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Forget About Driverless Cars, Most People Still Want To Drive?

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White Mazda MX-5 Maita Driving

Even in the face of autonomous technology, it seems a large section of people still believe in the joys of driving. A 2017 study sponsored by Mazda found that 71 percent of respondents still preferred to have control of their car rather than have a computer do it for them.

The Japanese automaker seems to be the only mainstream carmarker nowadays still committed to maintaining an entire lineup of fun-to-drive cars that are more than point A-to-B appliances, having doubled down on internal combustion engine tech and spirited handling while the rest of the industry accelerates towards electric and autonomous vehicles.

Mazda, like all enthusiast-leaning automakers, clearly has a strong interest in knowing whether people want to drive or be driven, hence why it hired research firm Ipsos MORI to of 11,008 adults and their motoring preferences. The results speak for themselves:

“A staggering 71 percent of people surveyed would still want to drive, while only 29 percent would actively welcome the arrival of autonomous vehicles.”

In fact, nearly two-thirds of respondents of all age groups — young and old — said they would still keep driving themselves even if self-driving cars were affordable and readily available.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that the study was conducted in Europe, where manual transmission cars still dominate the road. Of the 1,002 respondents surveyed in the United Kingdom in particular, 81 percent cited “independence” as the number one reason for wanting control of the wheel, 62 percent admitted to driving “for fun”, and over 50 percent said there is more to driving than just getting from point A to point B.

A full 70 percent of UK respondents expressed a desire for future generations to have the option to drive themselves, and 39 percent believed driving was becoming a “forgotten pleasure.”

This is not to say Mazda or buyers in general are opposed to technological aids such as crash-avoidance systems, which could help drivers in emergency situations that require fast reaction times. However, it appears for now that humans still want to be in the driver’s seat.

What’s your take on the shift to autonomous cars? Do you see yourself driving your own car 20 years from now? Let us know in the comments section.s

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Mazda Says Its Next Gas Engines Have Lower Emissions Than An EV

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Mazda SKYACTIV Technology

Mazda has boldly claimed that its third-generation Skyactiv gas engine technology will have lower “well-to-wheel” emissions than an electric vehicle.

While most automakers shift gears from the internal combustion engine (ICE) to hybrid and full-electric powertrains, Mazda is steadfast in its pursuit of perfecting the age-old g-burner, which it believes still has a lot of untapped potential. With development of the company’s second-generation Skyactiv-X technology now complete and slated to arrive on the market in 2019, engineers have been tasked with maximizing thermal efficiency of ‘Skyactiv-3’, the next generation of gasoline engines.

Mazda powertrain chief Mitsuo Hitomi revealed at an automotive technical conference in Tokyo that the Skyactiv-3 engines are expected to deliver unprecedented thermal efficiency levels of up to 56 percent — a 27-percent improvement over their predecessors — as well as lower emissions than pure battery-powered electric vehicles.

According to , which broke the story, the company’s study considers carbon-dioxide emissions from natural-gas powerplants used to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and the emissions from oil extraction and refining, so it’s not exactly and apples-to-apples comparison.

Even so, up to 56 percent in thermal efficiency and the associated reduction in emissions would be impressive feats of engineering if achieved.

Mazda has been the leader in overall fleet efficiency for five consecutive years despite not following the mainstream shift towards full electrification.

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Mazda Is Most Fuel Efficient Brand For Five Straight Years

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2018 Mazda CX9 7 seat crossover

Mazda, the relentless little automaker that could, has been named the most fuel efficient automaker in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Light Duty Fuel Economy Trends Report yet again, the fifth year in a row it’s been awarded the title.

It must be noted that the EPA’s report, which is essentially a summary of an automaker’s fleet-wide average fuel economy for a particular model year, runs a year behind, so the 2017 focuses on the 2016 model year.

Mazda topped all other automakers with an adjusted average fuel economy of 29.6 miles per gallon, a 0.4 mpg improvement over the previous model year. Hyundai came in second with 28.8 mpg, followed by Honda (28.2 mpg), Subaru (28.1 mpg) and Nissan (27.9 mpg), respectively.

Unsurprisingly, brands strongly dependent on truck sales, notably the Big Three american automakers, feared the worst, with Fiat Chrysler taking the bottom spot with an average fuel economy of 21.8 mpg. General Motors (22.2 mpg) and Ford (22.8 mpg) weren’t far behind.

The EPA hasn’t completed its findings for the 2017 model year, but it expects Mazda to lose its top spot. It predicts Honda’s average fuel economy will likely climb to 29.5 mpg and Mazda’s to drop to 29.3 mpg.

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Having Fun Driving Reduces Distracted Driving? Mazda Thinks So

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Clubsport

With distracted driving now reaching epidemic levels, would people be less inclined to be distracted if they drove something more than just an appliance on wheels — something more fun and exciting? Mazda for one seems to think so.

The Japanese automaker plans to counter the wave of automotive technology that’s seemingly making drivers less engaged with a novel new system that monitors the level of driving engagement and rewards you for it.

Mazda on Jan 2, 2018, showing an in-car system that monitors the driver’s engagement with the act of driving, measuring such things as how much they are looking away from the road, fiddling with accessories, and delays in pedal switching. There is nothing new about senors in a car, but the way the company is using them is truly innovative.

Cars equipped with the system will not only log the driver’s engagement level, but also the road’s characteristics, guiding them to roads that have more engaging features.

Is there a better win-win situation than increasing road safety while subtilely coaxing drivers to enjoy their cars more? Let’s hope the system works as intended and sells many cars for Mazda.

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