The news out of Japan last week suggests there are fuel economy gains yet to be made out of the good, old gasoline engine - BIG fuel economy gains.
Toyota last week said its redesigned Vitz (Yaris) subcompact car with a 1.3-litre gas engine and an idling-stop system has the best fuel efficiency of any gas vehicle outside of minicars and gasoline-electric hybrids. How good is the new Vitz/Yaris? When launched in Japan later this month, the car will get 26.5 km per litre, or in Canadian fuel economy-speak, 3.77 litres/100 km (62.33 miles per gallon in the U.S.).
Some perspective: In Japan, the fuel efficiency of the current model equipped with a 1.0-litre gas engine and start-stop is 24.5 km/litre or 4.1 litres/100 km (57.6 mpg).
Toyota isn't the only auto maker pushing hard to deliver super-efficient internal combustion engines. Mazda will start launching new gasoline and diesel engines with amazing fuel economy numbers within the next year.
Ford, meanwhile, says it is "rallying" around fuel economy in developing new models. Hyundai argues it is focused on creating the most fuel efficient fleet of vehicles in North America. Honda is pushing hard to re-claim greatness on the fuel efficiency front and…
The truth is, every major auto maker is publicly embracing fuel economy. What's interesting is that not one of them is relying solely on exotic technologies to squeeze more kilometres out of a litre of fuel.
If this keeps up, some auto makers certainly will find it more difficult to make the case for electric vehicles, gasoline-electric hybrids and other expensive and largely unproven "green" technologies. Why would the consumer switch to something so new, when good cars with fuel-sipping gas engines are far less expensive, not to mention essentially risk-free?
By the way, the new Vitz/Yaris should arrive in Canada next year, though details about pricing and the power trains to be offered by Toyota Canada are scarce as hen's teeth.
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