Mazda has announced they are planning to build a transmission plant in the Chonburi province of Thailand with an annual capacity of 400,000 units. That’s 1096 transmissions a day and assuming the transmission plant runs around the clock, is 45 units every hour.
Mazda has decided to build this plant for two reasons. One, Mazda has seen a sharp increase in the demand for Sky-Active technology equipped cars, and in response are pumping out transmissions as fast as they can. More importantly, Mazda wants to increase its global production footprint and help its overall plan to sell 1.7 million vehicles annually by 2016.
What makes this Sky-Active automatic transmission so special? For one, Mazda made this transmission in response to a global demand for more fuel efficient vehicles in general and seem to be leading the pack.
The leading feature to Mazda’s new transmission is the new lockup clutch that enables the torque converter turbine to be locked to the impeller, causing all power from the transmission to be mechanical, thus eliminating losses associated with a fluid drive. Fuel economy is said to have improved by 6-7 % when compared to the previous transmission.
In addition, Mazda has improved upon its automatic control module. Edmunds recently took a 2012 Mazda 3 out for a spin and describes the automatic control module update best when editor Erin Riches stated that, “
In situations where I was in Drive, off-throttle and intermittently applying the brakes, the transmission would at a certain point drop down a gear to provide some much desired engine braking. Now there are plenty of other automatic transmissions with hill logic that will downshift in these situations, but the timing and smoothness with which this particular automatic does it is just right-on and adds to the enjoyment of driving an automatic-equipped Mazda 3. It made me happy.
Building a plant is a healthy sign for any company and points to a healthy Mazda. Let's hope demand doesn't drop in the coming years for SkyActiv technology.