Nissan has delivered a huge surprise in a small package: the Micra hatchback is returning to Canadian showrooms with a starting price under $10,000. That makes it the least expensive new car, priced a whopping $2,000 below its closest competitors.

We’re happy to see another player in the economy car segment, so EcoModder is launching a new forum at www.Micra-Forum.com.

The returning Micra will move into top place (or perhaps tie for top place) as the most efficient model in Nissan’s lineup (not counting the all electric Leaf). Official fuel economy ratings haven’t been released, but the numbers are going to be extremely close to the Versa sedan which uses the same 1.6L drivetrain.  Estimates  are:

  • Manual 5-speed: 8.7 L/100 km / 27 mpg (US) city –  6.5 / 36 highway –  7.8 / 30 combined
  • Automatic 4-speed: 9.1 / 26 city — 6.7 / 35 highway — 7.8 / 30 combined

Read about how we determined these numbers:  2015 Nissan Micra fuel economy / mileage / mpg (NRCAN, EPA)

Not surprisingly, Nissan is promoting the car’s low price and fun-to-drive factor ahead of its fuel economy.

$10,000 Micra coming to the U.S.?

Nissan says there are no plans to sell the car in the U.S. — however, the company also said that about Canada when Micra production began at its Mexican plant in 2010.  And just six months ago, U.S. auto journalists were invited to test drive a Tenessee-plated Micra (with a supercharged 1.2L, 3-cylinder engine).  At least one reviewer declared it a lot of fun for “an $8000 car.” (See Micra video review.) Other sources point out that since Canada’s safety & emissions regulations are practically identical to the U.S., it may be more a question of marketing rather than regulatory hurdles keeping it from being sold in the States.  Interestingly, a lightly camouflaged New Micra was spotted driving in Los Angeles recently.


Gallery: view more photos of the 2015 Nissan Micra

So, small car-loving Canada gets first crack at the Micra, just as it did with the efficient 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback (and the Mirage sedan as well).

Head over to Micra-Forum.com for info & discussion about the Micra: fuel economy, specs, reviews, photos & videos, and more.

Popularity: 11% [?]

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EcoModder presents another streamlined, high efficiency blast from the past.

Beneath these extensive modifications lies a 1960 Austin Healey “Bug Eye” Sprite.  It was built by EcoModder member Tom Shrimplin as a high-efficiency commuter to take him to work at the Institute for Environmental Research at Kansas State U in the 1970’s.

Tom explains, “I was driving 110 miles per day so I began modifying the Sprite and doubled its mileage over a period of years to a consistent 65 MPG (unheard of in those days).  This was a 1960 “Bug Eye” with an 850cc engine. It turned close to 3000 at 60 mph and gave 33 mpg on average, originally.”

Here’s the same Sprite in “33 mpg” form:


Mechanical modificiations were extensive:

  • Engine: the original engine was replaced with a 1600cc engine from a Ford Pinto
  • Engine modifications: the camshaft was retarded 2 notches (making a poor man’s Atkinson cycle); electronic ignition was substituted for the original system (in combination with a wider spark plug gap this permitted running a slightly leaner air/fuel ratio); adjustable on-the-fly carburetor from a Briggs & Stratton lawnmower; belt driven cooling fan removed.  Tom says it never overheated, even in summer.  He could run cabin heater fan if the coolant temperature started to climb.
  • Tires: new for the time radial tires with lower rolling resistance
  • Transmission(s):  a big portion of the mpg improvement came from adding a manual 3-speed Buick transmission inline (but reversed) with the Pinto 4-speed manual, providing 12 forward gears and up to a 2.5 overdrive.  The engine ticked over at just 1100 rpm @ 55 MPH (Nixon speed limit days). Excellent for economy, but requiring more from the driver: “a slight incline required downshifting.”

Here’s the car part-way through its transformation:


Of course, the most obvious mods were of the aerodynamic variety.

Tom checked all the important boxes:

  • Frontal area reduction courtesy of a raked windshield
  • “Boat-tailing” at the rear
  • Re-sizing the cooling opening to suit the reduced engine load
  • A set of four fender skirts
  • Smooth(ish) hubcaps.


Tom doesn’t apologize for the function-over-form aesthetics: “It was made of junk yard body pieces, pop rivets and bondo.” He painted it bright yellow for safety, because somehow drivers failed to notice the low-slung car streamliner on the road.


Ultimately (after 250,000 miles), the modified car was taken off the road & dismantled. A student got the chassis in exchange for destroying the body. He had a Midget and could use the parts.

Today at 87 years old, Tom is still ecomodding.

A few months ago he added a short aerodynamic extension to his recently acquired 2000 Honda Insight that improved its fuel economy by 5% on a familiar route.  He says he prefers driving the Insight to the old Sprite.


For more information and discussion about Tom’s projects, check out the forum thread on his AeroSprite, or the thread about his Honda Insight.

Popularity: 6% [?]

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EcoModder starts a new forum for the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

January 15, 2013
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I am pleased to announce that this week EcoModder gave birth to a brand new forum: www.MirageForum.com The more we found out about Mitsubishi’s design/engineering approach to this new car, the more we liked it: – It’s purpose-designed to be light (~1910 lbs in Australian trim) – It’s aerodynamic (Cd 0.27 to 0.31, depending on […]

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Slow down. My philosophy for life also applies to the road.

December 5, 2012
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This is Ecomodder.com. If you are reading this, you are probably already well aware of the effect that speed has on gas mileage, and you are probably aware of the affect that fuel use has on the environment, national security, and your own wallet. But in my time in the forums it has been clear […]

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Scangauge Mount Review

November 6, 2012

We recently got in a small shipment of new Scangauge suction cup mounts.  So, I grabbed one and figured a review was in order before we start selling these. The construction of the mount is quite robust.  It has a nice, high quality suction cup design.  It has a lever on it so when you […]

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Teaching Someone How to Ecodrive

November 1, 2012

Image credit: James & Vilija One of EcoModder’s founders (a former driving instructor) recently gave an in-car ecodriving lesson to a “normal” driver — someone who’d never even heard the word “hypermiling” before.  He described how demonstration and coaching significantly improved her city MPG.  Below is a shorter version of a forum discussion describing how […]

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Aerocaps for pick-up trucks

October 24, 2012
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When people think about fuel economy, they usually think about small cars, perhaps a mid-size hybrid.  If they think about trucks, its usually to contrast them with a more efficient vehicle (and perhaps chastise truck owners for their wasteful choice). But while cars are great if you need to get yourself and maybe a few […]

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Adding an overdrive PART 2 (BW T-19 to ZF-5 transsmission swap)

August 27, 2012
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This post was broken up into two parts because it is a bit long.  See last week’s entry for the introduction. Here are some tips for the BW to ZF swap: Set aside several days aside for this project.  It should only take a day. Should. If there are no unexpected complications. But you know […]

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