Positive Post Of The Day: Mazda To Add Lightness

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Brace yourself ladies and gentlemen, because an automaker is taking on one of the American market’s greatest bugbears: size and weight bloat. Mazda’s vehicles have gained 80 pounds on average with each recent redesign, according to Robert Davis, senior vice president of product development and quality for Mazda North American Operations. Davis tells Automotive News [sub] that increases are coming “mostly in larger tires and wheels, and safety equipment,” resulting in a 2010 Mazda3 that weighs 2,868 pounds compared to a 2003 Protege’s 2,634 pounds. And, says Davis, that’s all about to change. He promises “typical” weight reductions of 220 pounds per vehicle on future Mazda models, through a combination of measures. For one thing, dimensional creep is a thing of the past, with some Mazda models scheduled to lose as much as three inches in length.

Improved packaging should help reduce the impact on interior feel, while the use of more light-weight materials should also help decrease overall mass and weight. Though Davis does warn that “carbon-fiber roofs and hoods are great for a BMW M5, but they are not viable in our cost structure.” The weight reduction will not only improve fuel economy between three and five percent, it will also allow the use of more efficient engines without losing Mazda’s trademark sporty feel. And, frankly, it will provide a wonderful example to automakers like Honda who built their brands on light-weight, fun-to-drive cars before succumbing to dimensional and weight bloat over the past decade. Weight is not only the enemy of efficiency, it’s also the enemy of fun. If Mazda is serious about differentiating its vehicles with lower weights (and efficiency numbers on the last two generations of Mazda3s indicate that it probably should), this could possibly just herald a new trend that’s been a long time coming to the US market. Setting concrete goals like a 220 pound average reduction per vehicle is just the kind of challenge to the industry we’ve been looking for.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Don1967 Don1967 on Nov 13, 2009

    Kudos to Mazda. Of all the cars I've owned over the past quarter-century, a lowly 2,200-pound Civic Si still stands out as one of my favourites. The closer we can get to that standard while still meeting safety regulations, the better.

  • Rob Hester Rob Hester on Nov 13, 2009

    This is great and all, and I do love Mazda's...the problem is that most of their top-sellers have had a recent refresh so how long are we gonna have to wait to see the results. That's assuming they'll be good to their word. And where's the Mazda2?

    • Demetri Demetri on Nov 13, 2009

      The US spec of the Mazda 2 will be at the LA Auto show. It's going to be a 2011 model year car, and will probably be released next autumn. But you're right, the Mazda 3 and 6 were redesigned for MY2009 and 2010. The 2 started with MY2008 I believe. It will be a while before we see any results.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.