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Mazda MAZDA3, Mazda MAZDASPEED MAZDA3, Hatchback, Sedan
#338 of 437 Re: Motor motivators [autonomous]
Mar 15, 2012 (5:24 pm)
A decision sheet evaluated the Value proposition of competing vehicles. Some models while offering powerful engines were offset by excess weight and poor fuel economy; others while appearing to be a bargain were lacking in some important element (e.g. 4 disc brakes) and/or had higher financing charges. Eventually I narrowed the choice down to the 2011 Mazda3 hatchback 2.0L GX model at 0% financing for 5 years. Also, being an existing Mazda Protege5 owner, I knew the meaning of ZoomZoom already.
Yeah, with the rising yen, there have been a lot of trade offs to hold the line on the MSRPs in the U.S. With the Mazda3, for example, they eliminated the 6-CD changer from the Bose/moonroof package, but only lowered the price from $1,500 to $1,400. They also moved the HID headlights from a standard feature on the Grand Touring trim to something you can only get after tacking on the $1,500 Technology Package.
And it's not just the option packages where manufacturers have done some cost cutting. From your example, I'm surprised at how many manufacturers have gone back to standard rear drum brakes. And now you have VW downgrading the rear suspensions on the new Jettas and Passats to torsion bar setups, while the rest of the world still gets multilink rear suspensions with those models. At least with Mazda, so far they have avoided any significant downgrades with basic mechanicals.
p.s. I was wary of the SkyActiv technology in its first year, but so far, it appears to be a robust technology and an excellent value at current fuel prices.
Well, as far as I know Consumer Reports' current reliability rankings (which place Mazda at #2) do not yet account for the Skyactiv models. I actually expect Mazda to take a hit next year once CR adds the Skyactiv models to their rankings. CR had a blog post last year where they indicated that the reliability for a particular car model will typically improve by ~15% from the time that a particular generation is first introduced through its third production year. Often these moves up the reliability rankings indicate not much more than how old a company's car models are. Conversely, a drop in the rankings often indicate a large number of new models and/or technologies, as evidenced by Ford whose reliability rankings were hurt by a flurry of new introductions and the widespread introduction of touchscreen controls and dual clutch transmissions.
With Mazda, last year they did not introduce any new models (except the Mazda5) while dropping the RX-8 and Tribute. This year, they will have potentially three updated models (Mazda3, CX-5, and Mazda6) plus an all-new engine series and two new transmissions.
I bought the Skyactiv Mazda3 because it best met my shopping criteria, but I am aware of the risks inherent in buying a first production model with any new drivetrain design. Even the Ford Focus, which went out on a limb with brand new touchscreen and transmission designs, simply uses a direct injected version of the Duratec/MZR engine that it shared/s with Mazda and hasn't had reliability issues. In my test drives, I found the Skyactiv engine more refined than the Focus' Duratec GDI engine, but it is also more unproven over the long haul.
#339 of 437 Signals of downgrades? [woochifer]
Mar 16, 2012 (7:15 am)
Interesting. I agree that the yen is forcing a bunch of tradeoffs and that Mazda, so far, has "avoided significant downgrades". What I find a little more troubling is that Mazda in responding to the impact of this currency problem is considering moving more of their production offshore (i.e. away from their Hiroshima, Japan facility) and that Mexico is rumored to be a future possibility for vehicles destined for the North American market. I am revealing a bias by saying "made in Japan" (and "made in Wolfsburg") are one of the best indicators of quality in the automotive market.
The problems with the Ford Focus of late are a shame as many of us were anticipating with great interest the introduction of the "European" version into the North American landscape. The strategy to pack MyFord into several models without adequate testing seems to have blackened the eye of Ford. Ford is not alone in this premature rollout of "newer, better, improved" models. In the recent past Consumer Reports showed how even the mighty Toyota, Honda, etc. failed with their latest models. The gist of the article was that it takes auto manufacturers frequently 2 to 3 years to work out the kinks from its newest models. The good news is that Mazda's SkyActiv technology has not had to be recalled but rather seems to be spreading across their product line.
#340 of 437 Re: Signals of downgrades? [autonomous]
Mar 16, 2012 (10:19 am)
If you want to hold the line on price in the face of rising costs SOMETHING has to give. Given that some of Ford's products built in Mexico have turned out to be very reliable, I don't hold any bias regarding "made" anywhere. These days it has to do more with the process and procedures in place, as well as the attitude of the workforce. Both of those have more to do with corporate culture than they do factory location.
I hope Mazda's Mexican plant is very successful, and supplies us with many fun SkyActiv zoom-zoom-mobiles in the future. And I hope that money they save makes them many profits to reinvest into more fun things to put into our cars.
#341 of 437 Re: - [wwest]
Mar 16, 2012 (11:13 am)
"I was pointing out what the average stick shift driver DOESN'T pay enough attention to, I care not where that attention wanders off to.
My point was that the average driver doesn't pay close enough attention (the mind wanders), consistently so, to the task of most proper shifting insofar as FE is concerned to result in manual transmissions, overall, yeilding better FE than automatics. "
Couldn't be further from the truth. The EPA tests do require attention to shifting to keep up with the acceleration requirements of the test, however that shifting is much more aggressive than a non attentive stick shift driver.
You absolutely don't have to be paying attention to shifting to beat the EPA numbers. The EPA tests on the stick shift CX-5 are good numbers, but that does not mean they are any less valid than the numbers for the automatic.
#342 of 437 Re: Signals of downgrades? [bpizzuti]
Mar 16, 2012 (12:01 pm)
I hope Mazda's Mexican plant is very successful
#343 of 437 Re: Signals of downgrades? [autonomous]
Mar 16, 2012 (3:17 pm)
What I find a little more troubling is that Mazda in responding to the impact of this currency problem is considering moving more of their production offshore (i.e. away from their Hiroshima, Japan facility) and that Mexico is rumored to be a future possibility for vehicles destined for the North American market. I am revealing a bias by saying "made in Japan" (and "made in Wolfsburg") are one of the best indicators of quality in the automotive market.
The issue Mazda's running into is that they make a higher proportion of their cars in Japan than anyone, which leaves them very vulnerable to currency and supply chain fluctuations. Mazda's also about to phase out the U.S. production line that they jointly operate with Ford, where they build the Mazda6. The new Mazda6 coming out this fall will be built in Japan, which will make Mazda's production even more concentrated in Japan.
My understanding is that Mazda's Mexico plant is intended to serve the domestic Mexican market and South America, where Mazda sales have been growing. From what I've read, the initial plan is to continue to make most of the cars destined for the U.S. in Japan, but obviously having a plant in Mexico would make the switchover to Mexican production for U.S. models relatively easy to do.
The problems with the Ford Focus of late are a shame as many of us were anticipating with great interest the introduction of the "European" version into the North American landscape. The strategy to pack MyFord into several models without adequate testing seems to have blackened the eye of Ford.
Ford had been doing very well until the debacle with MyFordTouch and their dual clutch transmissions. Irony is that the Mexican-built Ford Fusions have had an excellent reliability record, certainly better than the American-built Focus and IIRC even better than the Mazda6, which shares its platform with the Fusion.
#344 of 437 Re: Signals of downgrades? [woochifer]
Mar 19, 2012 (7:14 am)
ALERT: TANGENT BELOW!
I'm sure Ford will come through this tough patch. But, this is an era of frenetic change where many good companies are suffering under excruciating competition. This form of competition sometimes leads to the thinning of the herd down to one or two players resulting ironically in more limited choice. Examples abound. In Canada, RIM (the maker of the Blackberry), a highly successful and profitable company, went through an arduous period in the last couple of years with the amazing rise of Apple. You have to hope that there is room enough for a number of players so that we can have choices in the future. Choices like Mazda!
#345 of 437 Re: Signals of downgrades? [autonomous]
Mar 19, 2012 (9:51 am)
Sorry, but the "state" of Blackberry had more to with the patent lawsuit and the outcome of same.
I find it interesting to the extreme that is is Mazda and not Ford that has taken advantage of the FE aspects of DFI while Ford as gone after buyers with the "boy-racer", 0-60, mentality. Up to now it has been Ford that led Mazda into the world of high technology.
Can't say I don't understand Mazda's wish for a divorce.
Mazda..Skyactive...Adoption of DFI which allowed a base/native compression ratio increase to 12:1 or even 14:1, yeilding a substantively increased FE along with a reasonable increase in HP/torque.
Ford...EcoBoost (TwinForce)...Adoption of DFI but also turbo boost. Taking avantage of the ability to increase the compression ratio but only with BOOST, less than 1% of the time. The remainder of the time, ~99%, the time, the EcoBoost/TwinForce engine runs in derated/detuned mode, substandard CR.
One can only hope that by the time the C-Max comes to market later this year Ford will have learned their lesson and adopted/licensed the SkyActiv technology from Mazda, a real role reversal, that.
#346 of 437 engine performance
Mar 19, 2012 (10:18 am)
#347 of 437 Message to Ford.
Mar 19, 2012 (10:21 am)
If you wish to sell to those of the "boy-racer", 0-60, mentality, definitely a DEEP-POCKET minority "set", while at the same time having appeal to the MAJORITY, GROWING MAJORITY....$5 gallon soon, more probably than otherwise. Then combine the 2 technologies.
Use SkyActive for the majority market.
For the MINORITY market add an $4,000.00 option (equal to the current EcoBoost markup).
Base/native CR cognizant with the use of DFI, 12:1 or even 14:1. Then increase the "virtual" CR under BOOST by (pre-)CHILLING (34F?) a volume of coolant using the A/C. The REQUIRED intercooler could serve as a storage reservoir/accumulator provided the intake airflow routing was bypassed(***) except for the ~1% Boost periods.
Eliminate the throttle plate by adding a variable volume positive displacment SC. Variable frequency AC inverter providing power to the permanent magnetic synchronous AC motor driving the SC.
*** The intake airflow bypasses the pre-chilled intercooler unless the the accelerator pedal position dictates the use of BOOST. The level of Boost pressure would then dictate the amount of flow directed, diverted, through the intercooler in much the way that modern day HVAC systems make use of the reheat/remix airflow path to moderate the air outflow temperature.
Net HP/torque increase above current EcoBoost/TwinForce for equivalent engine displacement volume could be 30-50%.