Mazda Motor Corp. says it has developed a new plastic-molding technology that cuts the use of oil-based resins as raw materials.

A decrease in resin use of approximately 20%-30% is realized with the technology, which also produces lighter weight, yet still strong and rigid plastic parts.

“The plastic molding technology can potentially be applied to nearly all plastic parts used in vehicles,” Mazda says in a statement.

Using lighter materials, as well as employing advanced vehicle architectures that remove bulk, and also looking for new bonding techniques and compounds all are methods Mazda is using to reduce the overall weight of its vehicles.

The auto maker cites the new-generation Mazda2 subcompact as evidence of its weight-reduction efforts.

The car has an optimized body structure that is 49 lbs. (22 kg) lighter than the previous generation. Some 29 lbs. (13 kg) also were taken out of the Mazda2’s suspension system using a shorter trailing arm on the rear axle and open-section front lower arms.

Meanwhile, Mazda reiterates plans to bring a clean-diesel engine to Europe in early 2009 and stop-idle start system in first-half 2009. The 2.2L common-rail turbo diesel makes 182 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque.

The use of a ceramic-base material in the engine’s catalyst is a world-first, Mazda claims.

“It has a molecular structure that increases the rate of particulate-matter combustion and enhances the diesel particulate-filter regeneration speed,” the auto maker says.

The Japanese auto maker also claims innovation can be found in its stop-idle start system, as expansion-stroke pistons are indexed before the engine restarts compared with other systems that index the pistons only after the electric motor begins turning over the engine.

Mazda’s system, which uses direct-injection aided by a starter motor, provides for starts that are twice as fast – 0.35 seconds with an automatic transmission – smoother and more fuel-efficient than those found from competitor’s stop-idle start systems, the auto maker says.

Mazda Motor Europe CEO James Muir told Ward’s last March the stop-idle start system would debut on the next-generation Mazda3 compact car in Europe. The auto maker claims up to a 9% improvement in fuel economy with the technology.

On a global basis, Mazda is looking to improve the fuel economy of its vehicles an average 30% by 2015 as part of its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom initiative.