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Category Archives: Automotive

Mazda ‘CX-8’ SUV Comes With 3 Rows of Seats

Mazda Motor Corp announced “CX-8,” a new SUV (sport utility vehicle) having three rows of seats.

The CX-8, which will be released Dec 14, 2017, in Japan, is the largest SUV that Mazda targets at the Japanese market. It has the same platform with the “CX-9” large-size SUV, which the company sells in North America and other overseas markets.

mazda cx-8 suv having 3 rows of seat

The price of the CX-8 ranges from ¥3,196,800 (approx US$28,406) to 4,190,400. Mazda plans to sell 1,200 units of the vehicle per month.

“In Japan, minivans are mainly used as cars for many passengers, but they are gradually being replaced with SUVs having two or three rows of seats,” Mazda President Masamichi Kogai said at a press conference that the company had Sept 14, 2017, in Tokyo. “We will trFront view of the mazda cx-8 suvy to create a new market that replaces the minivan market.”

“We will change the common sense that cars for many passengers are equal to ‘box cars,'” said a Mazda engineer who was responsible for the development of the CX-8.

The development of the CX-8 started in about 2014, he said. The development of the CX-9, a large-size SUV targeted at the North American market, was preceding that of the CX-8.

“We decided to consider an SUV that has three rows of seats and is suited for the Japanese market, by using the CX-9’s platform,” the engineer said.

In parallel with the development of the CX-8, Mazda decided to withdraw from the minivan market. The company finished selling the “MPV” in 2016 and will stop the production of “Biante” at the end of September 2017. And the production of the remaining minivan, “Premacy,” is scheduled to be finished within fiscal 2017.

The CX-8 SUV is a new SUV that Mazda will release after “setting a stage.”Rear and side view of the mazda cx-8 suv

“(In the aim of appealing to minivan owners,) we made improvements to the packaging so that all the passengers including those sitting on the third row of seats can feel comfortable,” the engineer said.

The third row of seats, which tends to be narrow in an SUV, was designed so that 170cm-tall adults can spend time without discomfort.

When the number of rows of seats is increased to three, the mass of the vehicle increases, affecting the traveling performance. The heaviest model of the CX-8 can be 1,900kg in weight. It is about 200kg heavier than Mazda’s “CX-5” five-seat SUV, whose width is the same as that of the CX-8 (1,840mm).

To comfortably drive the vehicle, whose weight is close to 2t, Mazda made changes to the “Skyactiv-D 2.2” 2.2L diesel engine. While the company has been using the engine since 2012, this time, it has made the largest improvement since the engine was introduced, the engineer said.

This time, the maximum output and maximum torque of the engine were increased by 11kW and 30N·m, respectively, to 140kW and 450N·m. This was achieved mainly by replacing its two-stage turbocharger with a new model. In addition, Mazda employed a technology to spray fine mist of a small amount of fuel at a high pressure in multiple steps.

Mazda cx-8 suv skyactiv engine

The CX-8 uses the same platform as the CX-9, and its wheelbase (2,930mm) is the same as that of the CX-9. While the CX-8 also uses the same suspension mechanism as the CX-9, Mazda adjusted damping force for the CX-8. The CX-8 measures 4,900 (L) x 1,840 (W) x 1,730mm (H), and its riding capacity is six or seven people.

The exterior design of the CX-8 has much in common with the CX-5.

“We use the same parts especially for the front parts,” Mazda said.

Specifically, the CX-8 and CX-5 use the same front bumper, front door panels, etc.


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Toyota Fully Remodels ‘Camry’ Sedan

Toyota Motor Corp has fully remodeled the “Camry” mid-size sedan for the first time in six years and released it July 10, 2017.

Toyota developed a platform and a power train for the new Camry by using “TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture),” which shares parts across segments. The new vehicle combines a 2.5L engine and the “THS II” hybrid system. Its fuel efficiency is 33.4km/L (approx 78.6mpg).

The new Camry is manufactured at Toyota’s Tsutsumi Plant. It aims to sell 2,400 units per month. Its price starts from ¥3,294,000 (approx US$29,379, including tax).

The most distinguishing feature of the new Camry is that it is equipped with a newly-developed engine having a thermal efficiency of 41%. It is a 2.5L in-line four-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine and reported to be the successor to the existing “2AR” engine.

Front view of the new toyota camry rear view of the new toyota camry

Thus far, Toyota has already developed new models of the “Prius,” “C-HR,” etc by using the TNGA, but only the underbody has been shared by them. Starting from the new 2.5L engine, the company will promote the sharing of power trains, planning to adopt design guidelines to be shared by nine kinds (17 variations) of engines by 2021.

Interior of the new toyota camry

For the Japanese market, Toyota released only a hybrid (HEV) model of the new Camry. The THS II was developed based on the hybrid system that is used for the fourth-generation Prius and designed for FF (front-engine, front-wheel-drive) vehicles. Compared with the existing combination of a 2.5L engine and a hybrid system, the new system reduces the time it takes to increase speed from 40 to 70km/h (approx 24.9-43.5mph) by 10% and improves fuel efficiency by 20% under the JC08 test mode.

engine room of the new toyota camry

The maximum output and maximum torque of the engine are 131kW and 221N·m, respectively. The maximum output and maximum torque of the new Camry’s motor are 88kW and 202N·m. It is equipped with a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. The vehicle measures 4,885 (L) x 1,840 (W) x 1,445mm (H), and its wheelbase is 2,825mm.

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Toyota Remodels ‘Lexus NX’ Compact SUV

Toyota Motor Corp partially remodeled the “Lexus NX” compact SUV (sport utility vehicle).

In addition to its sporty design, the new model comes with a preventive safety system as a standard feature. It was unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2017. In Japan, it is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2017.

Remodelled lexus nx

The first model of the Lexus NX debuted as the first compact SUV of the Lexus brand in 2014. About three years have passed since then. And this is the first time that the vehicle has been remodeled.

As for the external design, its front bumper is sharper and has a lower center of gravity, compared with the previous model. The “spindle grille” of its front grille has a design similar to that of the “Lexus LX” and “RX” for realizing a sense of unity.

The three-eye headlight features a “sharp, sporty shape” because Toyota employed a small-size LED lamp unit, the company said. The company also employed a three-eye compact LED headlight for the new “Lexus LC” high-class sports coupe.

three-eye led headlight of the lexus nx

The new NX is equipped with the “Lexus Safety System+” safety support system package as a standard feature. It features (1) an automatic braking system capable of detecting pedestrians, (2) lane departure warning function and (3) high beam system that partially blocks headlight and does not dazzle other drivers by using a camera to detect the tail lamps of preceding vehicles and the headlights of oncoming vehicles.

The Lexus NX comes in two models: the “NX300h” hybrid vehicle and “NX300” gasoline vehicle. The NX300h combines a 2.5L Atkinson cycle engine and two motors (generator and motor). The NX300 is equipped with a 2.0L in-line four-cylinder direct-injection turbo engine. The 2.0L engine model of the previous NX is called “NC200t,” but Toyota changed the name this time.

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Honda Announces HEV Model of ‘CR-V’

Honda Motor Co Ltd announced “CR-V Sport Hybrid,” a hybrid (HEV) model of the “CR-V,” at Auto Shanghai 2017, which took place from April 19, 2017.

cr-v hybrid suv cr-v sports hybrid

It combines a 2.0L Atkinson cycle engine with the “i-MMD” HEV system. It will be first released in China.

Honda also announced the new “CR-V Sport Turbo” equipped with a 1.5L engine and a turbocharger. Its transmission is CVT (continuously variable transmission). Its maximum output and maximum torque are 161kW and 243N·m, respectively.

cr-v side view


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New Subaru ‘XV’ Features Enhanced Safety, Driving Performance

Subaru Corp announced April 6, 2017, that it will release a fully-remodeled “Subaru XV” compact SUV (sport utility vehicle) May 24, 2017.

This time, Subaru employed the “Subaru Global Platform (SGP),” which is used for the new “Impreza” sports sedan released in October 2016, to improve collision safety.

Front View of the Subaru XV Rear View of the Subaru XV

The previous Subaru XV comes in two models: a 2.0L gasoline vehicle and a hybrid vehicle (HEV). On the other hand, the new XV is available as 2.0L and 1.6L gasoline vehicles. With the 1.6L model, Subaru aims to make the SUV more accessible and attract a wider range of users, Subaru President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said.

The price of the new Subaru XV starts from ¥2,138,400 (approx US$19,298). The company aims to sell 2,200 units of the vehicle per month.

In addition to the collision safety improved by the employment of the SGP, Subaru employed (1) airbags for pedestrian protection, (2) the “Eyesight ver.3” driving support system and (3) “Active Torque Pedaling,” which prevents the rear part of the vehicle from moving outward by applying the brakes to inner wheels at the time of making a turn for all the models of the new Subaru XV as standard features.

Interior of the Subaru XV

As a result of those measures, the company won 199.7 points in the “JNCAP” assessment, which Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and National Agency for Automotive Safety & Victims’ Aid (NASVA) conducted for comparative evaluation of automobile safety performance. And it was awarded with the “Grand Prize of Collision Safety Performance Evaluation” for fiscal 2016.

The minimum ground clearance of the new XV is 200mm, which is 65mm higher than that of the Impreza using the same SGP. However, the SGP was designed so that it can be applied to tall SUVs. So, it has a small roll and an improved danger avoidance performance, Subaru said.

The new vehicle is the first Subaru XV vehicle equipped with the “X-Mode” control function, which enhances the capability to drive on rough roads. It is the same function used for the “Forester” mid-size SUV. It optimally controls the driving force of four wheels even on a slippery road, improving hill-climbing performance.

The power trains of the new Subaru XV is the same as those of the new Impreza: a 1.6L port-injection engine and a 2.0L direct-injection engine to be combined with a CVT (continuously variable transmission). The maximum output and maximum torque of the 1.6L engine are 85kW and 148N·m, respectively, while those of the 2.0L engine are 113kW and 196N·m, as in the case of the engines of the new Impreza. The fuel efficiencies of the 1.6L and 2.0L models are 16.2km/L (approx 38.1mpg in the US) and 16.0-16.4km/L, respectively, under the JC08 test mode.

The 1.6L engine of the Subaru XV The CVT of the Subaru XV

The new XV measures 4,465 (L) x 1,800 (W) x 1,550mm (H, without roof rails), and its wheelbase is 2,670mm. Compared with the previous XV, the length, width and wheelbase increased by 15mm, 20mm and 30mm, respectively.

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Toyota Launches ‘Lexus LC’ High-class Coupe

Toyota Motor Corp released the “Lexus LC” high-class coupe March 16, 2017.

It is a production model of a vehicle that Toyota showed at Detroit Motor Show (NAIAS) 2016. The Lexus LC comes in two models: the “LC500” gasoline vehicle and the “LC500h” hybrid vehicle (HEV). Their prices are ¥13-14 million (approx US$117,043) and ¥13.5-14.5 million, respectively. The company aims to sell 550 units of the Lexus LC per month.

The Lexus LC on display

Toyota improved the rigidity of the body and reduced its weight by applying the newly-developed “GA-L” platform. Specifically, the company reduced the mass of the body by 100kg by using more high-tensile steel plate, aluminum (Al) alloy and CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic), compared with the case where those light-weight materials are not used.

Side View of the Lexus LC Rear View of the Lexus LC

The Lexus LC measures 4,770 (L) x 1,920 (W) x 1,345mm (H), and its wheelbase is 2,870mm. Compared with the “Lexus RC” sports coupe, the Lexus LC is 75mm longer, 80mm wider and 50mm lower, and its wheelbase is 140mm longer. The masses of the gasoline vehicle and HEV are 1,940-1,960kg and 2,220-2,240kg, respectively, depending on the grade.

Gasoline vehicle

For the power train of the gasoline vehicle, Toyota combined the “2UR-GSE” 5.0L V-8 engine and a newly-developed 10-speed AT (automatic transmission). Its maximum output and maximum torque are 351kW/7,100rpm and 540N·m/4,800rpm, respectively. Its fuel efficiency is 7.8km/L (approx 18.3mpg in the US) under the JC08 test mode

On the other hand, the HEV comes with the “Multi-stage Hybrid System,” which Toyota newly developed. It combines the “8GR-FXS” 3.5L V-6 gasoline engine with two motors.

The Lexus LC 10-speed  automatic transmission multi-stage hybrid system of the Lexus LC

The maximum output and maximum torque of the engine are 220kW/6,600rpm and 356N·m/5,100rpm, respectively. And the maximum output and maximum torque of the motor are 132kW and 300N·m.The maximum output of the entire system is 264kW, and its fuel efficiency is 15.8km/L under the JC08 test mode.


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Honda to Release New ‘Civic’ in Summer of 2017 in Japan

Honda Motor Co Ltd showed a concept car of the next-generation New “Civic” at Tokyo Auto Salon 2017, which took place from Jan 13 to 15, 2017, at Makuhari Messe.

New Civic Type R

Honda will offer three models of the new Civic; a hatchback, sedan and sports car. Those mass-produced models are scheduled to be released in the summer of 2017.

The power train of the new Civic is a 1.5L direct-injection engine with the “VTEC” variable valve timing (VVT) mechanism and a turbocharger. It is combined with either a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) or a six-speed manual transmission (MT).

Side View of the New Civic

The Civic is Honda’s world car. Since its debut in 1972, the company has sold about 24 million units of the Civic. The sedan is manufactured at Yorii Plant in Saitama Prefecture. The hatchback and sports car are manufactured at Swindon Plant of Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd, which is the company’s manufacturing base in the UK.

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Suzuki Remodels ‘Swift’ Compact 27.4km/L fuel efficiency achieved with mild HEV system

Suzuki Motor Corp announced a new model of the “Swift” compact car, one of its main products, Dec 27, 2016.

The weight of the new model, which was released Jan 4, 2017, is about 120kg lighter than that of the previous model. To reduce the weight, Suzuki employed a new platform designed for the B segment.

The new model is manufactured at Sagara Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The company aims to sell 3,000 units of the car per month. Its price starts from ¥1,343,520 (approx US$11,535).

The New Model Swift Front View of the New Model Swift

The new platform is called “Heartect.” Suzuki renovated the main frame structure and parts layout. As a result, the mass of the underbody became about 30kg lighter than that of the previous model. In addition, the company applied its weight-reduction techniques to the upper body, interior, exterior and seats, reducing the total mass of the car by about 120kg.

Side View of the New Model Swift Rear View of the New Model Swift

The power trains available for the new Swift are (1) a 1.2L in-line four-cylinder naturally-aspirated (NA) engine, (2) a mild hybrid (mild HEV) system combining the 1.2L engine and an integrated starter generator (ISG) and (3) a 1.0L in-line three-cylinder direct-injection turbo engine. The fuel efficiency of the mild HEV system is 27.4km/L (approx 64.4mpg) under the JC08 test mode.

Interior of the New Model Swift

1.2L NA engine
The 1.2L NA engine has two injectors per cylinder. Its combustion efficiency was improved by injecting fuel with smaller particles. Also, it is equipped with a hydraulic variable valve timing (VVT) mechanism for each of the suction and exhaust valves.

Its compression ratio is 12.5. The maximum output and maximum torque of the mild HEV system combining the ISG and a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery are 67kW/6,000rpm and 118N·m/4,400rpm, respectively. The ISG is manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Suzuki said. A five-speed manual transmission (MT) or a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) is combined.

1.0L turbo engine
For the 1.0L turbo engine, Suzuki employed a direct-injection system to reduce fuel consumption and prevent abnormal combustion by cooling air-fuel mixture. Unlike the 1.2L NA engine, it uses a VVT only on the suction side.

“It is an engine designed for the emerging market,” Suzuki said. “So, in consideration of cost, we used a VVT only on one side.”

The compression ratio of the 1.0L turbo engine is 10.0. Its maximum output and maximum torque are 75kW/5,500rpm and 150N·m/1,700-4,500rpm, respectively. A six-speed automatic transmission (AT) is combined.

Engine room of the New Model Swift HEV System of the new Model Swift

The new Suzuki Swift measures 3,840 (L) x 1,695 (W) x 1,500mm (H). It is 10mm shorter than the previous model. Its wheelbase is 2,450mm, which is 20mm wider than that of the previous model. Also, Suzuki enlarged luggage space and lowered the height of the front and rear seats, lowering total height by 10mm and improving the aerodynamic performance of the body.

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Mazda Announces Overview of New ‘CX-5’ SUV

Mazda Motor Corp announced the overview of the new “CX-5” SUV (sport utility vehicle) to be unveiled at Los Angeles Auto Show 2016, which is open to the public from Nov 18 to 27, 2016.The New CX-5

The CX-5 is scheduled to be released in Japan in February 2017 and in North America, Europe, etc after that.

This time, Mazda announced the overview of the North American model of the new CX-5. It is a C-segment vehicle and measures 4,545 (L) x 1,840 (W) x 1,690mm (H). Its wheelbase is 2,700mm. Compared with the current Japanese model, it is 5mm longer and 15mm lower. Its width and wheelbase are the same as those of the current Japanese model.

The new CX-5 will come with (1) the “Skyactiv-D 2.2” 2.2L diesel engine, (2) “Skyactiv-G 2.0” 2.0L direct-injection gasoline engine or (3) “Skyactiv-G 2.5” 2.5L direct-injection gasoline engine, depending on the market. Its transmission is a six-speed AT (automatic transmission) or six-speed MT (manual transmission).

The New CX-5 side view The New CX-5 Rear view

he torsional rigidity of the new CX-5’s body is 15.5% higher than that of the previous model’s body, realizing a higher stability. Also, the use of high-tensile steel plate was increased to improve collision safety. Specifically, Mazda employed a 1.2GPa-class steel plate for the front pillar and a 980MPa-class steel plate for the side sill and center pillar for the first time.

The Interior  of the New CX-5

For vehicle control, the new CX-5 is equipped with “G-Vectoring Control (GVC),” which is also used for the “Atenza” midsize sports car. The GVC stabilizes vehicle movement by controlling the output of an engine in accordance with road conditions such as curves.


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Honda Unveils New ‘NSX’ Sports Car

Honda Motor Co Ltd has fully remodeled the “NSX” sports car for the first time in 26 years and announced the car with specifications for the Japanese market.

The new NSX is a hybrid car equipped with the “Sport Hybrid SH-AWD” three-motor hybrid system, which combines a twin-motor unit capable of separately driving the right and left front wheels and an engine and a motor that drive the rear wheels. The largest difference from the vehicle with specifications for the US market is that the Japanese model uses carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) for its roof.

The price of the new NSX is ¥23.7 million (approx US$235,891, including tax). Honda started to accept preorders for the vehicle Aug 25, 2016, and will release it Feb 27, 2017.

Front View of the NSX

 The engine of the new NSX is a newly-developed 3.5L V6 direct-injection twin-turbo engine with a maximum output of 373kW and a maximum torque of 550N·m. The motor for the front wheels is a twin-motor unit (maximum output: 27kW, maximum torque: 73N·m) while the motor for the rear wheels is a direct drive motor (maximum output: 35kW, maximum torque: 148N·m) directly connected to the crankshaft of the engine.

The most distinguishing feature of the new NSX is its response speed that enables to quickly react to the driver’s intensions. Ted Klaus, who is responsible for the development of the new NSX, said that the reaction speed is as fast as 100ms. It was realized by (1) the vehicle’s packaging, (2) its rigid body and (3) the EV technology of the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.

The Rear-side View of the NSX

As in the case of the previous model, Honda employed the “mid-ship layout,” which places a large-mass engine near the front wheels rather than the rear wheels. In addition, the company optimized the layout by designing a compact main system. It placed heavy components mainly in the wheelbase and minimized the front and rear overhangs. As a result, yawing inertia moment was reduced, improving response speed.

Furthermore, Honda lowered the center of gravity and adjusted front/rear mass distribution to improve stability.

The rear view of the NSX

For the engine, Honda (1) set its V-bank angle at 75°, which is larger than normal (60°), (2) reduced cylinder head size by employing a swing arm-type compact valve train and (3) eliminated the need for an oil pan by employing a dry sump type, which uses a pump for circulating engine oil, in the aim of lowering the center of gravity.

As a result, the height of the top surface of the engine was lowered by about 60mm, compared with a wet sump type.

To reduce body weight and improve body rigidity, Honda replaced the aluminum (Al) alloy monocoque frame of the previous model with a space frame consisting of pipes and employed a multi-material method, which uses different materials for different parts.

For example, Honda uses a high-rigidity ablation-molded Al alloy for the part for connecting the suspension, which influences response speed, in the aim of keeping the designed chassis shape with a high accuracy.

The Interior of the NSX

Also, the company employed a three-dimensionally bent and quenched (3DQ) ultra-high-tensile steel tube for part of the front pillars in the aim of improving the rigidity of the roof and the visibility of a front view. The cross-section of the front pillar can be as small as 42 x 36mm at the time of assembling the vehicle, improving the visibility of a front view.

Furthermore, for the space frame, Honda frequently uses mechanical joining methods such as self-piercing rivet (SPR) and flow-drill screw (FDS) for joining components. The company reduced vehicle weight by decreasing the number of welded parts, preventing the distortion of the frame and simplifying the components.

The Frame of the NSX

On the other hand, the employment of the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD contributed to improving response speed by enabling to (1) quickly start moving and accelerate with the twin-motor unit leveraging the characteristics of motors, which can output a high torque even at low speeds, (2) eliminate the turbo lag of the engine by using the torque of the direct drive motor and (3) apply torque vectoring for using the driving force of a motor to make a curve.

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