Eight of Japan's top auto producers have formed a new consortium aimed at improving the efficiency of engines by 30 percent by the year 2020. The manufacturer lineup includes Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu, Suzuki, and Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru. Officially known as the Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines (AICE), members of the organization will collectively engage in basic research and development work on both gasoline and diesel engine technology. The undertaking is being funded by a $9.9 million budget that will carry it through to March 2015. Half of that money will come from the participants and the remaining half from the Japanese government. 

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One of the fundamental keys to AICE's success lies in its ability to dramatically increase the thermal efficiency of all types of internal combustion engines to nearly 50 percent -- up from the current 37 percent and 42 percent figures for today's best gasoline and diesel powerplants. Under terms of the program, each participating manufacturer will be allowed to apply all knowledge derived to its own individual engine designs. 

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The idea behind AICE is similar to collaborative efforts already underway in Europe. Keiji Ohtsu, managing director of Honda R&D Company who was appointed to head the operation sees AICE as critically important in maintaining a competitive status. "With gas-electric hybrid cars and fuel-cell vehicles being introduced, the range of technologies that car makers must develop is expanding, even though the number of researchers is not." 

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