By on July 19, 2011

Doesn’t it bug you that you have to shell out loads of money in order to save gas? Here comes a fuel sipper that won’t suck your wallet dry. No fancy electronics, no heavy batteries, and it even so gets 30km per liter of gasoline (according to the JC08 standard,) which translates to a non-EPA, but nonetheless jaw-dropping 70 mpg. According to The Nikkei [sub], Toyota’s Kei car subsidiary Daihatsu “has developed technology that will enable it to offer the only [gasoline powered] car in the world” that gets these numbers without hybrid technology.

The technology is called “e:S” which simply stands for “energy saving.” It had been showcased fist at the 2009 Tokyo Motorshow. Now it is ready to be released into the wild. The first e:S minivehicle will be released in Japan in September, at a likewise jaw-dropping price of under 800,000 yen ($10,000).

According to Daihatsu, that “e:S” technology is as simple as this:

  • A new engine with maximized combustion efficiency and minimized energy loss
  • Continuously variable transmission (CVT) with higher power transmission efficiency
  • Shell body streamlined to achieve a weight reduction of around 60 kg*3
  • Air resistance, rolling resistance and other running resistance lowered
  • Thermal management in the engine room
  • A new Eco-Idle system with pre-stop idle reduction functions
  • Eco power generation control (with regenerative braking functions)

 

 

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44 Comments on “Finally: Fuel Savings On The Cheap...”


  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Unfortunately, we’ll never see this car here, it seems like if you want to be a conservationist, you get hit hard in the pocket with expensive technology like hybrid and turbos and electric. I believe a simple no-nonsense car like this would be welcomed here.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I don’t know if you are or aren’t correct, but if you are ultimately proven right, not being able to get this car in the U.S. would be idiocy at it finest.

      For those who wish to see the use of true fuel sipping cars populate the roads of America, this, and not the Chevy Volt or even Toyota Prius, is the closest thing to an answer, at 1/4 and 1/3 the cost of either, respectively, yet yielding as good or better MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        MarkD

        I owned a Daihatsu Kei car in Japan back in the 1970s. It was a two cycle with a 360cc displacement, which was the limit in those days. It would hit 100 KPH on a slight downhill with no passengers. In other words, it couldn’t reach the legal speed limit on an American freeway.

        In a collision, well, it would have been better than a motorcycle.

        There were no freeways in Western Japan at that time. Route 2 had a speed limit of 30 KPH and the roads were very narrow, and buildings fronted the road with no space for parking. The cars were tiny, because the roads were tiny.

        It’s not a good fit for the US and I doubt that we will see anything like it, uness oil prices get a lot worse for a long time.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        not being able to get this car in the U.S. would be idiocy at it finest.

        The car would be shorter and more narrow than a Fiat 500, with an engine of less than half of its size. (Kei cars are limited to a 660 cc engine.) There’s no market for that in the US, or for that matter, just about anywhere outside of Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        @Pch101 “There’s no market for that in the US, or for that matter, just about anywhere outside of Japan.”
        How about pretty much all of Europe? We’ve made do with tiny little hatchbacks since WW2 – I’m pretty sure with current gas prices people would jump at the chance for something incredibly cheap and incredibly fuel efficient.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        How about pretty much all of Europe?

        If there was a market for them, somebody would already be building them. But they aren’t.

        We’ve made do with tiny little hatchbacks since WW2

        I don’t think that some of you appreciate how tiny these Kei cars are. They’re smaller and narrower than your A-class subcompacts, and their engine sizes are limited to 660 cubic centimeters. The maximum permitted length is just slightly longer than a Smart, but the maximum width is even narrower. Their size and engine displacement are driven by Japanese regulations and tax laws that favor these over larger cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Not sure you’re aware of how small some European cars are. I’ve personally owned a 1997 Fiat Cinquecento and a 2007 Ford KA. Both have dimensions which are practically the same as Kei cars (the KA is maybe 6 inches wider and longer). Yes the engines tend to be a little bigger (900cc and 1298cc), but power outputs tend to be only marginally more than the Kei cars.
        The Suzuki Alto is the only Kei car I can think of that is currently sold in Europe – but that has the ‘big’ 1000cc engine.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Not sure you’re aware of how small some European cars are. I’ve personally owned a 1997 Fiat Cinquecento and a 2007 Ford KA.

        I referenced the most recent Fiat 500 above, which is larger than it used to be and is larger than any Kei car.

        The Ka is also larger than a Kei — about eight inches longer, and more than one foot wider. The Ka is definitely a bigger car.

        The closest thing to a Kei car in Europe is Smart, which has not been profitable in Europe. It would appear that there is no market.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        The closest thing to a Kei car in Europe is Smart, which has not been profitable in Europe. It would appear that there is no market.

        I think the Smart is hampered by its horrible transmission and high price. From what I can tell, they don’t offer a manual even in Europe. Maybe a less expensive car of the same size and with a better transmission would succeed.

        I agree that North America is not yet ready for cars this small in any significant quantity. If sales of subcompact cars really take off someday, that would be an indicator that the market may be ready for something even smaller. Personally, I wouldn’t go smaller than a compact considering the average size of the other vehicles on our roads.

      • 0 avatar
        Bimmer

        Pch101,

        first generation of smart that was sold in Canada had all of 600cc diesel with… 40hp! And it was highway capable!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I believe a simple no-nonsense car like this would be welcomed here.

      I’m not sure how well a car that claims to seat four but has a wheelbase nearly 1′ shorter than a Mini would do.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Depends if you are putting beef-fed, or sushi-fed legs behind the driver’s seats…

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        The smart is hampered by its mileage rating and capability. If it came with the diesel other markets enjoy and the corresponding high mileage (60+ mpg), they’d sell a bunch more. But in light of its price, middling performance, and premium fuel requirement, the smart is simply manhandled by other offerings that can do a whole lot more for similar amounts of money.

        The car pictured above, if offered in the $10000 range, with 60-70mpg capability? Daihatsu/Toyota would sell a ton of them. The question, is can they afford to do so profitably?

  • avatar
    obruni

    ““has developed technology that will enable it to offer the only car in the world” that gets these numbers without hybrid technology.”

    what?!

    the Polo/Fabia/Ibiza each have a trim level that is rated at over 70mpg, likewise for the Fiesta and Volvo C30.

    let us not forget the Smart diesel, which has over 80mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      the Polo/Fabia/Ibiza each have a trim level that is rated at over 70mpg, likewise for the Fiesta and Volvo C30.

      Imperial gallons (used in the UK) are larger than American gallons. (Also, the US EPA test cycle is more conservative, so the US test will produce lower numbers.) Therefore, UK and US MPG figures are not directly comparable.

      let us not forget the Smart diesel, which has over 80mpg.

      When compared by liquid measure, diesel has more oil (carbon) in it. It isn’t directly comparable to gasoline, either.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Personally, I don’t know why we could not see this car here. After all, we have the smart by MB, so why not this, too? Politics would be the only factor, in my opinion. Perhaps safety regulations is another factor, so it would have to weigh 3200 lbs. and the mpgs would then only be 42 mpg and cost 27K. No Deal! By a Cruze ECO instead.

  • avatar
    Jerith

    Will this make the Smart look like a high performance vehicle?

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Honestly I wish we could get all the Kei cars here. It would give me an all weather alternative to my scooter.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The Cruze Eco is double the cost of this one.

  • avatar

    Fiat 500 2-cylinder with stop/start technology.

    There! I said it! Now add it to the production line in Mexico (for cost savings) and sell it here in the US for about $11,000.

    Are you listening Sergio?

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Nobody in the US is going to buy a Fiat 500 with the 900cc I2 engine. Selling a car with less than a hundred horsepower, in the US, in the 21st century, is a non-starter. Sergio is a lot of things but he isn’t stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I seem to recall a lot of Japanese compacts with right around 100 HP selling briskly in the U.S. back in the 90s.

        You could even drive them at well above legal highway speeds in comfort and get great fuel economy.

        These cars had generic, fuel injected motors.

        Getting well over 100 HP and fantastic fuel economy today, with the use of new turbo/diesel/FI technology, even at the 1.2 to 1.4 liter benchmark, should not pose any serious impediments.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        And the Fiat 500 is already doing that: the US version has the 1.4L I4 “MultiAir” engine with its fancy computerized hydraulic valvetrain. It puts out 101 hp and is basically acceptable given the car’s size and price point.

        The 0.9L I2 turbo, rated optimistically at 84 hp, that they’re using in Europe, isn’t going to do well here, even if it gets 50 MPG. At that point you’re pushing too close to Smart territory, and look at how poorly Smart is doing.

      • 0 avatar
        evan

        Its amazing to me how many car ‘experts’ don’t understand power-to-weight and the fun-to-drive quotient of small cars – and then belittle anyone who does… A Fiat 500 for just a bit over $10,000 – 100 bhp engine or not – would kill in the US. Economically, consider $4 a gallon gas and the disappearing middle class, etc. Its a changed world.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        A Fiat 500 for just a bit over $10,000 – 100 bhp engine or not – would kill in the US.

        It would kill Chrysler. They couldn’t sell them that cheaply and expect to make a profit.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    I have a 3 miles one way commute, I’d love something like this if the price was under $10k.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    Maybe I am missing something, but this sounds like a mild hybrid system, so I’d assume there are a few bits of fancy electronics and batteries over a conventional car?

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      “A new Eco-Idle system with pre-stop idle reduction functions
      Eco power generation control (with regenerative braking functions)”

      I believe that’s PR-speak for auto-shutoff at idle and an alternator clutch that only engages when the lead battery starts to sag or under braking (see BMW, Mini). No mild hybrid here.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    It still needs imported oil to get you from point A to B unlike the Volt or Leaf. Keep it!

  • avatar

    If enthusiasts are scratching their heads over why automakers don’t listen to them 99% of the time, this is why.

    The Daihatsu and other Kei cars are simply not meant for American roads. A lot of people here can’t seem to wrap their heads around that fact.

    If you really want to save fuel, you’re better off with a used subcompact and a bus pass. Or a bike.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      In what way are they not meant for American Roads? A Daihatsu Move has a top speed of 87 mph. That’s fast enough for most US roads. In the past, I’ve driven vehicles with approximately the power of the current kei cars in the US and never had a problem.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    Really, I don’t get the hysteria of saving fuel vs. spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new car. Yeah so my old Volvo 240 gets 22-24mpg; my commute is maybe 8 miles round trip. I really wouldn’t care if gasoline hit $6/gallon because I fill up once a month, if that. I wouldn’t be better off with a Fiat 500, though I sure want one.

    People who pay premiums for hybrids/diesels can’t or won’t do basic math to calculate the payback, if any.

  • avatar
    Herm

    The Mitsubishi iMiev Kei has recently been certified in the US (as a BEV), they enlarged it a bit and added some enlarged bumpers to it.. still looks like a Kei car and easily seats 4

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    In the 70/s I drove a Beetle surrounded by behemoths of every kind and I never had any problems keeping up with traffic until I got my 1st 4 cyl with a slush box and then it was a different story.

  • avatar

    Please look at my patented bumper invention that can make these small cars much safer in collisions.

    http://www.safersmallcars.com


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