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Auto blogSun, 25 May 2014 16:31:00 EST
Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Daihatsu have announced an alliance that will see a push to improve fuel economy from both gas-powered and diesel-powered engines by as much as 30 percent before the end of the decade.
The newly assembled Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines put the roughly $20-million project together, with the Japanese government committing to half the cost while the eight manufacturers will chip in the rest.
According to Automotive News, the automakers will team up and share basic research on internal-combustion engines in a bid to cut costs. Eventually, the results of the research will find its way into a production vehicle, although it's unclear just when we'll see the fruits of this partnership on the road.
Takashi Yamanouchi has been with Mazda for a long time. He signed on with the Japanese automaker in April 1967 - one month after graduating from Keio University - and rose through the ranks over the years. By 1996 he was named to the company's board of directors. In 2008 he was named president and CEO, an office he held until 2013, after which he handed over the day-to-day reins to Masamichi Kogai and took up the seat at the head of the board room to serve as the company's chairman. But now, after 47 years working for Mazda, Yamanouchi-san is retiring at the age of 69.
During his tenure as CEO and then as chairman, Yamanouchi was credited with growing Mazda's business despite unfavorable fluctuations in exchange rates, opening the company's first plant in Mexico, and spearheading the development of Mazda's Skyactiv technologies and Kodo design language.
In his place, current vice chairman Seita Kanai will take over as chairman. The changing of the guard will take place after the annual shareholders' meeting on June 24.
Mazda has a lot going on these days, what with launching the new Mazda6 and Mazda3, with the new Mazda2 just around the corner. We know the new Miata is also on the way, and after that it looks like the next vehicle in its lineup due for an overhaul is the CX-9 crossover, due to launch by 2016. The move makes sense because the CUV is growing long in the tooth. It was first introduced in 2007 and was refreshed twice since then.
The next-generation CX-9 will move away from Ford-derived components like the V6 in the current model and will likely use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. However, a final decision hasn't been made yet. "If I ask Mr. Hitomi, our top guy of powertrains at Mazda, he believes the downsizing turbo solution costs more. But real downsizing means six-cylinder to four-cylinder turbo could make sense from a cost point of view," said Mazda's global marketing boss Masahiro Moro to CarAdvice at the New York Auto Show. The executive said a hybrid powertrain option would be unlikely, but markets outside the US could get a diesel, as well.
Moro also tipped his hand at future Mazda model plans. He hints that the Japanese automaker is considering building a luxury vehicle with a six-cylinder engine. "It's too early, we don't have a car yet. But we are collecting advice as to V6 or straight-six," he said to CarAdvice. We'll definitely be watching.