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by Matt Brogan

Mazda has won the 2009 Automotive Researchers’ and Journalists’ Conference of Japan (RJC) Technology of the Year award for its idling stop system, known as “i-stop”.

The i-stop system is a fuel saving device fitted to direct injection engines that shuts down the engine when the car comes to rest.

Combustion energy is used to restart the engine in just 0.35 seconds, about half the time of most other systems, while noise and vibration suppression makes the process smooth and almost imperceptible.

Mazda Japan has been fitting i-stop to all new Mazda3s (known as Axela in its home country) since its June launch, achieving 15 per cent fuel efficiency gains over the previous model.

Senior managing executive officer in charge of R&D, Seita Kanai, said the use of i-stop in the Axela was just the beginning of its application at Mazda.

“Mazda’s i-stop system is one of the green technologies that form the base of our future product strategy.

“It improves fuel economy without adversely affecting driving performance. In this way, we believe i-stop perfectly reflects Mazda’s commitment to provide our customers with driving pleasure as well as superb environmental and safety performance.

“We are honoured to receive this award.”

The RJC technology award is Mazda’s third, following the Miller-cycle engine (used in the Eunos 800) in 1993 and the RENESIS Rotary engine (for the RX-8) in 2003.