LOS ANGELES -- Mazda plans to add gasoline direct-injection engine technology to the Mazda3 when the compact sedan receives a freshening in the second half of 2011, Automotive News has learned.
The new engine will mark the North American debut of Mazda's SkyActiv powertrain technology, which combines next generation direct fuel injection engines and fuel-saving transmissions to deliver fuel economy close to that of a hybrid.
The gasoline direct injection engine, called SkyActiv-G, and a SkyActiv transmission will be added to the Mazda3 when the compact sedan receives its mid-lifecycle freshening in the latter half of this year, according to a source with knowledge of Mazda's plans.
A Mazda spokesman declined to confirm the information when contacted by Automotive News.
Kiyoshi Fujiwara, Mazda's head of product planning and powertrain development, said at a briefing about the technology in August that a Mazda3 with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder Sky-G engine mated to a Sky-Drive six-speed automatic would get an estimated 40 mpg on the highway compared to the 33 mpg on the current Mazda3.
Fujiwara also said that the next-generation Mazda6, with a 2.2-liter Sky-D twin-turbo diesel engine, would achieve an estimated 43 mpg on the highway, compared with 30 mpg on the current, gasoline-powered Mazda6.
Mazda has spent millions on its new family of direct injection gasoline and diesel engines, new transmissions, chassis and vehicle frame technology to shave weight and increase efficiency in its vehicles. The strategy stands in contrast to competitors, like Toyota, for example, that have adopted a strategy of vehicle electrification as a path to meet more stringent emissions and fuel economy regulations.
Mazda stands to get the biggest CAFÉ-rating bang for its high-tech buck by picking the Mazda3 as its first car to receive the next-generation engine. The Mazda3 accounted for about 46 percent of the brand's 229,556 vehicles sold in the United States last year.
Mazda plans to roll out SkyActiv-G engines and diesel variants, called SkyActiv-D, to its entire lineup by 2015 as the brand races to meet tougher emissions and fuel economy regulations.