TOKYO -- Japan’s largest auto manufacturer and one of its smallest are betting against each other on divergent paths to the same goal -- an incredible fuel economy rate pushing 94 mpg.
Toyota Motor Corp., not only Japan’s, but the world’s No. 1 maker, will be turning to its tried-and-true hybrid technology.
Mazda Motor Corp., long constrained by a shoestring budget that won’t allow deep dabbling in such powertrains, aims to get there the old fashioned way, through better internal combustion.
Not surprising, Toyota, which has an r&d budget bigger than the annual net incomes of GM and Ford combined, will get to 40 km/l, or roughly 94 mpg, faster than its pint-sized rival.
According to a report in this week’s Nihon Keizai newspaper, the fourth-generation Toyota Prius gasoline-electric hybrid, due this winter, will be first achieving the milestone.
Mazda, by contrast, plans to launch an all-gasoline model that will match that fuel economy, but only in 2020, the report said.
Those fuel economy figures are predicated on Japan’s test cycle, which tends to deliver better results than the EPA’s more stringent schedule. But even though a direct comparison isn’t accurate, it gives a ballpark idea of these brands’ ambitions.
The Prius’ fuel economy would mark a 20 percent improvement over that of the current generation and be the world’s best, the Nihon Keizai reported. And Toyota aims to hold the price steady.
Mazda, which sources its only hybrid drivetrain offering from Toyota, is eyeing a next-generation high-compression internal combustion technology. Mazda has announced that before, but the Nihon Keizei says the ultimate goal is also 40 km/l, by 2020.
Mazda outlined the strategy last year for the introduction of homogeneous charge compression ignition, known as HCCI. The technology compresses the fuel-air mixture to such a high pressure and temperature that it ignites by itself without requiring a spark, similar to the way a diesel engine operates.
It is hard to bet against the chances of success for the Toyota juggernaut. But for underdog Mazda -- which sells just a little more than a tenth as many cars as it huge domestic rival -- the stakes are arguably much higher if it can’t make its plan work.