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Mazda gambles with advanced engine tech to bridge the shift to all-electric

Why it matters to you

New body styles may not catch your eye, but revolutionary engine tech could change your ride. Mazda Motor Corporation showed off two attention-grabbing concept models at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show. Looking past the curves and sightlines, the company’s plans for the revolutionary SkyActiv-X spark-controlled compression ignition motors captured as much if not more attention than the swoopy concept bodies.

Mazda Vision Coupe Concept

We’ve already written about the Vision Coupe concept previewed as the next Mazda6, likely to launch in 2020. Mazda also unveiled the Kai Concept four-door hatchback, an early look at the next generation 2019 Mazda3. Car and Driver recently drove prototype examples of the next Mazda3 in Germany with Skyactiv-X engines and the same body. Mazda referred to the current Mazda3 design as “juvenile and fresh” and the Kai concept as “sporty and mature,” according to CarsGuide.

Beyond aesthetics, the new platform is supposed to be quieter, with less vibration and ride harshness. The Kai Concept, like the Vision Coupe, was created with Mazda’s Kodo design language. Kodo is a design philosophy that goes beyond shaping metal mass to “breathing life into the car.” Mazda’s long-term tech development vision is to use driving pleasure to “inspire people, enrich society, and help bring about a beautiful earth.” The company calls the vision “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030.”

According to Mazda the Kai Concept muscular, solid proportions result in a dramatically quieter, more comfortable ride than the current model as well as an “enhanced performance feel.” CarsGuide states the next-gen Mazda3 will be about 2 inches shorter and 3.5 inches lower than the current model, with a 2-inch longer wheelbase and a 2.4-inch wider body.

Mazda SKyActiv-X compression ignition engine The new Mazda3’s greatest test, beyond eye appeal, noise levels, and ride feel, will be the success of the SkyActiv-X engine technology. The promise and hope are that the new compression-ignition engine can combine the better aspects of both gasoline and diesel engine technologies.

The new engine follows Mazda’s previous SkyActiv-G gasoline engine and Skyactive-D diesel engine. Mazda’s sees the “X” as a crossover, using spark-ignition to control the compression ignition. If it works, the SkyActiv-X will deliver diesel engine-like torque and fuel economy along with the higher revs and cleaner exhaust emissions associated with gasoline engines.

Mazda wants SkyActiv-X drivers to simultaneously enjoy the drive and take better care of the planet.

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Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC diesels pollute at illegal levels, suit charges

A class action lawsuit charges that Mecedes-Benz BlueTEC diesels have a problem similar to Volkswagen’s “clean diesel” engines. It alleges that the Mercedes engines emit 65 time the legal level of nitrogen oxide (NOx) when operated at temperatures below 50 degrees.

Mercedes labeled its BlueTEC vehicles as earth friendly, selling consumers the false notion that these diesel cars were less harmful to the environment, but Mercedes never divulged to consumers that BlueTEC diesels pollute at illegal levels when driven at lower temperatures and that its champion of the environment mantra was a sham, said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman[1], the law firm filing the complaint.

It appears that Mercedes has been caught in a similar scheme as Volkswagen and programmed these BlueTEC vehicles to pollute, all the while reaping profits from those who have fallen victim to its aggressive and deceptive eco-conscious branding, Berman said.

“Ultra-low emissions”

The suit filed Feb. 18, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois accuses Mercedes of deceiving consumers with false representations of its BlueTEC vehicles, which it marketed as the world s cleanest and most advanced diesel with ultra-low emissions, high fuel economy and responsive performance that emits up to 30% lower greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline. According to the complaint, on-road testing confirmed that Mercedes so-called Clean Diesel cars produced average on-road NOx emissions that are 19 times higher than the U.S. standard, with some instantaneous readings as high as 65 times more than the U.S. limit. The suit asks that Mercedes be ordered to recall or repair the affected vehicles and that consumers receive compensation for the diminished value of their cars.

Models named in the suit include:

ML 320

ML 350

GL 320




E Class

GL Class

ML Class

R Class

S Class

GLK Class

GLE Class


“Even higher levels …”

When we filed the first lawsuit against Volkswagen regarding their use of emissions-cheating software, we felt they were not the only culprits duping consumers into paying a high price for deceptive diesels, Berman said. Mercedes deception involves a cover-up of even higher levels of pollution, and consumers paid high prices for these luxury vehicles they thought were clean, only to be forced to drive diesel cars dirtier than their gasoline counterparts.

The complaint states that, Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with serious health dangers, including asthma attacks and other respiratory illness serious enough to send people to the hospital. Ozone and particulate matter exposure have been associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects.


  1. ^ Hagens Berman (www.hbsslaw.com)

Leaving plants in your garden over the winter can improve soil quality

Are there plants in your garden that bit the dust long ago? If so, your soil may actually be thanking you. According[1] to blog writers Kelley House and Kate Norvell, both certified professional social scientists, leaving plants in your garden over the winter is a good thing, and it s something everyone should consider doing on a yearly basis.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) February 15 Soils Matter blog post[2] explains that plant litter that remains after a harvest is called residue. Leaving the residues in place over the winter instead of pulling them up or tilling them into the soil surface offers these benefits to the soil and your garden:

  • Plant residues reduce erosion and the loss of valuable topsoil.
  • Having plant residues on the soil surface prevents soil crusting.
  • Residual plant material reduces weeds by covering and shading the soil.
  • Plant residues provide shade and regulate soil temperature.
  • Cooler soil temperatures also aid in the retention of soil moisture, which in turn is favorable for seed germination in the spring and crop growth.
  • Crop residues provide micro-habitats that protect and benefit the germinating plant seeds and establishing seedlings.
  • Plant residues provide a source of organic matter for the soil.

No-till farming

The concept of leaving plants in your garden over the winter is in line with another growing trend in U.S. agriculture. No-till farming[3] where crops are grown in undisturbed soil, without tillage or plowing has been on the rise since the 1980s.

While it may seem like a simple concept, it has some important larger-scale connotations. Because plowing and tillage have been major sources of soil erosion around the world (as well as key factors[4] behind the Dust Bowl), leaving soil undisturbed offers numerous environmental benefits. Farmers who began using the no-till approach found that they could conserve water, reduce erosion, and use less fossil fuel and labor to grow crops. Between 1982 and 1997, cropland erosion in the U.S. dropped nearly 40%.

The technique hasn t caught on in all countries, however. But if it did, the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) says we could see big climate benefits. It would lock more carbon in the soil and curtail fossil-fuel use in farm operations. The UNEP estimates that no-tillage operations in the United States have helped avoid 241 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide since the 1970s the equivalent to the annual emissions of about 50 million cars.

In a report[5], the UNEP argues that governments will have to step in to encourage the practice to get it to spread, either by offering research and training or by providing financial support.


  1. ^ According (newswise.com)
  2. ^ Soils Matter blog post (soilsmatter.wordpress.com)
  3. ^ No-till farming (www.ers.usda.gov)
  4. ^ key factors (www.ncdc.noaa.gov)
  5. ^ report (www.unep.org)

Forfar Camping Stove, Portable Stainless Steel Stove, Charcoal / Solidified Alcohol / Wood Camp Stove with Mesh Bag for Camping, Picnic, Outdoor Cooking, BBQ, Hiking Emergency Preparation – Bargain

  • PORTABLE & COMPACT: With split design and 350g lightweight, you can put the stove in your backpack and take it everywhere.
  • ECO-FRIENDLY: No fuel canisters, no chemical emissions, no batteries, less carbon footprint by using wood, charcoal or solid alcolol for burning.
  • RATIONAL DESIGN: Bottom of the stove is hollowed out for better burning and easier to clean out the ash.
  • HIGH EFFICIENCY: It only take 7 minutes to boil water of 500g in temperatures under 20℃. The greater fuel density, the longer burning time. When it is fully filled with dry firewood, single burning time can continuously for about 20 minutes.
  • BUILT TOUGH: Made of hardened stainless steel, the stove is meant for backpacking and camping.

Features: Lightweight and compact: Stove just weighs 12.3 oz, has minimal impact on the weight of your backpack. Environmentally friendly: No fuel canisters, no chemical emissions, no batteries, less carbon footprint. Longer burning time: The greater Fuel density, the longer burning time. When fully filled with dry firewood, single burning time can continuously for about 20 minutes. Unlimited fuel sources: You can use wood, branches leaves, charcoal, coal, solid alcohol fuel, etc. Say goodbye to heavy, costly, polluting petrol fuels. Built tough: Made of hardened stainless steel, the stove is meant for backpacking and camping. Easy to carry: Come with a mesh bag for convenient carrying.

Specifications: Material: Stainless Steel Bottom Diameter: 13cm / 5.1in Stove Height: 15cm / 5.9in Package Size: Approx. 14 * 14 * 7.5cm / 5.5 * 5.5 * 3in (L * W * H) Net Weight: Approx. 350g / 12.3oz Gross Weight: Approx. 430g / 15.2oz

Package Contents: 1 * Forfar CH-CS01 Portable Camping Stove 1 * Mesh Bag 1 * English Manual 1 * Forfar Original Package Box

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10 Key Car Repairs on the Road to 200,000 miles

Getting to and passing 200,000 miles on the odometer1 is an impressive feat, but it s by no means unachievable. Reliability in many new cars has improved, and even the maintenance schedule in owner s manuals has been changed to help you get more miles out of your car. As you approach that milestone, many of your car s components will start to wear out. We recommend that you closely follow the service interval schedule. Despite your best efforts, though, certain problems will crop up as you near the 200,000-mile mark.

We calculated the cost to repair certain items in a typical 2008 SB© toyota Camry V6 using the free Consumer Reports Car Repair Estimator2. Your repair costs might be different than those shown here.

1. Exhaust Systems That Rust Out

You can tell because your car will get increasingly loud and will probably fail emissions tests come inspection time. According to our estimator, the job could cost ?1,880 to ?3,230.

2. Spark Plugs

If maintained well, they can last 100,000 miles. But by the 200K mark, you could be overdue for a third set of plugs. Cost to replace: ?100 to ?300.

3. Shocks and Struts

Does your car look like it s sagging, or does it shudder like it s in an earthquake every time you drive over a pothole? Then you probably need new shocks and struts. Cost to repair: ?280 to ?400 for one strut (you should replace them in pairs). But if you need a full set of shocks and struts all around, expect to pay closer to ?900 to ?1,300.

4. Oil

Increased oil consumption is common in older cars, so don t panic. You should routinely check and top off the oil between changes, especially before long trips. Cost to replace: A few bucks as needed.

5. Hoses, Etc.

Oil lines, vacuum lines, and all kinds of seals and gaskets can start to wear. You should look over your engine routinely for signs of leaks. Cost to repair: It should only cost ?200 to ?370 for a new exhaust manifold gasket. But if your head gasket needs replacing, you could pay into four figures.

6. Moisture Buildup in the Cabin

Almost 10 years of hopping in the car with muddy boots will take its toll, and a lot of the moisture will remain to fog up the windows and give you that old-car smell. Cost to repair: A soggy interior is forever, but you should be able to hold off the fog with a splash of Windex or another window cleaner. As for that musty smell? Blast the carpet with Febreze.

7. Electrical Components

Years of water splash and spray can wreak havoc on your wiring and circuitry. Don t be surprised if features like power windows, windshield wipers, and even the instrument panel go on the fritz. The gremlins can be frustratingly difficult to trace. Cost to repair: ?370 to more than ?1,300.

8. Brake Lines That Begin to Wear

They should be checked often as you approach the 200K mark. If you live in the Snow Belt, make sure to also check the hard brake lines for rusting or weak spots. Cost to repair: ?900 to almost ?2,000.

9. Mechanical Components

Many original parts seem like they ll last forever, but even the strongest ones can wear out. Don t go cheap on replacement parts in order to save a few bucks. If you did replace worn parts with substandard knockoffs, they might be on their way to failure much sooner than the original equipment. Also, if you buy certain premium parts, they might come with a lifetime warranty.

10. Rust

If you see even a little bit of rust forming around the wheel wells, hood, trunk, or suspension mounting points, there could be a serious problem beneath the surface. That structural weakness will make your car less safe in a crash. Cost to repair: Not worth it. Time to get a new car.


  1. ^ 200,000 miles on the odometer (www.consumerreports.org)
  2. ^ Consumer Reports Car Repair Estimator (www.consumerreports.org)
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