Today marks the first day of the Washington DC Auto Show. Something unique about this annual auto show is that it generally has a heavy emphasis on green vehicles and technology. It could be because of the event’s proximity to important lawmakers, or because the East Coast is a traditionally eco-friendly place, or because there simply aren’t any mainstream vehicles left to showcase after the Detroit Auto Show, but in the end it doesn’t matter.
The fact is that the DC Auto Show is where we see cars that run on corn, water, diesel and electricity. It’s also where Green Car Journal is naming their first ever recipient of the Green Car Technology Award.
None other than the surprisingly well-received Mazda SkyActiv system.
It’s been a great few months for Mazda, and this is primarily because of their SkyActiv technology. For instance, just last month the Mazda CX-5 received the Japan Car of the Year award, and it was the first vehicle to feature Mazda’s new SkyActiv technology, along with their refined Kodo design language. Even though it’s not yet available in America, the Mazda6 is already getting an astonishing amount of praise, and again, this is largely thanks to the inclusion of SkyActiv.
For those of you who don’t know, SkyActiv is a broad spectrum of enhancements all aimed at improving fuel efficiency. Vehicles with the SkyActiv suite will be lighter weight, feature an improve chassis, have a more aerodynamic design, and run on highly efficient combustion engines, many of which will be clean-diesel.
Surprisingly, as of right now Mazda is deliberately avoiding electric vehicles. They recognize that the average driver isn’t yet interested in plug-in technology, so there’s no reason to take on the development costs for a car that won’t make a significant impact on their sales.
Even without electric technology, though, SkyActiv was able to take the Green Car Technology Award over nine other manufacturers’ innovations, both Japanese and otherwise. A few noteworthy finalists were the Fiat MultiAir, the Toyota RAV4 EV, the Tesla Model S, and Honda’s Eco Assist. Nissan’s Easy-Fill Tire Alert System was also apparently in contention, but I don’t think anyone is surprised that it didn’t take the cake.
Even though part of me questions why Mazda won the Green Car Technology Award without any serious innovations, I’m still happy that a Japanese auto maker won. There’s definitely something to be said for Mazda’s ability to stay focused – what SkyActiv lacks in innovation it makes up for with practicality. Most other manufacturers are looking only to the future; Mazda is taking what works right now and making the best Japanese cars possible with that technology. In the end, that’s why I believe they won the award.
Now, even though I can see why Mazda won, that doesn’t mean there’s no case to be made for the other finalists. So, what do you think? Which technology should have been crowned with the Green Car Technology Award? Let us know in the comments below:
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