirements.
What’s your choice for getting great gas mileage: a hybrid, diesel, turbo, or something like Mazda’s SkyActiv technology?