So far, if you wanted to save gas and if you didn’t want to suffer a coronary from range anxiety, you bought yourself a hybrid. The problem: They are expensive. You choose to pay Big Car instead of Big Oil. Don’t despair: Ye olde ICE still has a lot of fight in it.
Daihatsu plans to launch the e:S minivehicle next year in Japan, which can travel 30km on a single liter of gasoline. That’s about 70 mpg (non-EPA.) According to The Nikkei [sub], the car is comes with an idling stop system, and exhaust gas is recirculated to power the engine. The minivehicle is likely to sell for less than 1 million yen in Japan, or around $12,000.
Suzuki is likewise working on even more fuel efficient minivehicles, in response to “louder consumer calls for better fuel efficiency,” says President Osamu Suzuki.
These low powered cars with pint-sized engines will likely never appear on U.S. shores.
But subcompacts are turning out ever increasing mpg numbers. Nissan’s Micra gets 26 km per liter (around 60 mpg, non-EPA.) It’s cheap, and no wonder that it sold 22,000 units since launched in July, five times more than expected.
Mazda is working on a subcompact to be launched next year that promises a mileage comparable to hybrids.
With all the growth being in emerging markets where the price of a car plays a huge role, focusing on simple, low cost, fuel efficient offerings doesn’t sound like a bad idea.