Mazda Motor Corporation recently announced that its unique idling stop system, i-stop, has won the 2009 Automotive Researchers' and Journalists' Conference of Japan (RJC) Technology of the Year award.

Idling stop systems reduce fuel consumption by automatically shutting down the engine when the driver stops the vehicle. Mazda's i-stop system is fitted to direct-injection engines and uses combustion energy to restart the engine in just 0.35 seconds, about half the time necessary for most other competing systems. The i-stop system also suppresses noise and vibration as the engine shuts down and restarts, ensuring that drivers experience a natural driving feel with no sense of discomfort.

Mazda introduced i-stop on the all-new Mazda3, which was launched in Europe and Japan in June 2009. The new Mazda3 with i-stop offers approximately 15 percent improved fuel economy compared to the previous model when tested under Japan's 10-15 mode test cycle. Mazda3 models with i-stop also qualify for Japan's eco-car incentive program as well as tax reductions of 75 percent under the government's eco-car tax reduction program. Almost half of the total Mazda3 sales volume in Japan to date has been i-stop models.

Seita Kanai, Mazda's Senior Managing Executive Officer in charge of R&D, said "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. In recognizing our environmental efforts, this prize holds a special significance for Mazda."

The Automotive Researchers' and Journalists' Conference of Japan, a non-profit organization (NPO), was established in 1990. It aims to contribute to the development of the automotive industry through various activities, including the recognition of outstanding vehicles and technologies by the Car of the Year selection committee.

Automotive technologies eligible for the 2009 RJC Technology of the Year competition must be introduced to the market in vehicles sold between November 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009. This is the third time that Mazda has won the RJC Technology of the Year award. Previously, Mazda won for its Miller-cycle engine (used in the Eunos 800) in 1993 and for the RENESIS Rotary engine (for the RX-8) in 2003.