Mazda's Hesitating Over Skyactiv-x For U.s. Market

Mazda's hesitating over Skyactiv-X for U.S. market

We've been watching Mazda roll out the 2.0-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv-X engine in Japan and Europe, waiting our turn. When European authorities released fuel economy information for the high-tech motor last June, we wrote, "Mazda has yet to make an official decision on timing for the U.S market's launch of the engine." Automotive News spoke to Mazda engineers in charge of the powertrain, and based on the answers AN got, the question might not be when we get the Skyactiv-X, but if. Seems that the automaker now isn't certain whether the cost/benefit analysis for the U.S. market favors the engine, and there's concern the 2.0-liter might not be powerful enough for us with its current output of 178 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. At the moment, our Mazda3 is served only with a 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine producing 186 hp and 186 lb-ft., not too far ahead of the Skyactiv-X. The Skyactiv-X would return better fuel economy, but requires a noteworthy price premium over the Skyactiv-G. The Truth About Cars says the Skyactiv-X has become the top-seller in the Japanese-market Mazda3, even though it costs 27% more than the base, 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G for a 9% improvement in fuel economy. Mazda's not sure U.S. customers would care much for that kind of math. Engineer Yoshiaki Yamane told AN, "Maybe U.S. customers require more power, because fuel economy is not the top requirement." There isn't much Mazda can do about the tech-heavy engine's cost, since pricey equipment like the high-pressure fuel injection and combustion systems, supercharger, three-way catalyst, and 24-volt mild-hybrid system provide the mileage gains that are the engine's reason for being. Instead, engineers are researching the system's effects with larger displacements. If it works as desired, a larger and more powerful Skyactiv-X could come to the U.S. on the large-vehicle architecture Mazda's developing for new sedans to arrive in a couple of years. That's the hope, at least. Remember, Mazda's Skyactiv-D was meant to go into the 2014 Mazda6, but didn't because Mazda said it needed more time to find "the right balance between fuel economy and Mazda-appropriate driving performance." After five years of "Soon," the engine showed up on the 2019 CX-5 that starts at $42,045. Based on that template, it could be awhile before we know how the U.S.-market Skyactiv-X story ends.

Tokyo's Tsukiji Outer Market Crowded With Shoppers

Tokyo's Tsukiji outer market crowded with shoppers

Tokyo's iconic Tsukiji outer market is crowded with shoppers during the last few days of the year.

Merchants are busy selling a selection of New Year's delicacies such as kamaboko boiled fish paste and salted herring roe.

Japan's Anime Market Hits Record High

Japan's anime market hits record high

Japan's anime market hit a record high in 2018 for the 6th consecutive year. Overseas markets accounted for nearly half of the total.

The Association of Japanese Animations determines the annual market size by surveying sales figures for about 150 animation-related companies in Japan.

Japan's Domestic Ivory Market

Japan's domestic ivory market

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES, banned international trade in ivory in 1990. But Japan and European Union states are among countries that allow domestic sales. Under those rules, foreign visitors are banned from buying ivory items, such as for souvenirs.

Japan's domestic businesses using ivory rely on stockpiles of more than 2,000 tons of tusks. Most was imported before the ban. The rest was bought in 1999 and 2009 under special approval of CITES.

Psa Sees Profits Rise In A Tightening Auto Market - Autoblog

PSA sees profits rise in a tightening auto market - Autoblog

PARIS — French carmaker PSA Group delivered a sharp increase in first-half profit, defying a global industry downturn as new models and cost savings from the integration of Opel-Vauxhall more than made up for weaker emerging market sales. Standing out against profit warnings from peers such as Daimler, PSA said on Wednesday its efficiency drive produced a 10.6% operating income gain even as deliveries went the other way — with a 12.8% decline posted earlier this month. That lifted the Peugeot maker's operating margin to a new 8.7% record from 7.8% a year earlier, boosted by a 270 million euro (242.2 million pounds) increase in cost savings on purchasing, research and development and overheads. "Our results are proving the sustainability of our performance despite the weakness of global markets," Chief Financial Officer Philippe de Rovira told reporters on a call. The recurring operating income came in at 3.34 billion euros, with net income up by almost a quarter to 1.832 billion as revenue slid 0.7% to 38.3 billion. "PSA continues to buck the trend being seen among most carmakers," Citi analyst Raghav Gupta-Chaudhary said. Barring any new merger opportunities, PSA could have about 3 billion euros in excess cash to return to shareholders, he added. PSA's pricing and profitability also benefited from new models such as the Citroen C5 Aircross SUV and a trio of commercial van launches — with strong gains in evidence at Opel-Vauxhall, acquired from General Motors in 2017. PSA shares were up 0.8% as of 0713 GMT in Paris, set against a smaller decline for European automotive stocks. Much of the operating-cost improvement stemmed from steady integration of the vehicle technologies and architectures underpinning new models across the Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands. PSA's bottom-line improvement came despite a 302 million-euro hit from China that included a 139 million asset writedown reflecting a steady plunge in the group's sales — down another 61% in the first half. The French carmaker is seeking to cut capacity at its manufacturing venture with its 12.2% shareholder Dongfeng, De Rovira said on Wednesday. For the full year, PSA predicted further auto-market contractions of 1% in Europe, 4% in Latin America and 7% in China, with Russia growing 3%. But European sales disruption in late 2018 — when tougher emissions rules forced competitors to suspend key models including the Volkswagen Golf — means the market is likely to grow in the latter half of 2019, the CFO said. The risk of a hard Brexit, however, make it "difficult to predict what the operating environment will be," he added. PSA said its positive free cash flow came to almost 1.6 billion euros at group level in the first half, with 2.29 billion euros at the core car-manufacturing business.

Nissan Brings Propilot Driver Assist To Japanese Market Skyline Sedan

Nissan brings ProPILOT driver assist to Japanese market Skyline sedan

Nissan is introducing some new, advanced driver assist systems for the Japanese market Skyline sedan this fall. Similarly to Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot, the updated ProPILOT system now combines navigation and automatic lane-changing. In addition, hands-off driving is enabled when certain guidelines are met and the driver is paying attention to the road ahead. Earlier ProPILOT iterations have required the driver to keep a hand on the wheel at all times.

This advanced cruise control/lane keeping assist now allows hands-off driving in a single highway lane, while constantly monitoring the driver's attentiveness, as the system will need the driver to take over in a sudden situation. With a pre-defined route activated on the navigation system and relying on a suite of cameras and radars, the ProPILOT equipped Skyline is able to change lanes and choose the correct ramp; at the highway exit ramp, the system prompts the driver to take full control of the car, both with audio and visual cues.

Mitsubishi Wants A Compact Pickup For The U.s. Market, But Won't Rush It

Mitsubishi wants a compact pickup for the U.S. market, but won't rush it

A Mitsubishi dealer told Wards Auto last year that "the most requested model at the brand's U.S. dealer meetings is 'a pickup truck, a pickup truck, a pickup truck.'" This month, Mitsubishi North America's COO told Wards that the carmaker has its eye on getting back to the compact pickup segment in the U.S., but that it will take time. "[We'd] have to have one that's the right fit for Mitsubishi," he said, "for our demographic, and something that's really competitive in the market."

That wasn't the case with the last compact pickup the brand sold here, the Raider. A product of the Daimler-Chrysler alliance with Mitsubishi at the time, the Raider was a rebadged Dodge Dakota. The pickup sputtered through four years of meager sales, being pulled from the market in 2009.