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Improving mpg with technology

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Posted: 8 am ET

With higher fuel economy standards on the horizon, automakers are increasingly focusing on new technologies to improve their MPG ratings while enticing car shoppers with a variety of cars in different sizes and body styles.

Several automakers have recently made announcements that will improve the MPG of their line ups in ways that they believe will increase sales and attract more customers to their brand.

Mazda is in the process of a plan to increase its sales volume in the U.S. by nearly 75 percent within the next three years by building cars that get better MPG without sacrificing performance. Its new Mazda3, which goes on sale next week, gets 18 percent better fuel economy than the previous version thanks to its new Skyactiv engine and transmission, which is also slated for the 2013 CX-5 crossover.

BMW just released details of its redesigned 3 series, its best-selling model, which includes improved fuel efficiency over the current model thanks to an optional eight-speed automatic transmission and a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as well as a hybrid model. The new BMW 3 series goes on sale in February, while the hybrid version will arrive later in the year.

In the large sedan segment, automakers are taking a variety of approaches or a combination of techniques to improve fuel economy while still meeting car shoppers' demands in that type of vehicle. We've already seen a trend in these cars becoming slightly smaller and featuring slightly smaller engines equipped with technologies such as cylinder deactivation and direct injection paired with transmissions with more speeds to improve fuel efficiency. Now automakers are looking at hybrids as well as pure electrics for their largest cars, including a recent comment by Mercedes-Benz execs at the Frankfurt Auto Show that the future may hold an all-electric S-Class.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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