TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp. is resisting hybrid vehicles because it aims to boost fuel economy by fine-tuning the internal combustion engine.
But an important fuel saver, the stop-start system, is on hold in the United States, the company's most important market, said Mazda r&d chief Seita Kanai.
A next-generation Mazda3 sedan equipped with Mazda's new I-Stop technology -- which shuts down the engine to save gasoline when the car halts at red lights -- will debut this year in Japan and Europe. The system can improve fuel efficiency 10 percent, Mazda says.
But the fuel-saving technology isn't entirely suitable to American driving habits, Kanai said.
"We're still thinking about what to do," he said last week in Tokyo, when asked whether his new idle-stop engines will make it stateside. "In America, there's not much advantage to it."
To achieve the maximum payoff from idle-stop systems, cars must drive in stop-and-go traffic. Kanai said American-style long-distance, high-speed driving wouldn't justify the extra costs.