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Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Mitsubishi engine technologies boost fuel efficiency 12%

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is rolling out two new engine technologies that promise to boost fuel efficiency in the Outlander Sport and Lancer lineup by as much as 12 percent, the company said Thursday.

The first is a new engine with next-generation variable valve timing that improves combustion stability and reduces piston friction. The second is an improved engine idle-stop system that can be applied to cars with continuously variable transmissions.

The technologies will be introduced this month on the Outlander Sport small crossover, the Lancer sedan and Lancer Sportback -- all made in Japan. The improvements will be offered first for 1.8-liter engines in Japan before heading overseas or spreading to other displacements.

It is unclear when they will reach North America, where Mitsubishi offers only 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter engines in those models. Mitsubishi is studying deployment of the systems there.

The new engine, dubbed the 4J10, replaces the current 4B10 engine. It is a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve single overhead cam powerplant. The 4B10 has dual cam shafts.

When combined with the new idle-stop technology, the 4J10 delivers a 12 percent improvement in fuel economy over the previous engine, Mitsubishi said in a statement.

Mitsubishi is introducing the new technologies as it races to meet stricter emissions standards. The carmaker aims to improve its fleet’s fuel efficiency 25 percent by 2015, compared with the 2005 global average. That is a midterm benchmark on the path to its 2020 goal of halving emissions.

Turning to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is a key Mitsubishi strategy for meeting those targets. But the new engine technologies show the company also is channeling r&d money into developing greener internal combustion engines, which will remain the foundation of its fleet.

Mitsubishi’s new engine combines the company’s two existing valve-timing systems into one technology. Before, one system switched between different valve lifts and valve opening duration in relation to engine speed. The other system varied valve opening timing.

The new system uses one mechanism to control valve lift, opening duration and timing at the same time. That boosts efficiency by reducing pumping loss. And it can also be applied to an SOHC engine, thereby reducing engine weight and size by eliminating parts.

Mitsubishi already employs an engine idle-stop technology in some vehicles using manual transmissions for the European market. But the new system works with CVTs.

The technology saves fuel by turning off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and automatically restarting it when the driver steps on the gas.

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