Mazda Motor Corporation will launch a world-first commercially produced compression-ignition petrol engine series, to be called SkyActiv-X, in 2019.
This technology cuts fuel use, which is vital as Mazda look to slash its well-to-wheel carbon dioxide emissions to half of what they were in 2010.
High-efficiency compression ignition — in this context the next evolution from Mazda’s efficient high-compression SkyActiv engine family — means the fuel-air mixture ignites spontaneously when compressed by a piston.
In short, it's a proprietary combustion method called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, which Mazda claims maximises the zone in which compression ignition is possible, and yields “a seamless transition between compression ignition and [traditional] spark ignition”.
The SkyActiv-X’s lean-burning is said to improve engine efficiency by up to 30 per cent over the current SkyActiv-G petrol engine type fitted to all Mazdas bar the BT-50, while equalling or exceeding the fuel economy of its SkyActiv-D diesel engines.
More interestingly again, Mazda says that compression ignition in tandem with an engine supercharger slashes fuel use while increasing torque 10–30 per cent over the current SkyActiv-G gasoline engine. No surprise given the latter is normally aspirated.
The disclosure of this imminent 2019 compression ignition launch — not unexpected — was one part of an announcement Mazda made today detailing its long-term vision.
The business plan is rather unoriginally called “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030”, and it charts Mazda’s course for the next decade-plus. In overview, the plan demands:
- To reduce corporate average “well-to-wheel” carbon dioxide emissions to 50 per cent of 2010 levels by 2030, and achieve a 90 per cent reduction by 2050
- Prioritising efficiency improvements that apply in the real world, meaning continued efforts to “perfect the internal combustion engine”, which Mazda believes will help power the majority of cars
- From 2019, start introducing electric vehicles and other electric drive technologies in regions that use a high ratio of clean energy for power generation (this is where Toyota will come in)
The company also outlined its plans to begin testing of autonomous driving technologies in 2020, aiming to make the full pilot system standard on all models by 2025.
Mazda also believes that it can create a new business model that enables car owners to "support the needs of people in depopulated areas and those who have difficulty getting around", and further develop its 'Kodo' car design to "raise vehicle design to the level of art that enriches the emotional lives of all who see it".
"Personally, I have always thought that a company must become an essential part of people’s lives to earn their trust and form a bond," Mazda Motor Corp. president and CEO, Masamichi Kogai, said.
"And that bond is strengthened when customers empathise with the company’s greater cause and philosophy, as expressed through its products, technologies and services.
"... Around the world, Mazda has always been known for making sporty cars like the MX-5 and rotary-powered cars like the Cosmo Sport and Savannah, and we’ve been supported by a passionate fan-base."
This is the second major strategic, corporate announcement out of Mazda inside the past few days.
Mazda and Toyota recently agreed to buy 50 billion yen ($570 million) worth of shares in their partner. This means, starting from the beginning of October, Toyota will own 5.05 per cent of Mazda’s common stock, while Mazda will have a 0.25 per cent stake in Toyota.
The expanded partnership agreement will see the small and large Japanese entities set up a new factory in the US by 2021, work together on electric vehicle technology, collaborate on infotainment technology, share vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure findings, and potentially share or co-develop vehicle architectures.