Mazda will introduce a subcompact gas-powered vehicle in Japan next year that gets 70.5 miles per gallon, a model automakers say shows that combustion-powered cars can deliver fuel efficiency similar to hybrid vehicles. With a more efficient engine and transmission, and a frame and suspension system produced with lighter, high-tensile steel, the new Demio (called the Mazda 2 outside of Japan) is 30 percent more fuel efficient than similar models now produced by Mazda.
Models produced for the U.S. market will have a lower fuel economy rating because of different manufacturing requirements, but the vehicle will still use the same amount of fuel as a Toyota Prius, without the added costs of an electric motor and accompanying battery. The Demio represents a new class of gas-powered vehicles that automakers say can cut fuel consumption globally even more quickly than hybrids or electric vehicles since changes to the engines tend to be less expensive and can be implemented rapidly. Ford recently announced innovations that will improve the fuel economy of its Focus model by 17 percent, to about 40 miles per gallon.