Nikkei Daihatsu Motor Co., the Toyota Group’s minicar specialist, and Suzuki Motor Corp. both are developing gasoline-powered minivehicles with a fuel efficiency comparable to that of hybrid cars.
As early as next year, Daihatsu will debut a minivehicle with an engine that automatically shuts off when the vehicle is at a stop. Trimming the vehicle’s weight by 100 kg from the current 800 kg will also help to boost overall fuel economy by 20%. It will be able to travel more than 30 km per liter [70.6 mpg US, 3.33 L/100 km], similar to hybrids sold by Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
...Suzuki will overhaul its mainstay engine, which has been in wide use since the mid-1990s. The automaker is expected to roll out a vehicle with a newly developed engine in two years. It will feature such gas-saving technologies as a continuously variable transmission.
Minivehicles currently on the market in Japan features with displacements of 660cc or less, run 20-25 km per liter (47-59 mpg US, 5-4 L/100 km), and are priced at around ¥1.2 million (US$13,300). Both companies reportedly see electric motors for minivehicles as being cost-prohibitive.